Life Lately

Edie prefers to wear her sister’ underwear over her bathing suit in lieu of clothes. A few pats on the back always accompany her hugs-- a trait her father shares. She tells me to go take a nap when I use a tone that she isn’t a fan of. If I’m about to lose my temper, she reminds me to take a deep breath and then asks me, “Mom, are you happy now?” Yes, I am, because it is impossible to stay unhappy around you. When I ask her if she wants to start using the potty like a big girl, she simply responds with a “No thanks. I’m good.” She talks to herself while playing and is happiest sitting in my lap. She refers to her brother as Knoxy or Bubby. She thinks PENIS is the funniest thing to say at the dinner table. She likes to tell people she meets that she was born in New York.

 

Marlo is currently in that grey area between innocence and an alternative that makes my insides hurt. As such, she's asking such very big questions— questions I don't always have answers to. Mom, why are people mean? Why is that person homeless? Why did someone kill the King? (Referring to Martin Luther King, Jr.) She has a hard time keeping a lid on her emotions. She doesn't walk or run; she skips. She can't decide if she loves or hates or loves her sister. She has anxiety about staying safe. Like me, she can't watch a show or movie without asking 1,001 questions. (Side note: I am now starting to understand why Joe becomes so annoyed when we watch television together.) She sneaks gulps of my iced coffee when I'm not looking. She will ask for one-on-one Mama Time when she needs it. She has very strong opinions on shrimp, mushrooms, and my bangs. All negative, in case you were wondering.

 

Knox is our last and, as a result, my forever baby. He's taking his time doing everything unlike his eager and over-achieving sisters. His favorite activities include farting, cuddling, and vomiting. He prefers sleeping as close to me as possible and loathes naps. He's helped us reach our health deductible before February so he's productive and efficient (and maybe an over achiever after all). He is Edie's baby twin minus the auburn hair. He makes you work for his laughs and smiles.

 

Focusing on these seemingly unimportant details has become my lifeline during a time where I feel as though I am drowning.

 

Drowning while holding a baby. Or three.  

 

I am touched out and overstimulated by the constant noise. I am overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of raising decent humans and underwhelmed by the process of doing so. The worry I feel on a daily basis is all-consuming while the day-to-day logistics of keeping three kids on their different schedules is exhausting. So, I not only want to focus on these seemingly unimportant details; I NEED to focus on them. Otherwise, I fear that I will lose sight of why this job is such a beautiful one and I'll begin to resent it.

 

Life, within the scope of motherhood, feels rather impossible right now. There is only surviving the day and counting the hours until bedtime. There is washing bottles and wiping asses and cleaning up spit-up off of the couch. There are weaning hormones that make you weepy and sad for no reason. There is exhaustion and there is begging your toddler to take a nap because you're tired of being yelled at. There is cleaning up mess after mess and opening forty-seven bags of cheddar bunnies and doing all of the things you said you'd never do. It frequently feels like a tsunami of things that will never get done and, along with that tsunami, comes with it a current of guilt for not doing all of the things and for doing them all well. Motherhood is a repetitive slap in the face even when you see it coming. 

 

 

But as impossible as it all feels right now, it’s a chapter of my life that I never want to lose memory of. I desperately want to remember how loved I am by my kids in the moments I deserve it the least. I want to remember the relief I feel when Joe pulls into the driveway after work because my team mate is home and I can’t do any of this without him. I want to remember the dinners with my girlfriends where we sit around a table, drinking wine, talking about how much we love our kids while also admitting that we're so happy to be away from them. I want to remember how intense all of the feelings that accompany this chapter are and how, in spite of where motherhood falls short, I've never felt more fulfilled or more sure of my place in the world.

 

Which is Marlo, Edie, and Knox' mom. 

 

And it is because of being their mom that during those times when I don’t feel like smiling or cuddling or playing, I do it anyway. Because any other option is unacceptable. When I struggle, I show my kids that life inevitably ebbs and flows and beauty lies within the resilience and graciousness we force ourselves to fight for. When I cry from emotional depletion and exhaustion, I get my shit together, apologize, and I show up. 

 

And showing up should be the only measure I use to judge the kind of mother I am. 

 

Not that time I lost my patience or raised my voice. Not whether I breastfed for a year or weaned after three months or formula fed from day one. Not if I let my kids eat goldfish for dinner. Not if my kid has perfect attendance. Not if my almost three year old still uses a paci because I just don’t want to fight that battle. Not if my house is perfectly styled or if there is a leftover macaroni noodle from dinner three nights ago. Not if I buy all the ugly plastic Fisher-Price shit instead of bougie organic wooden toys. Not the times I stuck my kids in front of the tv (including my infant) because I needed five minutes of not being touched. Not the ten pounds I can't lose. Not the home-cooked vegetable-heavy meals. Not the extracurricular activities. Not the PTA participation. 

 

Just showing up.

 

They're crazy. But they're my crazy. And I'm so thankful.

They're crazy. But they're my crazy. And I'm so thankful.

 

 

 

 

running thoughts in the middle of a final pregnancy

I know what you're thinking.... didn't she say last pregnancy last pregnancy? Yes, I did. But, in my defense, I did think Edie was my last baby. I was convinced our family was complete. At that point in time, I was also unable to see through the thick haziness that is sleep deprivation into a future that might possibly consist of more babies. I was wrong and I'm so glad that I was. 

This time is final final. Final final, as in, Joe is scheduled to make sure of it. In my mind, if I grow them, birth them, and feed them. I figure the least he can do is make sure we don't have any more of them. After all, a healthy marriage is all about balance. And knowing when to shut up and when to pour a glass of wine for your exhausted, stressed out wife. And when to grovel and when to apologize. Mostly, though, it's all about balance. And permanent birth control. 

We find out who the little human growing inside of me is this coming Monday. For some reason, I'm anxious as fuck about the possibility of it being a boy. I thought I really wanted a boy but now I'm not so sure that I'll be a good boy mom. The unknown is scary and the known feels like a safer bet. Plus, being a feisty broad gives me a one-up in raising feisty little broads. But raising a boy? How in the actual fuck am I supposed to do that when I have no idea how to be a boy? (It should be noted that Joe is hoping for another girl because boys scare the shit out of him, too.) 

My hair gets lighter during pregnancy. It's the weirdest damn thing. 

My boobs have tripled in size this pregnancy and it is supremely awesome. With Edie, they didn't get this big until the last few weeks or so which didn't bother me as much as it sucked for Joe. At that time, I was at the stage in pregnancy where I resented the shit out of his potent fertility for making me so miserably pregnant (rationale isn't a strong suit of mine while waddling and hormonal) that there wasn't a chance in hell I was letting him even remotely close enough to me to touch them. This time... well... let's just say he's enjoying the time when I'm not blaming him, and him entirely, for the mutant spawn I'm incubating.

For some (likely hormonally driven) reason, I thought white maternity jeans would be a good idea. They were not. 

Do you find it as unfortunate as I do that I don't really care for sweets while pregnant? It's like some cruel joke the universe has decided to play on me. "Here, mere mortal, thou shall crave this kale! Crave this green juice! Crave another avocado!" How about fuck you, Universe

My desire to nest has been fierce this pregnancy. I didn't really have it with the girls but this baby is giving me all the desire to create a new level of cozy in my home and plant all the flowers in all of the clay pots I can get my hands on. I wonder if my pre-baby self is tired of shaking her head in disgust yet?

Who's looking forward to being eight months pregnant during a southern humid summer while squeezing her huge ass into a spandex torture device?!?! ......CRICKETS. 

 

5 things from the week

HI THERE!

Remember me?

Since I've been gone, only a few minor things have gone down: I turned 30 (whoopdeedo), Joe and I celebrated five years of marriage (which feels like one year and fifty, simultaneously), I began the nine month process of growing another human (yes, another), and I enrolled my oldest baby into kindergarten (...what the fuck, right?). As you can see, we've been busy. This week, I would like to address the growing another human part.

 

1. No matter how many times I've seen or bought little baby things, the first purchase for a new baby never stops being special. Kimono tops and ribbed leggings will always elicit a reaction that almost always consists of a squeal from a much higher octave, warm fuzzy feelings, and sheer disbelief that another tiny human will be joining our family. No matter how trying pregnancy can often feel, it never loses its many shades of magic. 

2. There is nothing like the prospect of a new baby to light a fire under the ass of one's Home Projects List. That fire is rather hot. We decided that it was a good time to paint the exterior of our home, completely gut the back yard, install all new interior doors, and (potentially) gut and re-do both bathrooms. I wouldn't recommend this level of crazy to a family growing another human because it's... stressful. And messy. However, the thought of fresh white bathroom tile, toilets that don't leak, and doors that don't run the risk of locking you inside of your toddler's bedroom while said toddler is not actually in the room with you is overshadowing any rational reasoning I may typically possess. 

3. As people have found out that I'm pregnant, I've gotten asked a surprising amount of times (by strangers) if this baby was planned. First off, whether or not Joe and I planned this pregnancy or if we are simply trusting a bigger picture for our family-- one that we may not even be able to wrap our head around at the moment-- is a moot point. Maybe we were tracking my ovulation and I was propping my feet up against a wall afterwards or maybe we simply got hammered one night and a condom felt like too much work in the moment. Secondly, when did it become acceptable to ask such probing questions about one's family planning? Since when did being intrusive cease being considered rude? Furthermore, why does one feel entitled to even ask a person whom they know so little about such very personal questions? Lastly, it isn't any of your fucking business. Learn some manners. 

4. Every pregnancy is different. I know this. I repeated this affirmation to myself while pregnant with Edie as to not place unnecessary expectations on her while she was in the womb. (I am a devoted advocate of respecting my children' individuality and, furthermore, believe that placing expectations on our children should be reserved for their teenage years, ya know?! That way it does the most damage.) The only problem is that my pregnancies with the girls were absolutely identical in terms of symptoms-- their intensity, frequency, and when they stopped-- and how my body handled pregnancy hormones and the extra estrogen. This, in turn, made it all too easy to make assumptions about how this pregnancy would truck along. I mean, how different could it possibly be?! I never should've assumed. Ever. I even knew better. And, as punishment, I'm now incubating a goddamned rogue agent. This baby gives zero fucks about how I've run this show the prior two times I've done it and its' relentless pursuit of proving the consequences of false assumption has been brutal. 

5. I'm fairly stoked about having a fall baby. The thought of hibernating in adult diapers and stretchy pants with five day hair post-birth versus being forced into a spandex torture device known as a bathing suit while I leak from places one should never leak from feels like a very kind gift courtesy of my ovaries and Joe's sperm. Thanks, y'all.  

 

to be continued...

 

I'm not sure what exactly spurred these feelings. My guess is that it is a combination of turning thirty in less than a month, Mo turning five and starting kindergarten this year, and, of course, the godforsaken election (now-presidency) from hell. I may not be sure of what planted the seed but it became far too obvious to not do something about it.

 

 

 I want to focus on those two up there and date my husband. To cook without documenting it for people not sharing the meal with me. To play at the park and go on adventures with my babies and leave my fucking phone at home. To use my real camera because I maintain a deep love for photography versus likes. To write without sharing what has been published because writing has always been for me and will continue to always be for me. To savor this painfully short season of life before I watch Mo march onto a big yellow school bus every morning while being forced to trust other people to love and care for her the way I do.  To suss out this life with the people I love without sharing it with strangers. 

 

It's heavy shit and, for me, personally, I want to do the heavy lifting without broadcasting the weight of the load.

 

So, I am taking an indefinite social media hiatus. I'll likely continue to write here in this space because writing is something I find myself unable to NOT do. It's my free, take-no-shit therapist and I'm able to balance writing with the rest of life. But sharing all of life's moments in a tiny square on a social media app? My only goal in life is to not be an asshole and social media makes me feel like an asshole. I so easily become distracted and get sucked into the black hole of my explore page. I find myself wasting an embarrassing amount of time or, even worse, completely disengaged from my kids. 

 

As I approach this new decade, a decade I've always looked so forward to entering, the only thing I want to do with this time is be as wholly good as I can be for the near and dear people I love. Eliminating the distractions-- the things and people which don't always bring out the best version of myself-- seems like the easiest place to start. 

 

See ya' when I see ya', folks.

 x C x

farewell, sir.

Last night, Barack Hussein Obama II told the people of this great country that serving as our president has been the greatest honor of his lifetime and I truly believe him.

But I can't help but feel that the real honor actually belongs to us.

It has been an honor to watch this family for the last eight years as they stood beside one another while standing behind ALL of us. Because of this man and his exemplary level of leadership, a new precedent in politics was forged for our country-- one deeply rooted in the plight of integrity, of inclusivity, and of human decency. One does not have to be in favor of his particular brand of politics to acknowledge and respect the humanity that this man lives, breathes, and so deeply believes is worth fighting for. 

This morning, a friend who will, too, mourn the end of Obama's tenure, sent me Dan Rather's response to the farewell address and I wanted to post it in its' entirety. 

 

He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.
- Hamlet
Whatever you think of the presidency of Barack Obama, and I know there are many who think of him as one of our greatest presidents and others with a distinctly differing opinion, I think we can all safely say he was unlike any man who has ever occupied the office of President of the United States. And I cannot imagine anyone quite like him in the future.
Tonight we saw a man of dignity, chastened by the reality of Washington and speaking in the shadows of a presidential election that leaves his legacy deeply threatened and seems to still be spiraling into uncharted territory. This was not the young Senator who bounded upon the world stage with unbridled optimism in a belief we could easily overcome all that divides us. This was a man humbled by experience, but still summoning a deep faith in the basic strength of our democratic traditions. He spoke of the accomplishments of which he was most proud, but he then shifted into a remarkable stretch where he highlighted all the challenges ahead. He almost sounded like a candidate for office, undoubtedly frustrated by the forces he felt were arrayed against him.
He spoke deeply about race, the undercurrent that coursed beneath his presidency as it has through all of American history. He spoke sympathetically of white Americans who feel worried and marginalized, but he then turned forcibly to a sense of all the racial progress left to be done and an inclusive outreach to immigrants. It was one America, perhaps without some of the naivete of his famed speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention. It seems to me that this will be his message going forward, combatting what he called the "great sorting" of self-isolation according to cultural, region, religious, and ethnic lines.
One of his biggest applause line was that "science and reason matter." He spoke passionately about his worry for a nation that increasingly assigns the notions of "facts" to partisan battle. And his section on climate change, the shamefully ignored issue of the last election, was particularly strong. It was a section that resonated with me personally, a belief that science and reason must be the path forward for our nation to thrive and prosper. It echoed a quote I just saw from Thomas Jefferson: "In a republican nation whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance."
It is tempting to see a Farewell Address as, well, a farewell. But I got the sense watching President Obama tonight that this will not be the last we will see of him commanding a public stage. His youth, the state of the nation and the world, his unique background and qualifications will likely make him a presence in our national discourse for a long time to come.
When President George Washington issued his Farewell Address, setting the precedent echoed tonight, he almost literally rode off into the sunset. And for most of American history former presidents largely retired from an actively political public life. There have been many notable exceptions - John Quincy Adams and Teddy Roosevelt - just to name a few. But new technologies for communication and the seemingly sudden shift in the direction of our charted course as a nation will make the destiny of this former president likely different from all that have preceded him.
It is striking to see this man, who rode into the White House under the banner of Hope, age under the burdens of the office in the years since. As we mark this moment, where we confront a seeming crisis of conscience in our democratic experiment, it's important to remember the dire storm clouds of global financial doom that greeted President Obama eight years ago.
How will history judge this man and his tenure is a question none of us can fully answer. It depends not only what has happened but on what has yet to occur. And I suspect President Obama will have a hand, a strong hand, in shaping this destiny.