Friday, August 28, 2015

In Charge

My feet are cold so I'm sitting here under the covers. The boys are off to school, and the girl is not awake yet, so I can do whatever I want. And right now whatever I want is to sit here in quiet, except for the clock ticking, and the dogs breathing, and the neighbor driving to work. It's a busy day coming, so I'm glad for this snap of peace. I don't like being busy, but it seems unavoidable. I didn't really know what I signed up for those times I pushed out those babies. Homework, piano practice, childhood anxiety, tennis lessons, self-esteem struggles, food issues, social skills, birthday parties, forming, accommodating, and executing other people's schedules, energy, energy, energy.

But joy, too. Joy at the oddest times.

Someone is calling for her dad, as always, so I'd better fall out of bed for the second time this morning and be The Mom. She's wearing her pale blue pajamas with birds, my favorite. She smells so good in the morning.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dear Sarah

I've been looking through old photos tonight because I sat down at the desk to print a family picture for the now-second-grader to take to school tomorrow. Forty-five minutes later I had not printed a picture. Instead I smiled, laughed, cried even. It had been a while since I'd cried.

These are the things I wanted to tell myself (SCREAM to myself) two, three, four years ago:

-You look great. Stop thinking you don't.

-Your house looks great. Stop thinking it doesn't.

-You built yourselves a little life down there in Arizona. Even though you feel alone there, your family is adorable and getting stronger. Don't disregard that growth.

-Your mom is going to die soon. Call her. Call her every damn day.

-You are a fun mom.

-You will be happy.

-You should get your hair done more often.

-Good job telling Sam to grow a beard.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Love-y Dove-y Letter

Dear Boy,

Ten years ago we took that picture of me holding you and you had on that white knit hat, and your squared boy-fingers were wrapped around my ring finger. You had thick, dark hair, which never thinned.

You weren't breathing well when you were born, so nurses hurried you out the door for some clearing of the lungs. Take him, take him, I said. I wasn't about to complain over not being able to hold you those first few minutes. Get him breathing, get him crying, get him pink. I had you, this healthy boy, because I had let go of your not-healthy sister one year before. All those normal things they do when babies come out were welcome. You want to wipe him clean, suction him out, weigh him, measure him? Yes, please. Do it all. He's alive, he's healthy, and he's mine.

I held you.

I felt like a mom again.

Thank you for giving me that gift. Thank you for being the one to bring me out of some grief and self-pity. Over these years you've taught me patience (still working on that one--sorry), endurance, deeeeeeep love, the good kind of pride, worry (a new kind from what I'd felt before), and how to play chess (more than once).

 Thank you for bringing me back to life, my boy. Happy birthday! Oh how I love you. I'm glad I caught you smiling on camera today.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

August Seven

It's a new year around these parts. It's a new year because it is the anniversary of when Sam and I became real-life, go-through-awful-things grownups. Our Lucy baby died in my arms eleven years ago. The axis of my life changed that day, and every August seventh since then I'm not sure what to do.

Through the years we've done lots, and we've done not much to commemorate. We've gotten together with family and friends. We've released balloons into the blue. We've written notes to her, looked at pictures, told her story. One year we didn't say a word about it until after the day had passed. The years we were in Arizona were hard because of the whole being-hundreds-of-miles-away problem. I love to be at her spot in the cemetery, listening to the magpies and watching our other kids play.

But this year we ran away. We will ride roller coasters and boat rides and some bumper cars. I will push my bare feet into sand. I'll watch waves as they reach and crash, reach and crash. I'll make a sand ladybug because I'm good at ladybugs, and I will wish with everything that she could just be here. I'll wish she could've been in the car with us while Sally gave her stuffed bear a squeaky voice. I'll wish she could jump with the boys from bed to bed every time we come back to the hotel room. I'll wish I could catch her eye and quietly laugh about Sam and his nerdy ways.

But my wishes won't come true, so I'll go back to having the hope which drives me forward into each new year. I will hold her again.

I'll bring you a bucket of sunflowers when we get home, my girl.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Making Out with Sam

I feel good about that title.

At sixth grade graduation I was given the: "A Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place" award from my teacher Lynn Hooper, who sounded like a mouse when she sneezed. It impressed me that my teacher could see in me what I hadn't recognized. I like things neat and put away.

But you know, a decade later I became a mom. Another decade has brought Legos, piles of mail, dust, dishes, dirty clothes, Legos, crumbs, two dogs, and Legos. And (a true surprise!) I don't even mind that things can't be all tidy and whatnot most days. But lately I've been bothered by the boxes of random, well, crap that have accumulated over our moves: apartment-apartment-house-house-house. Too much. So I'm going through them. Paper by paper, old cell phone by old cell phone, college binder by college binder.

The other day I was finding places for things and cleaning the bedroom at the same time. I found film from Sam's photography class, negatives of me playing basketball in shiny shorts. I looked through yearbooks and saw what Sam and I wrote each other. I compared what we said when we were together vs. when we were not (ouch). I found notes on lined paper we had written and folded all creative-like ("To open, pull here."). I found a paper box he folded for me, with a teeny tiny note, with these words in red pen:

How was 3rd and 4th? English was or is cool right now because the freshmen take those tests during class and we (sophs) get free time! The only stupid class I'll have today is math. I love being in a good mood! Do you like relish?? -Sam

Pure joy.

I dusted the desk. I picked up bottles of perfume and cologne from a brass tray so I could dust underneath and around. I opened his classic, almost vintage at this point, bottle of Polo Sport. I breathed in. I was taken back to the front seat of his tan Geo Prism. I was taken back to hugging him on the porch. I was taken back to the first time we made out. I opened the bottle of perfume he brought back for me from Europe. I felt sixteen.

I fell in love with High School Sam while in high school, and I fell in love with High School Sam while cleaning there in our bedroom, with items from our life together scattered all over. I fell (again) for the man he has become, for the father he is, for my best friend. Plus he loves me even though I don't squeeze the toothpaste from the end of the tube. And he's still really good at kissing.