Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Excuses Schmexcuses

I've been trying to post more often lately. It's made me realize how much I miss having that creative outlet to deal with...everything. I don't have much of an audience these days, which is nobody's fault but my own for absconding from the blogosphere to "find myself". But I think there might be an audience out there for me somewhere.

My friend Amy Sue Nathan just had her first book, "The Glass Wives" published, which thrills me to pieces. Go read it. It's good.

I've made lots of excuses for many years about why I couldn't write a book. Amy has the same number of kids and one less husband so, regrettably, my excuses are nullified by her damnable success. Curse you Amy Nathan!

In short...I've decided it's time to get serious. Quit screwing around, quit making excuses and just write a damn book already.

It may be slow going. I have a job and a family and although I do have a room of my own, (nod to Virginia Woolf) it doesn't afford me as much privacy or freedom as say...a life of my own.

But so what? So what if I only write a few pages each day. So what if it takes me ten years to get published? Olive Anne Burns didn't become a published author until her sixties. Probably because she had kids. (I joke...mostly). And she didn't even start writing "Cold Sassy Tree" until she was diagnosed with lymphoma.

It's never too late, is what I take from that.

I've done quite a few things in the last five years that I never, ever, ever thought I could or would do. Now I know I just have to make up my mind to do it.

And so I have.

See you on the New York Times Bestseller list?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Genuine Disingenuousness

In celebration of graduation, parents were tasked with writing a letter to their seniors. Normally I find this kind of forced sentiment very disingenuous. And as I sat down to write my letter, I was a bit disgruntled at being strong armed into such an endeavor, though I can usually pen such a thing with very little effort. Which was exactly why it bothered me. It wouldn't REALLY express all the ways in which parenting has shaped me as a person, or adequately convey my feelings about my child. I thought it a sham; cheap and meaningless. But I sat down to write it nonetheless, as I could not let my child be the only one without a letter. To my surprise...the words did not flow so easily. 

I struggled. I cried. I revised and edited. I cried some more.

When I finally had something down on paper, it didn't seem empty to me at all. I hope my son feels the same way.

Dear (no longer) Pre-Pubescent One, 

I’ve probably started this silly thing seven times. I don’t really know how parents sum up in a couple hundred words, what the journey of parenthood has been like. For that reason, I’m kind of annoyed by this, though I know it is well intentioned. It almost cheapens what an amazing, horrible, awesome, terrifying, confusing, joyful experience parenting really is. But I’m going to try, because I don’t want you to be the only kid without a letter. And I’m sure some kids will have envelopes stuffed with letters from family, family, friends, church leaders, coaches. But all you have is us. It’s always been that way for you and your brother and I’ve always felt sad that you didn’t have lots of cousins to grow up with, grandparents just around the corner, and close ties to the other adult role models in your life.

But I want you to know that if Grandma was still here, she would be all over this letter writing thing. She’d have had her letter written, stamped and in the mail three weeks before the deadline. She’d probably include photos, school projects and a lock of baby hair too. She might have even included a batch of spicy pretzels just for you.

So, since you only get one letter, I’m going to try to make it a good one. Words are my thing, and I’ve written a lot of them over the years about you and your brother. But somehow, when it comes to writing them directly to you…I’m at a loss. Because again, trying to explain to a kid how much they mean to their parents, is kind of like trying to explain to a piano player what it’s like to throw a perfect pitch; there’s just no perspective. Someday, when you have children of your own, everything will be clear to you. It’s one of the greatest tragedies of both childhood and parenthood; you have absolutely no idea how fiercely, deeply, and enduringly you are loved and how numerous the sacrifices made on your behalf until the time to say “thank you” and “I’m sorry” has passed. 

You were my first baby. You made me a mother. I had three years to spend being only that. Until I die, I will always remember those days as some of the happiest of my life. I had no  responsibilities, no obligations, and no commitments, other than being your whole world. That’s an amazing gift for a Mom and one I feel incredibly privileged to have been given. We read, we zoomed cars, we built block towers and we knocked them down, we sang songs. Housework didn’t matter. We had no schedule to keep. We spent long lazy days doing nothing more important than playing “this little piggy”. It was perfect. We had such fun and you always thought I was pretty cool. I thought you were pretty cool too. Sometimes I miss that little boy a lot. But then I realize…he’s standing right in front of me. How can that be? Sometimes, it really doesn’t seem possible that the handsome young man I live with now, is the same little boy that I once rocked to sleep. But I’m trying to look at it as a new chapter beginning rather than an old one ending. I think life has a lot in store for you and we’re truly excited to see it all happen. 

Dad and I are so proud of you. I know we don’t say it enough…I’m not sure any parent ever does. You are a kind, thoughtful, intelligent and responsible young man. I hope we have taught you what you need to know about how to get the best for yourself.  Know and believe that you deserve nothing less. It’s every parent’s worst fear, that they’ve failed their kids in that respect. Just remember, sometimes, good people do foolish things, stupid things, even criminal things. It's how we learn and grow. You can't learn to pick yourself up if you never fall down. I did, Dad did, and you will too. It’s OKAY. But never let the thoughtless mistakes of your youth define who you are or change your opinion of yourself, because it will never change our opinion of you. We will always believe in you. And even though we know it’s time for you to stand on your own two feet, we will always be here to pick you up, dust you off, and kiss your boo-boos, just like when you were little. 

Love Always, 

Mom and Dad. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Dearth of Awesomeness

There's no pretty way to say this, so I'll state it plainly: Mother's Day without a Mother sucks.

I have been angry for six weeks. That's the period of time in which we are typically bombarded with Hallmark card, jewelry, chocolate and flower delivery commercials.

I don't want a card. Talk is cheap but cards are not. I find it ridiculous to pay five dollars for some schlocky sentiment and a hastily scribbled signature. I can do that myself. See? Dear you, You are terriffic. I like you. I may get angry and say things I don't mean like the other day when I called you a hopeless calorie whore for eating four of those dutch caramel wafers, but that doesn't change how I feel about you. Well, maybe sometimes. But most of the time I really like you and think you're terriffic. Love yourself. Love, Yourself.

Geez, I should be getting paid for my Hallmakr skillz.

I don't want jewelry, particularly not jewelry that looks like boobs and a butt. "Open Heart Collection" sounds far more sophisticated than "Boobs and Butt Collection" but it is what it is. If calling myself by another name would confer upon me the desirable attributes that I wish to posess, I would call myself  Princess Beautimous Eternally Youthful of the Fabulously Rich clan. But I would still be  middle aged, middle class, with a muffin top, crows feet, and chin hair that proliferates far too quickly. And also, curiously, seems to be invisible until it is at least four inches long.

I don't want Chocolate. I work for Weight Watchers for fuck's sake. I get two pounds leeway. I can gain two pounds just thinking about chocolate, three by looking at it, four by smelling it, five if I consider eating it, and if I actually eat it? I have to start doing that thing where you loop a rubber band through the button hole on your jeans to make them sitting down pants again.

I don't want flowers. They die. It's insane to spend $100 dollars on stuff that dies. Or poops. But that's another post for another day.

You know what I liked? Those little flower pots with the fingerprint lady bugs on them. Hunks of lumpy plaster with misshapen hand imprints. Bookmarks adorned with foam flowers sporting toothless photo centers. Wonderful, horrible poems written in carefully constructed capital letters on dash lined paper. Clusters of  weeds in a dixie cup.

And having a Mom. I really liked having a Mom.

And now I don't and it sucks.

So pardon me if I don't respond to all your "My Mom is Awesome" posts. It's nothing personal. I'm sure your Moms are awesome. But acknowledging your Moms' awesomeness hurts me in a way I find difficult to put into words. Most of the time, I can ignore the lack of motherly awesomeness in my life. But all the relentless awesomemongering forces me to think about how awesome my Mom was and how she's not able to be awesome anymore and how much I took her awesomeness for granted while she was here and how I'll now never be able to express to her how much her awesomeness shaped my life.

Sometimes it's just easier to be angry.

So I am.

I should be over it by Father's Day.

Monday, May 06, 2013

They Called Him Pork Chop

After the response from my post about self  harm, which both surprised and delighted my son, he begins to comprehend the power and the scope of social media in a way he never has before. Which is kind of ironic, considering my readership is pretty nil these days. He asked me to post this video on my blog.  Because in his mind, it's all related. Which breaks my heart in ways you can't even begin to imagine. It makes me cry. I'm crying now and I've already seen it twenty times. I'm not crying because the video is so evocative and is. Ohhhh, it is. But I'm crying because it is so deeply meaningful to him. I wish it wasn't. 

Watch, share, act. Please.


His favorite line from this video..."If you can't see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror."

He thought that was genius. I do too.

Friday, May 03, 2013

No More

We forget the little things.

I sometimes feel an inordinate amount of panic when I think of all those really good moments that have escaped into the deep dark abyss of a perpetually overloaded Mommy brain. I used to try to chronicle everything. But it's impossible. There is too much.

The sigh gulp, sigh gulp cadence of  a nursing baby at your breast. The smell of diaper cream and baby lotion that permeates everything. The sweet ache of holding a sleeping child in your arms and how profound the trust that makes such a thing possible. The sheer delight on a toddler's face when he knocks down the tower of blocks. The way that never gets old or any less thrilling. How a storybook is just as captivating the hundredth time as it was the first. How fiercely little arms can cling. How deeply and unconditionally little hearts can love.

But there are things that stand out in my memory with such stark clarity that I will never forget, even when my babies are grizzled old men with histories independent of the one I have written for them.

Bloody t-shirt day was one of those.

There had been signs.

Repeated indignant calls from the P.E. teacher reporting that my son would not dress out for gym. I didn't find that alarming. He was a pudgy kid who had been incessantly bullied. Why on earth would he make himself so vulnerable as to expose to the world a body he had learned to loathe?

My kitchen shears disappeared. But there are always projects and cutting implements are in high demand when resources are shared. They bounce around from room to room and almost never reside in their rightful place.

Holes appeared in the cuffs of long sleeved shirts, through which to loop thumbs. As a child of the eighties, I knew full well that  fashion trends are often quite bizarre and arbitrary, so again, I didn't question. WE wore our clothing backwards for heaven's sake.

He began to eschew no show socks and opted for crew length instead. I didn't realize that socks held such significance. If there's anything that you take from this, make it that. Socks matter.

The bloody t-shirt though....that I couldn't deny.

I was in an irritated frenzy, pawing through books and DVD cases and crumpled clothing and empty chip bags and (dear God what IS that??? ) dirty underwear looking for a library book that had been missing for ages and for which we had now been assessed a replacement fee. I had worked up a full head of annoyed steam about the mess and the book. I muttered to myself and mentally drafted the dialogue we would have later.

From beneath the bed I pulled something stiff and brown.

At first I was confused. It didn't feel or look like any article of clothing that he owned. It was clearly a garment of some kind, but why the odd color? Why the strange texture? Why the....SMELL???

The odor that reached my nose carried the stink of truth.

Fresh meat.



Ohmygoditscoveredinblood. Heshurtheshurtheshurt. Lotsandlotsandlotsofblood.

From my baby. From my baby. From. My. BABY.

I knew then. The suspicion that had been slowly germinating suddenly bloomed into full awareness along with the real scope of the problem. This was serious. There was a lot of blood and it was no small injury he was inflicting upon himself.

Dear God WHY??? Why??? Why, why, why, why, why?

I sank to ground amid the mess; crumpling papers, cracking cases and snapping pencils, not caring at all as I sobbed into that disgusting shirt. My tears mixed with the blood, which stained my hands an aged and putrid crimson. It was horrifying. Utterly, completely, inconceivably horrifying.

Those were very dark days. I can't even begin to describe the depth of despair, both his and ours. He was angry, ashamed and belligerent. We were terrified, confused and desperate.

I knew he wasn't trying to kill himself, only replace one kind of pain with another. But I feared he would one day cut too deeply and do too much damage. I feared finding him dead, his rich red blood pooled around him like a superhero cape; Captain Exsanguination lying in my son's bed.

I tried to hide anything that would penetrate flesh. But addiction and need spawn ingenuity and stealth. It was a wholly fruitless endeavor. The powerlessness was profound and paralyzing. I could not fix this. I could not heal the wounds on his body or the ones in his heart. I could not ease the torment in his brain. I could do nothing.

I needed people more knowledgeable than myself to deal with this. I had to trust the care of my child to people who knew nothing about him, other than what it said in his case history. I had to relinquish control and have faith, neither of which come very easily to me. But I had no choice and neither did he. He screamed and begged and raged, his tears both defiant and pleading.

"You don't care about me. You just want me out of the way. You can't make me. I hate you."


"Please don't make me go. I'm not crazy. I won't do it again. I love you."

I had to turn a deaf ear to the pleas of my child.

Think about that for a minute.

You can't even imagine a moment like that until you are in it. Every part of you that is connected to your child; heart, mind, body, and soul, compels you to do whatever it takes to stop the tears, ease the pain, offer comfort and provide protection...from the very thing that he needs to get well. You have to TURN OFF the part of you that makes you a mother and make decisions using only logic and reason.

Once, naively, I thought pushing his body from mine was the hardest thing I had ever done or ever would do.

I was wrong.

13 months have passed since he last hurt himself, something he is very proud of. He has worked hard to overcome his compulsion. He has developed tools to cope with the bad feelings. He has been committed to using them. He is getting stronger.

But he is not better.

Last night, as I lay in bed, nearly comatose with exhaustion but as yet unable to quiet my thoughts enough to sleep, there was a knock at the door.

I did not look up as my son entered.

"What is it?" I asked wearily.

"Mom, I fucked up. Help."

That got my attention.

I looked up to see him holding his wrist in one hand, blood dripping from beneath his clenched fingers.

Calm, be calm, don't freak out, don't freak out.

"Well, let me see."

I set about the business of assessing the damage and dressing the wound. I was very matter of fact. He was mostly silent.

Only one cut. Not too deep. He stopped. He stopped. He stopped.

"Do you want to talk about it"?

He did. No more secrets, no more lies, no more shame.

No more bloody t-shirt days.

(Addendum: (not quite so) Diminutive One has read this piece and given his approval for me to post, which, in my opinion, makes him one of the bravest people I know. He wants to raise awareness and get people talking about self harm. We hope this post will help. He also wanted me to mention that the incident that prompted the cutting, didn't really bother him nearly so much as the cutting itself. He was angry with himself for relapsing. But he has resolved to forgive himself and determined to move forward.)