ten or so years later

I don't talk much about my marriage. At least not here. The reason being is mostly intentional; I believe that some things in life shouldn't be broadcasted, especially when the other player on your team is much more introverted and private than you've ever been. 

The other, maybe not-so-intentional reason I leave such a large part of my life off of these virtual pages is that I have a hard time putting what I have with Joe into so many words. Not because it's this perfect, almighty thing and words could never do it justice; but, because it is profound in its' normalcy and how do I even begin to describe the one thing that finally convinced me that being normal could be so, so good?


It's tricky. I don't want to oversell our relationship because the last ten years have definitely had their fair share of ups and downs, both contributing just as much to our relationship as the other. I also don't want to ignore it because doing so feels like I'm leaving out a main character in my life, one who I spend almost every day, and one with whom I've created a beautiful life (and two tiny humans) that I'm damn proud of.


We leave for Tulum in a couple of days to celebrate experiencing the highs and lows of life beside each other for ten years now. Typically, we're not the kind of couple to publicly butter each others' biscuits but ten years is Ten Years and Ten Years most definitely qualifies a biscuit or two to be buttered. So, in honor of a decade spent loving and loathing this guy (more on the loathing part, in a bit), I'd rather just tell you all that I've learned.


The highlights aren't the only reel worth remembering. The fuck-ups, the outtakes, the bloopers, the behind-the-scenes, all of the work that nobody sees-- they're the moments that make you and your partner you and your partner. Joe and I weathered some real shit storms earlier in our relationship and I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't wished I could forget those periods of time at some point or another. The truth is, of course, that we learned a hell of a lot more about how to be good to the other because of the storms we trekked through, not the perfect runs in our relationship that photograph better for our long term memory box.

Apologies aren't asses. You should never follow-up an apology with a but. You don't necessarily have to apologize for the behavior if you can, in good mind, stand by it. However, I do believe that if you care about your partner in any real capacity, you should always apologize for hurting them without defending or justifying why you did it, even unintentionally. When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don't get to decide that you didn't or that it was somehow excusable. If you defend why you hurt the person you love while apologizing, you're not actually sorry. You're just an asshole with a half-assed apology. So, ere on the side of caution and don't do it. 

Agree on life's important matters. At some point during the first night we spent together, when we first began dating, I made a point to ask him if he was a cuddler. To put it nicely, I am not. To put it more accurately, I fucking loathe cuddling. It gives me anxiety and I start to sweat and begin experiencing feelings of claustrophobia. I have always likened a person who actually enjoys cuddling all night to a sociopath, in need of deep, deep emotional evaluation. And even though I wasn't thinking of a future with this guy at that point, I knew that Joe turning out to be a cuddler would be an immediate deal breaker and the relationship would be doomed. (Spoiler: he was not and we have been happily sleeping with three feet between us ever since.)

Pick your battles. I hate sports and find them trivial. And so. very. boring. So, naturally, I married and procreated with a man whose emotional state is so deeply tied to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill basketball program that he can't find the energy to utter a single syllable for hours after they lose while a loss during March Madness has been known to elicit a very quiet day or two. For years, I found this level of devotion to something I couldn't fathom why anyone would be devoted to... how do I say it?... I found it rather pathetic. Meanwhile, he couldn't wrap his brain around why I would rather spend four hours pinching my own eyeballs than sit through and watch an entire football game with a bunch of other maniacal and equally devoted group of Carolina-blue wearing fools. Over the course of years, we've accepted that this difference of opinion will likely always remain and it's something we both just have to get over and hate to love about the other.

Fight clean, play dirty. Don't say anything you can't recover from and once those apologies-without-but's are uttered, take all of that frustration and make up in the most creative way you can imagine. I hope you're catching my drift here. 

I'm not always right. Shocking, I know, but it's true. I'm much more willing to tuck my tail between my legs and own my mistakes when I accept that I'm actually capable of making them. The bottom line is that a healthy dose of humility goes a lot further than being a stubborn ass ever could. There's also something to having a partner who shows you more grace than you will ever deserve. (Thanks for that, Joe.)

Have some fucking fun. Or, better yet, have too much fun. For the first few years of our relationship, we each took ourselves way too seriously. Life is the most difficult simple thing ever but it doesn't need to be that serious, you know?! Now that we're a little more seasoned at life and are able to distinguish what actually matters from what we're told should matter, we make an effort to dance in the kitchen, act silly, take weekend vacations without the kids, drink too much wine, etc. It's going to be a very looooong life not having any fun with the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.

Don't give up at the same time. I'm a realist; I have never lived under the assumption that Joe nor I will never doubt whether or not we can survive whatever storm we find ourselves facing. You are setting yourself and your partner up for failure if you expect the next fifty or so years to consist of nothing but bliss. But, I'm also an optimist in that I wholeheartedly believe that as long as we never give up on each other at the same time, we should, in theory, be able to figure it out.



J, thank you for proving me wrong when I told you all those years ago that we weren't meant be together and thanks for not being afraid of a little work. Thanks for helping me create those two spectacular humans we call our daughters. thanks for being so damn attractive. Thank you for the balance and for all of the laughs. thanks for always loving me the way only you can.



a letter to my littlest


Edie being Edie at eighteen months, laying on the floor and pondering the meaning of life.

Dear my sweet, sweet Edie Cooper,

When I found out it was you growing in my belly, I knew.


I knew it was you, Edie Bun.


I knew it would be you who would soften us, reminding us to kind always. I know it'd be you who'd serve as the living and breathing reminder of what's important and at stake and, also, what isn't. I knew it'd be you who'd remind me to slow down, to take a deep breath, and to revel in the magic that is being loved by you and your sister.

Whereas your sister knocked me off my axis, obliterating any semblance of what I thought my life would be and how little I was prepared for what life was about to become, changing the course of my life for the better forever, it was you who brought me back around to myself. It was you who reminded me of all that is good and hopeful. I knew it would be you who would heal old wounds, giving me the grace to forgive myself for all that I wasn't able to be after your sister was born. Whereas your sister made me a mother, you taught me how to be the mama I was always capable of being.


Edie, though I couldn't quite explain why at the time, I knew that I needed you, I needed you like I need air to breathe. I need you to know that I could do this and I could do it well.


In spite of how frustrating the last nine or so months have been with the eight+ ear infections, the surgery for tubes, mysteriously knocking out a tooth, consistently surviving on such very little sleep (much better than your mother, I might add), and, now, having Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, you're still you. Even just one of those circumstances should justify anyone for feeling like a ray of pitch black. But not you.


Not, you, my little ray of sunshine.



Edie, you are my inspiration, you are our magic, and you are my daily reminder of all that is good.

I love you to the moon and back, Edie Bun.

Thank you for being YOU.





five things | from the week I learned all the things

1. It's 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. I'm sitting on my front stoop drinking coffee while Edie watches people run a half marathon. Watching people run is the same thing as actually running, right? No? Any who, watching people run a race never fails to make me cry. I'm that girl who always cries watching people do something they've trained for, no matter the event. (Turns out, I'm not made entirely of stone. Whoodathunk?!) Partly because my body hurts for them because running has always felt like such a miserable experience but mostly because I'm incredibly inspired by anyone who runs for fun.

2. You remember when your mom used to go to Tupperware parties when you were younger and you would sometimes tag along because you were absolutely NOT about to turn down a dinner of crust-less cucumber sandwiches, red neck sushi (a flour tortilla, ham, cream cheese, and lettuce cut like a sushi roll), and store-bought cupcakes? Well, replace the Tupperware with silicone, water-safe adult entertainment massage devices *wink wink* and the cucumber sandwiches with wine and you've got yourself the highlight of my week. Sitting around and discussing the Art of the Female Orgasm really makes one realize how far women have come in a society that still likes to pretend that women aren't (or shouldn't be) sexual beings. I will say that being asked to draw your ideal penis on a piece of paper on top of your head without looking was much more difficult that one would expect. Hence the facial expression I'm displaying in this photo with my oldest and dearest friend, Jenn.

3. I wrote yesterday about not always feeling like I'm living up to the mom I want to be. I got a response on Instagram from a sweet mama who told me that she identifies with the expressed sentiment because she "often feels lost between all the mushy-love-of-my-life-as-a-mom women." And I get it. Women are often sold this idea that becoming a mother will somehow create this unique and life-altering shift where we no longer identify as the individual we once were because identifying as someone's mother makes the person we once were unidentifiable. "I don't remember what life was like before I had Lucy..." "I can't imagine life without Most Perfect Child Ever..." Well, I call bullshit. I definitely remember my life before I became a mom and it was glorious. I imagine a life without children and all I can see is a more well-rested version of myself who isn't anxious and constantly covered in something I can't identify. I'm absolutely not saying that I actually want that life again but I can sure as shit imagine it. Entering motherhood doesn't guarantee that we'll experience that epiphany that so much of what we once thought matters doesn't actually matter. Having a human exit your body or however you get ushered into martyrdom doesn't mean that you are no longer entitled to still the person you once were or that you were any less complete before your little gremlin showed up. There is a lot that could be said on this topic and I want to discuss it in further detail at some point. The bottom line is that I find the whole projection of Motherhood is Everything unfair while also setting so many of us up for failure. So, can we just stop? Can we quit selling (and buying into) this idea that motherhood is the end-all, be-all for ALL women? And if you aren't a mother by choice or you are and aren't entirely fulfilled by it, that maybe, just maybe, it's... I don't know... okay? *end rant*

4. Stupid. That's what someone called me this week because we had a difference of political opinion. Don't most people learn how to respectfully agree to disagree in elementary school? I'm fairly certain that calling someone stupid because they don't see things in the exact light you do says a hell of a lot more about you as a human being than any opinion on any matter could ever say about the person you find stupid. It says you're very likely intolerant, close-minded, and judgemental as fuck. Calling someone stupid (or any other name) also leads me to believe that YOU are probably not very intelligent (and probably a giant brat) if you're a grown adult who still calls people names when you don't get your way. Interestingly enough, I've been called many things over the course of my life by many different people for a multitude of reasons. Some were true while others were obviously reaching with no basis of truth to fall back on whatsoever. And, yet, over the course of twenty-nine years of name-calling, stupid has never, EVER been one of them. I wonder if it's because I'm not?

5. I've been suffering from a bit of writer's block lately. It wasn't until this week when everyone started being assholes and everything in my life started acting like it was out to get me that I was able to realize exactly why I couldn't seem to form a sentence that was worth reading. The problem was that writing about being happy is much harder than writing about one's problems. As soon as shit started hitting the fan, all the words came faster than I could keep up. I find it ironic that I almost always tend to have the most to say (or the most to try to make sense of) when I have the least amount of spare time to figure out a way to say it. But whatever. I guess Hemingway was right. You should write hard and clear about what hurts, if only because it's easier to write about because being happy is boring. He could have, however, been a little more of a team player and advised aspiring writers to find another hobby when you don't have anything to bitch and moan about.


Happy Saturday, folky folks.

Let's make it count.



the mom I want to be

So, here's the thing....


I very much want to be the mom who doesn't gets frustrated when her kid seems to always be sick. I aim to be the mom who doesn't lose her patience and begins crying at three a.m. because her baby is so uncomfortable and miserable that she can't stop moving and let herself fall asleep and there is nothing she can do to help her. I ache to be the mom who handles being tired well, never leading on to anyone she comes across that she's so fucking exhausted she can't see straight. I aspire to be the mom who doesn't resent her husband when he leaves to go out of town with their other daughter to go have fun in Chapel Hill while she stays back and holds down the fort and sleeps beside what looks like The Bubonic Plague. I should be the mom who is nothing less than honored to be the ONLY person her sick kid wants to hold her in the middle of the night. I yearn to be the mom who somehow always manages to make it better, no matter the circumstances, no matter the ailments, no matter the time of day (or night). I am desperate to be the mom who isn't anxious and worried about catching what her kid has and how that would affect her upcoming (already paid for) vacation in five days. I wish I was the mom who never felt sorry for herself because she knows that her life is still pretty fucking grand.


I am not that mom.


At least, I'm not that mom today.


But I am the mom who never turns down a hug or opportunity for her baby to nuzzle her neck, even when she fears she could catch the Bubonic Plague by doing so. I'm the mom who, when facing that feeling of helplessness, will always be helpful by soothing her baby's soul via her belly. I'm the mom who emotionally and mentally bears the weight of her baby being sick and would do anything in her power to take away the pain. I'm the mom who lays in the grass for over an hour as she watches her miserable baby touch every single blade of grass she desires because if being outside makes her happy, goddammit, this mom will stay out here forever. I'm the mom who knows her baby so intrinsically, down to every last detail, that she knows immediately, deep down in her bones, when something is off.


I'm the mom who gives herself some grace, apologizes for her exhaustion-induced grumpiness when she snaps, tries her best to be her best, and loves her family with every thing she has.


I'm the mom who has learned over the years that, more often than not, the mom we are is the only mom we need to be. The wishings and the wantings and those feelings of not quite measuring up to the ideal we have in our head of the mom we should be don't actually matter to the people who really matter. 


And, some days, the simple reminder that you and your best are enough is enough to make you feel like the mom you so badly want to be.

thoughts on being a mess

You know how when a bunch of little nothings all amount to what feels like big fucking somethings and the weight of all those nothings-turned-into-somethings finally breaks any ability you typically have to maintain any semblance of perspective?


Because that's me right now, shoulders actively bowing down under the weight of life occasionally being a real son of a bitch. 


While the finer details of all those said nothings aren't even worth their weight to get into here, they are still enough of something to mentally and emotionally wear on me because I'm human. When they're then compounded by Edie coming down with a case of hand, foot, and mouth disease, I am not only human but I become a human bound to lose her shit.


And I did.


As I sat at my desk on the phone with one of my best friends this morning, the levy broke and I unloaded, tears streaming down my face for no reason and for every reason. I typically pride myself on being able to keep life in perspective during the days that require more effort than others, always making a point to remind myself that it could be worse and, for many people, it is. Sometimes, though, a girl just needs a good ugly cry in her best friend's empathetic ear in order to pull herself together.


But, for fuck's sake, Life. Give a girl (and her littlest girl) a break, will you? 


I live under the assumption that things going wrong is simply par for the course of life. I also know that I can't always fix whatever is going wrong and that's okay with me. Usually, anyway. 

Motherhood is the one area of my life where not being able to fix whatever is wrong isn't and never will be an easy pill to swallow. Feeling helpless as a mother feels cruel, like pouring salt in an already open and incredibly vulnerable wound. Lately with Edie, it's only felt as if I've been sitting outside of that realm of control and, admittedly, I'm struggling with that. Not because I'm a control freak but, rather, because I can't find anything to grasp onto for balance when shit is hitting the proverbial fan. It's making me dizzy. And tired. Very, very tired.


All of this is, I guess, just to say that I'm human and sometimes need to talk about it. And that life is hard. It's even harder when your kid is sick (again) and people are assholes. 


Here's to trekking through the trenches of motherhood, the dear and empathetic ears willing to listen, and bless all of the wine consumed in the process...