I know better than to ignore the call. After all the lost phones I know a strange number could be him. I flip my phone over and keep brushing my teeth. After the fourth call I know I have to answer.
He's frantic because he can't remember where he's parked his car. Again. I reassure him that I'll come help. I'm sick and need to sleep, but I know there's no other choice. Guilt washes over me when I think about how I tried to avoid his call.
I pull up to the store and cross my fingers that he's remembered to wait where I asked him to. When I see he isn't there I scold myself for not changing out of my pajamas.
After an excruciating 45 minutes I finally find him sitting in his car. I tap on the glass and motion for him to roll the window down. He can't figure out how so I walk around to the passenger side and get in. The tears, apologies, and excuses come spilling out. I interrupt him to ask him to come live with me. We've been here before so his refusal isn't a surprise.
I open the door to leave and he reaches for my arm.
"Can I drive you to your car? I don't like you walking alone in the dark."
And just like that I see him. My Daddy. Forever my protector.
Wednesday, June 19, 2019
I recently read a book called ‘The Body Keeps Score Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma’. To call it eye opening would be an understatement. One point that stuck with me is that everyone will have differing definitions of trauma. An experience one person sails through may cause someone else excruciating pain (both physically and metaphorically). I would never deny that I took mama’s death extremely hard, but until I read this book I minimalized the affect mama’s slow decline and death had on me. Those experiences changed me. The feelings of helplessness and anxiety were crippling. They were traumatic.
I am currently experiencing something similar with my father. To protect his privacy I won’t many divulge many details, but the paths my parents were given are similar enough that I’m experiencing many of the same feelings. My reactions are stronger this time because I know what’s coming. I know the pain and struggle involved in this journey. I feel like I’m constantly flinching- eyes closed, body tensed- in anticipation of the unavoidable blow.
The week before our vacation was horrendous. The severity of my dad’s issues came to light and I was suddenly thrust into a situation I didn’t expect nor knew how to handle. I asked questions and read and reached out. I foolishly left for our trip feeling like I had things under control. We hadn’t even been back a full day when things exploded and the boulder settled right back onto my shoulders.
Today I hit the wall. All the emotions I’ve been stuffing down came pouring out. I’m absolutely devastated that my dad has to suffer this way. I’m angry that my heart has broken all over again when I’d finally started to feel like myself. I’m resentful. I’m scared. I’m lonely.
I write to process. It find it helps me see connections and sort out my feelings . I typically leave a writing session with a plan or a feeling of resolution. I don’t have either of those this time. I really wish I could fix this with a list. Check off all the boxes, complete all the tasks and everything would be better. At this point I’d settle for even just a tiny bit easier.
But I can’t. I just can’t.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
I've always been extremely hard on myself. I'm a perfectionist and have very high expectations. If I don't meet my own standards or I break some secret rule I've set then I feel terrible. Terrible meaning my thoughts start spinning into "Why do I bother? or My mom would be so disappointed. or I'm so glad nobody knows this about me." It's a nasty cycle and I know it.
I've talked about my anxiety in the past. I've had lots of different triggers over the years- usually tied to my unreasonable expectations. This time has been no different, but for funsies my anxiety has decided to fixate on a new expectation- my weight.
After the twins I struggled with losing the weight I'd gained during my
Last fall things changed for me. My blood pressure crept higher and higher. I was having constant headaches and felt awful. My doctor and I assumed that it was stress from having lost mama. We realized it was due to the Qysmia after I'd made some changes and it didn't resolve. I was told to quit taking it and warned that my metabolism may slow down. Within a week I'd gained back 5 pounds. Within a month I'd gained another 10. My metabolism didn't slow down it shut down. Here we are 9 months later and I've gained back every bit I'd lost. I've started and stopped several diets and several exercise programs. Just like before the weight isn't budging.
Along with the weight came shame. I feel like I failed. I feel like I let people down. I dread seeing friends because I don't want them to see my weight gain. I have a hard time looking people in the eye because I'm embarrassed. I hate getting dressed because I don't see the point. It doesn't matter what I put on I'm still going to be overweight. There's no hiding fat.
Social Media has been taken over by a self love revolution. I've read the blogs and articles about accepting yourself. I follow plus size influencers in hopes their body positivity will rub off on me. So far it's not working. I'm still ashamed of my weight, but knowing I shouldn't be forces me to take pictures with the kids. I make myself strip down to my bathing suit and swim in the river. I keep the dates with friends. Maybe its a fake it 'til you make it thing? I'm not sure. What I do know is I'm sick of this. I'm sick of making food deals "If I eat this I'll walk for this long". I'm sick of seeing pictures of myself and wanting to cry. I'm sick of reading packages and calorie counts. I'm sick of hearing about things like macros, portion size, and intermittent fasting. Basically I'm sick to death of thinking about food and my size.
So I quit. For this entire summer I'm going to eat what I want and move when I choose to. There will be no weighing- of my food or myself. I may regret this decision in the fall, but for the good of my mental health I have to change something. I know I'm worth more than my weight, but until I truly believe it the voice inside me will still say I'm not enough.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
I was totally fine until the slide show. Chubby babies fading into smiling kids. Poignant music about choosing to dance playing over the sound system. Because we need a reminder that time is flying by. Holy cow, teachers. Why must you do this to us? Just once I’d like to see a slide show set to Vanilla Ice or NKOTB- still reminiscent of time gone by, but instead of sniffling and wiping my eyes I could giggle my way through the pictures.
After getting control of my tears I started thinking. This is a milestone for me too. Come August, for the first time in over a decade, I will be without littles at home. Where’s my slide show? Where’s my certificate? I have completed one entire season of parenting. I deserve a cookie reception.
I frequently get asked what I’m going to do next year. I have no idea and I’m completely ok with that. It doesn’t make sense to immediately jump in to what I was doing before I had my babies. I’m not the same person I was then. I have different interests and have found new strengths. The one thing I do know is that I want whatever I do to benefit others. I won’t be happy wasting my days away.
My plan is to be open and be still. God will show me what’s next. While I’m sad that the baby/little kid season of parenthood is over I’m pretty excited to see what’s next. Maybe when I’ve figured it out I’ll make a slide show. And set it to Eminem.
Sunday, April 28, 2019
This day has been looming for weeks. A black cloud moving towards me from the distance. Just like when waiting for a storm I’ve been frantically preparing. I’m not sure there’s anything that could make it easier. Friday makes one year that you’ve been gone.
My first instinct was to hide away and cocoon, but that doesn’t honor what you meant to me. I don’t want to focus on how much we’ve lost, but instead remember who you were before the dementia and health crisis. I want to smile through tears (which are unavoidable) and spend the day doing something you loved. I’ve decided that I’m going to fill my time with kids. I’m helping to chaperone a fifth grade activity for G and surprising O’s class with our foster kittens. Your entire adult life revolved around children both as a mother and grandmother and as a teacher. Spending my day in a school feels right.
Mama, you made such an impact on everyone you met. I’ve been thinking a lot about your legacy and what you’ve passed on. About how I can live in a way that honors the sacrifices you made. You broke so many cycles and set our family on a path free from what could have been. It matters to me that it be recognized and continued.
If I had to pick one word to describe you it would be giver. I’ve never met someone who gave so freely. Your time and your attention were never truly yours as they were always focused on someone else. You made people feel like they mattered. You remembered small details like where someone grew up or their kids names. You listened. You taught me that listening is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Nothing compares to hearing and remembering someone’s story.
You made everything beautiful. You took pride in making your home a place that provided sanctuary and peace. Flowers by the bedside, comfort foods waiting, a porch full of rocking chairs. You taught me that little things matter. Creating a space that shows your heart matters.
I remember you taking over a classroom mid year. The teacher hadn’t been in good health and the room was a disaster. I came in one afternoon to find you organizing a cabinet. When I asked you why you would bother when it wasn’t your room you replied “I like imagining how this teacher will feel having an organized space waiting. It’s like a fresh start. It doesn’t matter that the mess isn’t mine. What matters is leaving it better than I found it.” You extended this to people as well. You were forever building others up. Sure you had your snarky moments (I learned from the best), but you always made sure people left your company feeling better than when they came. As a new mom this saved me so many times. “You were picked to be his mom”, “I’ve never seen a better mama”, and “you know your babies best” were frequent reminders. I hope I can pass on this peace to Laurel when her time comes. You taught me that joy and kindness are easily passed. Never hesitate if a kind word or deed comes to mind.
Mama, I pray I can live in a way that makes you proud. You mattered. You are remembered. You are loved.
I love you big as the sky,
Sunday, April 14, 2019
Easter will make one year since I’ve seen you alive. You were carried in to the party. Your frame so weak and frail you could no longer walk. I took one look at you and it was if someone punched me. I pressed my back against the wall and tried to not collapse or worse cry.
After several minutes I made my way to your side. I remember hugging you and as you reached for me watching your pants fall to the floor. I scooped them up and tried to cover our embarrassment with a joke about how you were taking your diet a little too far.
How did this happen?
The rest of the day was a blur. I know a plate was made for you and pictures were taken. I remember feeling myself spinning between a hurt so deep I couldn’t breathe and a rage so firey I scared myself.
On the way home I relived the day a thousand times. Why did we all act like your appearance was normal? How did we manage to eat? You were so obviously malnourished. Why weren’t we telling you how much you mattered? That to lose you would be to lose our cornerstone?
How did this happen?
That day was a turning point for me. Up to that time I had vacillated between polite distance- respecting dad’s need for privacy, deferring to his judgment- and being your advocate (albeit an unsuccessful one). That day I became frantic with the need to save you. I hounded dad to get you to a doctor. I scoured the internet for treatments. I cajoled, yelled, encouraged, fumed.
Nothing changed except for you. You became even smaller. You retreated into yourself even further. You talked and cried to yourself. You stopped responding with anything close to appropriateness. We lost you for good two weeks later.
When I look back on that time all I see is my failure. Instead of fighting I should have been holding. Instead of searching I should have been comforting. I made so many wrong choices.
I’m sorry, mama. I’m just so so sorry.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018
Thanksgiving was mama’s favorite holiday. Before she got sick she loved hosting the whole family and would spend hours planning the meal and making her shopping lists. She took such pride in setting a beautiful table and in making sure family traditions were upheld.
Mama’s beloved grandmother loved spiced peaches. She made them from scratch and were a staple at every holiday she hosted. Even after she died mama made sure there was a dish of the peaches at every Thanksgiving table. Hardly anyone ever ate them, but mama didn’t care. They held space for her grandmother and brought her comfort on a day where her grandmother would be sorely missed.
This year I’m including spiced peaches on my table in hopes they bring me comfort just as they did mama. A tiny remembrance for the women who came before me. A symbol of my commitment to hold onto the traditions that they valued and established.