A Mother’s Lament

Angry wilted flower of youth
trying to put a new step forward
Tired of pushing another to
do for themselves
Tired of the resistant wall
that can’t be knocked down
Tired of not being heard
or thought of
or appreciated
Cry through the heartache
Yell through the anger
Take a step back
let them fall
let them fail
let them hurt
let them know
you will be there
Suffering and loving
until they understand
for themselves
is easier said than done

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Thankful

I have seen an endless amount of posts on Facebook this month mentioning what people are thankful for. For every day of the month, people write one thing they are thankful for and although I long to have the discipline to try to do something everyday, I lack the ability to try to sum it all up in one statement a day, so with that being said, this is my month of thanks all rolled into one post.

I am incredibly thankful for the warm snuggly man sleeping upstairs hogging the entire bed in hopes that my side will be warm by the time I join him. When I say he is my best friend, I don’t say these words lightly. He brings out the best parts of myself, understands the worst, and supports me as I travel down the road of life. I have no idea what I would do without him by my side taunting me and helping me to become a better person. He’s exhausting, loving, affectionate, and so very hard on himself and I am so very thankful he is mine.

I am thankful for my son for he is why I am here today. I am so very proud of the sweet, intelligent, and talented man he has become. Every heartache he brings and every smile he inflicts is a testament to me doing something right. Becoming a mommy at the age of eighteen is never an easy thing and I would never recommend it to someone. However, because we grew up together, his opinion of me is just as important as my opinion of him and I have an incredible desire for him to be just as proud of the woman who loved him first. I am so glad his little soul found mine all those years ago.

I am thankful for my beautiful daughter with her wild, loving, and affectionate heart. I am so proud of how she grasps her own personality and struggles while she finds others who will accept it rather than changing for those who don’t. I love her giving nature and how she doesn’t understand how humans can be so mean to each other. I am thankful for her desire to still snuggle with her Mama before she starts her day at the tender age of eleven and I am so thankful for her ability to march to the beat of her own drum when so many others don’t have the courage.

I am thankful for my amazing father. He has truly become one of my best friends. He has picked me up at my weakest moments, praised me when I needed it most, given me words of advice, and hugged me when I just needed a daddy, very very badly. He was the first man I ever loved and the role model in which I have judged all others. We are too much a like and have moments in which we lash out, but I am the parent I am today because he showed me how it’s done.

I am thankful for my fabulous siblings. Not only because they are the link to my past and future, but because of the people they are today. I am thankful for every single phone call my sister makes to me, even when she makes claims of stalking. Her support of me is so very loved and needed. She is my personal cheerleader in life and I could never imagine a moment without her. I am thankful for the strength of her outstanding husband and her loving kids. My brother has become the man I always knew he would become. I am thankful for the strength he has within himself to have seen the light at the end of the tunnel. He is beautiful, proud, and softer than he appears. I am thankful for the lovely woman he has brought into our lives and his gorgeous daughter. I am thankful for my other brother in his ability to straddle the lines between two families with such grace. It is never easy being a child caught between a blended family. We claimed him as our own years ago and ours he continues to be.

I am thankful for the open arms of my fabulous in-laws. They accepted me and my son in a time when I was so unsure of myself. They showed me such love and I continue to be humbled and honored to not only have them as my own, but for their giving nature and ability to continue to inspire me to be better than I could ever hope to be. I am also thankful they have raised such an amazing son for without their guidance, I wouldn’t have the husband I have today.

I am thankful for my job. Yes, the one I gripe about on a regular basis. It has given me the opportunity to not only work full time, but be a Mommy. I have been able to go on field trips and participate in activities without having to always use vacation time. I have managers that although drive me batty, are willing to work around children sick days, me going back to school, family emergencies, and on some days just simply having the desire to leave early because everyone needs to play hooky every once in awhile.

I am thankful for quiet nights and moonlit skies. I am thankful for the guitar pic in my pocket and the dear friend I was with when I got it. I am thankful for wine and girl nights and my cats when they’re warming my lap when no amount of clothing will ease the chill. I am thankful for road trips and strangers who never need to know my name. I am thankful for my Mother and all the things she taught me in her short life. I am thankful for my pillow and coffee and old movies and Johnny Depp. I am thankful for my step-mother and her constant desire to be everyone’s something and yet never her own. I am thankful for her friendship although it’s not what it used to be. I am thankful for my Grandmother. For her years of insight, love, support, and honesty. I am thankful for my family and I’m thankful for my friends.

So, before this list of thankfulness gets any longer, take a moment and list the things you’re thankful for. List even the bad things that may have turned good in the end. List even the smallest thing. Be sappy about it, be brave, and then go out and spread it around. There are those out there who have so very little to be thankful for. Be the change.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Da Vinci’s Paintbrush

I think everyone reaches a point in their life where they ask themselves, “What the hell am I doing?” That midlife crisis seems to sneak up on us when we least expect it. For me, that age was 38. The age my mother was when she lost her battle with Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. The age I could never see beyond for she was my mile marker. She had put a huge roadblock on my path without even realizing it and I hated her for it. Hate is such a strong word. I hurt for her. I hurt for what she lost and would never see. I hurt for the conversations we were missing out on and I was hurting for her scent, her hugs, her anger, her pain, her happiness, her own life changes. At the beginning of the year, I decided I wasn’t going to let my 38th year get the best of me and I was going to make changes that were going to alter my mind and soul for the better. I didn’t know quite how I was going to accomplish this, but it was going to happen regardless.

As the day approached, I realized I needed to get the hell away. To become accustomed with the girl I had kept in the dark for so long. This girl was a bit annoying. She has a bad habit of starting things and not finishing them. She has low self esteem issues and battles with self doubt. This is quite the opposite of what most people think of her. I wasn’t quite sure I wanted to get to know her and yet the necessity of it was there. I had once told my Dad the biggest fear I had in life was the fear of “ending up”. I didn’t want to look back on life and say, “What the fuck have I done?” Being a mommy was never meant to be my only job. It has however, brought me to the path I find myself on now and it’s so different than I thought it would be. This is not a bad thing, it’s just different. I’ve made so many mistakes. Being a first child myself, I knew I was going to mess up and use my boy as a guinea pig in the land of parenthood. What I got from this experiment of human error, is a loving, sensitive young man who although pisses me off on a fairly regular basis, amazes me at every turn. I have a daughter who makes me happy with the creative brightness that shines off of her entire being. She is emotional and kind and has a sense of wonder with her world. I have an outstanding, loving husband who supports me and understands my kind of crazy; and yet I knew I still needed to get away from all of them.

I made plans to follow back roads up and over the Mackinac Bridge and get myself up to Tahquamenon Falls. I had never seen Lake Superior or driven across the bridge on my own, On Monday July 28th, I dropped the daughter off to camp and loaded up the Honda Pilot with camping gear and food with the intention of spending each night in a different State Campground. I have never been on a trip by myself. Although I enjoy my quiet time, I enjoy conversation and this was a huge step for me. I was scared, nervous, and so very excited.

Ready to hit the road.

Ready to hit the road.

My son kissed me on my forehead while saying, “Have fun Mama” and waved as I pulled out of the driveway. Day one, I planned on being in Leelanau State Park. I headed towards the lake shore to catch the scenic route going north from Muskegon. I was able to grab some soda’s at Snug Harbor Outfitters, the shop owned by my fabulous sister and brother in-law before silencing myself until I had a local or forest ranger to talk to.

The first rule of travel is, get off of the interstate. Get yourself onto the two lane highways and see this gorgeous land we live in. The scent of the water, sweet grass, and the heat of the sun radiating off the pavement is reason enough. You can roll your windows down and stick your arm out the window. Left arm farmer tans are sexy and proof that you’re road warrior. Be proud of it.

The scenic route going north.

The scenic route going north.

I completely ignored my GPS most of the time. If I didn’t, I would never have found the gem that was my first stop. In the little town of Manistee, Michigan, there is a gorgeous beach with a sign saying the land ends before you find yourself tumbling down a small dune to Lake Michigan.

The Land Ends NOW!

The Land Ends NOW!

I kicked off my flip flops and walked down to the water. There really is nothing that compares to the feel of sand between the toes. I took a deep breath and looked up to see; vultures. Yes dear people you read that right. Vultures. I was so excited to see such large birds swarming overhead, thinking I was watching hawks. Nope. These things are huge. Turkey vultures wingspan average around 5 ½ feet. Although not as majestic as the hawk, still pretty impressive. I took pictures, closed my eyes, and smiled only to realize I had no idea what the habits of these birds were and really had no desire to start my trip off having to clean bird poop off of me for they flew low and right above me. Content with the amount of wind, waves, and sunshine in my system, I head back to the Pilot, popped in some Jackson Browne and continued on my way.

Me, Myself, and I

Me, Myself, and I

I rolled into Northport around 8pm, after taking my sweet time going down random roads just to see where they went, grabbed a bottle of wine from the corner gas station meets convenience store and continued onto the state park. I had my pick of sites that night and took the recommendation from the ranger at the gate. My site was across the road from the beach and once I had my tent set up I walked out to the water to watch my first sunset.

First Sunset

First Sunset

I was at the top of the pinky of Michigan. I could get no further north than where I was at without driving into the water. I sprayed myself with bug spray, made a fire and a humble meal of a roasted veggie brat, and filled my water bottle with wine. My cheeks hurt from having a constant smile on my face. I went to bed early that night but woke up when my bladder was about to burst. The wine I had consumed was not going to let me wait until morning before letting me know of it’s existence. As I made my way down the road to the outhouse I looked up to the sky with a deep breath and almost stumbled in shock at the night sky. I had never seen so many stars. I raced to the toilet in order to take my time getting back to my tent. Once I was done doing the potty dance, I was able to enjoy the sky. I took slow steps and kept my flashlight off in order to take it all in. When you’re that far away from any city lights, there is no end to the stars. I had a difficult time finding where the dark part of the sky was, for the stars looked as if Da Vinci had come by with his brush to shake the paint from its bristles onto black canvas, with the intention of covering it completely. It was amazing and I was standing there crying with the sheer joy of it. Before climbing back into my tent, I went out to the beach again. I stood there like a kid seeing a shooting star for the first time. I felt so small at that moment. I realized then, that some questions in life just couldn’t be answered. Some of them were meant to stay a mystery and it was okay. I fell back to sleep with the sound of the waves hitting the shore.

My Blueberry Girl

My daughter is going to be eleven at the end of the month. She’s going through the phase that every child goes through. The excitement of growing up, yet still have the desire to hold onto childhood.  She has experienced shopping for her first bra, has been introduced to deodorant and the need to put on extra for game days, and the benefit of daily showers. She has developed her first crush and the bitter reality of “mean girls”.  She is discovering her own style, how to fix her hair, and the loveliness of going to bed with a clean face.  Through all of this, she is still just a little girl and although I’m blunt and honest with her about body changes, boys, and sex, I can not protect her from all the dangers and heartbreaks that come from simply being a girl. I believe my fear to be no different than any other parent. With the amazing gain in technology, we have also left plenty of room for negativity. The increase of bullying and teen suicide is something that greatly worries me. It’s difficult enough to go through the awkward years of braces, gangly limbs, and increased appetite as your body tries to accommodate the speed in which it’s growing, without having to deal with the worry of who is saying what on social media.  Teens now grow up in a world where a whispered secret in a so called friends ear can spread through text messaging or Youtube before the bell rings for the next class.  Kids can be cruel and often don’t think of the long term consequences of their actions.

 

There is a poem written by Neil Gaiman that was turned into a beautiful picture book illustrated by Charles Vess. The poem was written for Tori Amos and her daughter Tash while Tash was still sleeping sweetly in the womb. It tells the short tale of The Blueberry Girl with Gaiman’s prayer for her to stay waking and wise and let her have brave days and truth. Her joys must be high as her sorrows are deep. He pleads to help her to stand and to lose and to find. He ends it with this. “Truth is a thing she must find for herself, precious, and rare as a pearl; Give her all these, and a little bit more, Gifts for a Blueberry Girl.” His words are so perfect a lesson for parents.

 

Girls have so much of the world on their shoulders. We are in a constant state of contradiction. Be strong, but not stronger than a man. Suck up those tears for they’re a sign of weakness. If we’re too masculine, we must be a lesbian and if we’re too feminine, we’re considered old fashioned and bashed by the feminists. We have to work harder to make the same money as men do and as Ginger Rogers would say, we do it backwards in heels. We have so much more to prove in this world of ours. I feel like I’m preparing my girl for battle. Where is her invincible suit of armor? Can she be taught how to use a bow and arrow like the elves in Lord of the Rings, a sword like Joan of Arc, and could she please have Wonder Woman’s golden lasso?  Believe me, if this is what it takes, I’ll do it.  Despite the humor and bluntness I use when speaking with her, I am still fearful. I am fearful for her tender heart and her beautiful sensitivity to others. People take advantage of souls like her. Maybe I’m selling her short. She is sassy and can usually hold her own, but it’s when she lets down the blinds that shield her emotions that I come undone and I can only hope that I will continue to give her the tools to be able to stand on her own.