Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hand prints

A soft wash of light funnels in through my doorway. I sit up onto my elbows and turn to him. He is flat-faced to the pillow, making his allegiance to sleep very clear.
 "Which one do you think it is?", I whisper loudly.
Her.  Its her. He halfheartedly agrees. Like a school girl using a bathroom pass as an excuse to ditch class, I spring to my feet and abandon the bed and its invitation to sleep.  Standing in the dark, I see her walk through the splash of light.  My arms reach out to her as if they are weightlessly floating up and away from my body. She glances at me with a frown and continues on her path.  My face crumples.
"What's wrong baby girl?" The words are slow and tiny coming from my mouth.
"I thought that you don't want me anymore." Her voice is breathless and quivering.
"Oh baby girl! I'll always want you. No matter what! You will always be loved. Did you have a bad dream?" (Yes! That must be it! A bad dream.  Because surely she would never think I don't want her.)
And then it happens.  A memory pops into my mind. I remember earlier that day she asked "Mom, how come you don't like it when I touch you so much?" My stomach sank.
I bring baby girl back to her bed and brush the hair from her face, tracing her miniature features.  I float gentle kisses onto her forehead and touch my nose to hers. As she settles next to me, I begin to sing her favorite lullaby.  "Hush little baby don't say a word..." Her eyes lock with mine deeply and she smiles comfortably.  "Mama's gonna buy you a mocking-bird..."
Baby girl is sleeping and now it is safe.  Safe to say all of the things I want her to know, but don't know how to say.
"You are so amazing.  Your hands do so much.  You are creative and smart and all things good.  Don't let anyone make you doubt yourself.  You can do anything you want; be whoever you want to be.  There is no 'right' when it comes to being yourself.  Just I love you more than there are stars in the sky.  I'm proud of you...proud to be your Mama. Now, I know sometimes I seem to pull back from you.  Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and like I'm messing it all up.  But believe me.  I want so much to be close to you."
And then, I get mad.  My face grows hot as my stomach flutters in anger.  This. This, I realize, is evidence of their hands.  A legacy passed down like contaminated water flowing down stream.  I will not let it touch her. I will not let her see their hand prints on me.  She will not be damaged by their misdeeds because I was. Its not fair. I will fight for her.  I will heal for her.  I will learn to wash myself clean so that by her innocence I can be embraced.

Friday, December 31, 2010

OH! The Places You Will Go

Its the last day of 2010 and the final 24 hours of a decade.  10 years since I left home for the first time.  9 years since I bought my first car.. 8 years since the best summer ever. 7 years since I met my husband. 6 years since Chandra died. 5 years since I have graduated college. 4 years since I first became a mother. 3 years since my nephew defied all odds of living. 2 years since I became a mother for the second time. 1 year since I bought my first house. And a month and a half since I ran my first 1/2 marathon.

When standing upon the edge of a new beginning, I can't help but ask: Where have you been?  What moments have marked your past? Which people have etched themselves into those memories; some by coming into your life and others by leaving? Which expectations were met and which ones failed? How has God surprised you this past year?  What ideals became realities?  What will you do differently this coming year?

 Dr. Seuss wrote a book called "Oh, The Places You Will Go."  A good friend of mine introduced me to this book 6 years ago and I've loved it ever since. Are you familiar with it?  Its a great book for new beginnings.  It reminds me that I've got what I need (brains in my head and feet in my shoes) to wend my own way.  It reminds me of the possibilities of life...the potential of the future.


Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.
You’ll look up and down streets. Look’em over with care. About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.” With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet, you’re too smart to go down a not-so-good street.
And you may not find any you’ll want to go down. In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town. It’s opener there in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen and frequently do to people as brainy and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew. Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.
Oh! The Places You’ll Go!
You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don’t.
Because, sometimes, you won’t.
I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you.
You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch. And your gang will fly on. You’ll be left in a Lurch.
You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump.
And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked. Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked. A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin! Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in? How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And if you go in, should you turn left or right…or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite? Or go around back and sneak in from behind? Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find, for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.
No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all. Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be, with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don’t. Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not, Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.
And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants. There are some, down the road between hither and yon, that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.
But on you will go though the weather be foul. On you will go though your enemies prowl. On you will go though the Hakken-Kraks howl. Onward up many a frightening creek, though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak. On and on you will hike. And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
Kid, you’ll move mountains!
So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray or Mordecai Ale Van Allen O’Shea, you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Oh the places we will go in this new this new DECADE.  This is the season for fresh slates...for resolutions and changes...for new plans and adventures. Where are you going?  Who are the people that will be etched in when you look back on 2011 next December 31st?  Oh the places we will go without even knowing that we're going there.  The places that we never thought we were strong enough to go to we may actually go to this year.  Oh, the places we've always dreamed of going to and the ones we wish we could have avoided we may be part of our memories of 2011.

May you climb your mountains this year, remembering to smile on your way up; knowing that you have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.  Knowing that although you cannot control life, you can control how you respond to it.  Believing that you can be the change you want to see. Happy 2011 my friends. Get on your way!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010


There is a moment every day, that I pause to see myself.  As the water runs behind me in the tub, I peel off my clothes. I turn to the side and inspect my back; craning my neck in wonder and always doubting the honesty of my own eyes. I trace the smooth lines of my hips and stomach; evaluate their loyalty and decide whether or not to be disappointed. There are bruises where i've pinched and pulled the skin around my sides.  Soreness where i've pushed and tested and demanded much of myself.  I suck in the air around me and step tip toed into the shower.  The water is warm and washes away the outside.  I look down at my belly and watch the little streams of water pool in the center of my belly button.  Is this the way it should look? My hands move to the soft fleshy slope of my abdomen and then down the sides of my legs. Are they bigger today?  And then, I hear it. There is a voice that intersects my thoughts. It is calm and wiser than the self deprecation that scorns my thoughts. 
"You are not damaged. You are enough. Everything is okay at this moment right where you are."  I question this voice, but only slightly.  She seems older than I and much stronger.  I decide to believe her.  "These outer parts do not determine your inner parts.  They do not make you a better or worse mother, wife, friend, sister, or daughter.  Let go.  Let yourself accept them. Love them."
I close my eyes and feel a warmth dance from my rib cage up to my throat. Present in the moment, I feel whole.  I feel bliss.  I feel loved and accepted. 
I shut off the water and pull open the shower curtain.  Faced with my own reflection, I smile at my naked self.  Everything is just the way it should be; no betrayals, no disappointment, no disparagement. 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ordinary day

Awake. 6:20am.  Shuffle to the bathroom. Put in contacts. Wipe mascara from under eyes.  Pull on gym clothes. Sigh deeply. Tie back hair. Eat cereal. Brush teeth. Prepare car food for babies. Grab Jared's lunch. Load kids into car. Drive 24 miles to drop Jared off at work.  Sing along to Dr. Seuss DVD.  Head to Gym. Drop off kids. Call friend. Vent to friend.  Cry to friend.  Friend gives 2.5 hours worth of therapeutic advice. Meanwhile, bike 10 miles.  Feel like quitting. Run 3.5.  Rock the abs.  Pick up kids. Sanitize hands.  Walk to consignment shop.  Run after Jack. Call for Sadie. Dig through size 6 shoes. Run after Jack. Hold him as he squirms and screams to try on shoe. Release him. Dig through size 7 shoes.  Call for Jack. Look for Jack. Retrieve Jack from employee-only storeroom area.  Try 3 more shoes on him. Release Jack.  Call for Sadie.  Decide on shoes.  Call for Jack.  Look for Jack. Retrieve Jack from store manager. Return items Jack pulled from shelves. Return to shoes. Look for Sadie. Look for Jack. Remove Jack from jogging stroller on display.  Make way to counter to pay for shoes. Notice jogging stroller moving. Remove Jack screaming from stroller.  Answer phone. Remove Sadie from stroller.  Kiss a boo boo.  Return to counter. Pay for shoes. Call for Jack. Find him with store manager.  Exit store.  Walk back to gym. Strap kids into the car. Sanitize hands. Distribute granola bars and water.  Drive to Kohls.  Search for a cart with a double stroller aspect.  Find one 7 carts deep into the row.  Load kids into cart. Go to customer service to return item. Return to car to find receipt.  Go back inside store. Head to the bathroom.   Return to customer service counter.  Return item.  Search for shorts. No luck.  Exit Kohls.  Load kids into the car.  Search for binkie.  Text a friend.  Call a friend.  Head to Post Office.  Look for custom's forms. No luck. Attempt to figure out best way to ship package to Iraq.  No luck. Wait in line. Retrieve tic tacs from Sadie. Stop Jack from pushing a little girl.  Apologize to little girl and her mother on behalf of Jack.  Call for Sadie.  Wait in line.  Watch postal worker speak to customers in condescending tone.  Make sympathetic eye contact with three customers who interacted with angry postman. Imagine myself going off on mean postman. Call for Sadie.  Comfort Jack.  Wait in line.  Wait in line. Wait. In. Line. Arrive at head of line. Seek advice of postman. Thank Heaven that its not the condescending one. Fill out Custom's form.  Seek advice regarding the proper way to address package. Address package. Pay $5. Watch postman attach Custom's form.  Realize my Daddy's in Iraq. Feel lump in throat. Begin to cry.  Take a deep breath. Call for Sadie.  Walk to Car. Load up kids. Drive to H-E-B. Find awesome parking spot. Unload kids. Walk into store.  Look for "race car" shopping cart.  No luck. Walk to other side of giant store to find race car.  No luck. Load kids into non-race car shopping cart.  Compensate for lack of race car by giving both children a balloon and sucker (given free at the door).  Sample cheese. Observe the lobsters. Start shopping.  Deep sigh.  Contemplate the budget.  Strategically purchase food in a calculated manner as not to waste a penny.  Deny requests for candy. Search for Jared's favorite BBQ chips. Put chips in basket.  Realize Jack has eaten through unopened sucker and  is covered in red stickiness. Cross length of the store to restroom.  Wash Jack's hands.  Wash Sadie's hands. Wash front of shopping cart.  Exit restroom.  Back to shopping.  Finish and pay.  Begin to leave. Turn around to retrieve "Buddy Buck's" per request of screaming 3 year old.  Take Buddy Bucks to claw-arm vending machine. Try to put fake Buddy Buck money into vending machine.  No luck. Machine broken. Comfort Sadie. Comfort Jack. Cross the length of big ass store for the 6th time.  Find another "Buddy" machine.  Put buck into machine. Allow Sadie to retrieve stickers from machine. Give Jack a turn. Attempt to help Jack. Get slapped. Try to calm Jack. Attempt to help him again. Get slapped.  Threaten to leave.  Try to help Jack. Get slapped.  Start to walk away.  Sadie starts to cry on Jack's behalf.  Help Jack get stickers.  Leave store.  Load kids into car.  Distribute apple juice.  Load groceries into the car.  Return cart. Answer phone. Argue with husband. Eat sushi.  Drive home. Unload kids. Unload groceries. Put groceries away. Feel like sitting on couch. Make lunch for the kids. Check Facebook. Comment on status updates. Feel lonely. Change diaper. Change clothes. Find Binkie. Find lovey. Bring kids upstairs for a nap.  Clean kitchen. Begin to prep for dinner. Wake kids. Eat a banana. Load kids into the car. Drive 24 miles to USAA. Check in with security at the gate.  Receive text message. Husband working late. Search for a library. Exit USAA's campus. Drive to library. Answer phone. Husband is ready.  Return DVDs to library.  Return to USAA to pick up husband.  Call husband.  Check in with security at the gate. Enter campus. Drive to parking garage. Pick up husband.  Drive home. Unload kids. Check for scorpions.  Finish cooking dinner.  Clean kitchen.  Eat tofu stir fry.  Decide to mow the lawn.  Attempt to put gas into the mower. Spill gas everywhere.  Clean up gas.  Mow the lawn. Edge the grass.  Close garage.  Go inside.  Peel off clothes.  Jump in shower.  Breathe deeply.  Think about ice cream. Wash. Dry. Clothe. Find Jack in bathroom.  Hear Sadie in her room.  Kiss Jack good night.  Tuck Sadie into bed. Snuggle. Sing "You are my Sunshine" and the "Lullabye Song". Collect dirty clothes. Run downstairs. Think about ice cream. Put away left overs. Clean the kitchen. Feel like quitting. Think about ice cream. Wipe the table. Put clothes into washer. Pick up toys. Vacuum living room. Think about ice cream. Contemplate stopping.  Sweep kitchen and dining room.  Mop floors.  Open freezer. Find ice cream. Scoop ice cream into bowl. Open refrigerator. Find raspberry sauce.  Swirl sauce onto ice cream.  Sit down.  Breathe.  Savor. Every. Bite. Of ice cream.  Turn on computer.Check email. Look through family pictures. Write e-mail. Check facebook. Read updates. Make comments. Sign into blog. Begin to write. Decide to write for myself and no one else. Find a sense of self gratification. 11:53pm. Ready to sleep.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lessons on emotions

Sitting at the kitchen table feeding Jack.  Sadie walks in and climbs on top of a chair in a cowgirl skirt and a big black bow in her hair:
"Are you hungry, Sadie?"
" Nahhhh...I'm not hungry, I'm disappointed."
I'm caught off guard by such a grand articulation from my tiny 3 year old.
"Why are you disappointed, Sadie."
"Because I can't play with my toys."
"You can play with your toys, baby."
"I can't do it because I need to get in the hop-tub."
Apparently, Sadie wanted to go swimming, but it was too cold so she set her heart upon the "hop-tub."

Standing at the sink, washing dishes.  Sadie walks in and hides behind my leg. She's twisting her feet and leaning against the cabinet below the sink.  Her face is drooped into what my daddy calls a "puppy dog face."

"What's the matter, Sadie?"
"I'm sad."
"Why are you sad?"
"Because my daddy makes me sad."
" did daddy make you sad?"
"Because he make me sad and he's not my best friend."
"Who's your best friend?"
"Daddy not my best friend anymore."
"Daddy's not your best friend?"
"No. He won't let me have the ball and he's not my best friend.  My heart is broke."
I peer into the living room and see Jared laying on the floor tossing a ball into the air.
"Jared! You better let Sadie play with that ball! You broke her heart and she says you're not her best friend anymore!"
He chuckled in amusement and called out to Sadie, who played ball for a few minutes and then snuggled next to him on the floor.