We’ve lived in this house since May of 2013. We aren’t even close to being completely organized. Our basement is a mess of boxes and garbage bags full of out of season clothing and stuffed animals Eliana has outgrown. If we’re missing anything from our last move (the fifth in four years), we wouldn’t know it.
Our old landlord called yesterday to let us know we had left a box behind and was kind enough to meet The Husband to hand it off yesterday. Inside, we found memories we didn’t realize were missing.
There’s one of me at 21. The Boyfriend that eventually became The Husband had whisked me away for our first romantic weekend getaway to Mackinac Island. Truth? Yes, it was a weave and no, he didn’t know it yet. When the truth eventually came out, he was visibly relieved. Turns out the tracks connecting the weave to my scalp had left a lot of unanswered questions in those wild with abandon moments during which he ran his fingers through my hair.
She was so tiny when she was born. Long little limbs. The longest fingers and toes I have ever seen on a newborn attached to the daintiest pudge-free baby feet ever to have existed. She was six pounds and 21 inches with a perfectly round head that made everyone who saw her assume she was a c-section (she wasn’t).
I remember looking at this picture when I first saw the proof. It took a minute to realize that my baby’s ankle was positioned just above my arm and her toes stretched far below.
“We’ve given birth to a monkey, I think.”
And the nickname stuck.
My mother’s parents were killed in a car accident on their way back from a trip to Mexico when I was 10-months-old. My grandfather had been a native of Guadalajara (which, I guess, explains my hair), and my grandmother had been American-born but raised, for part of her childhood, in northern Mexico. My mother was supposed to have gone on that trip with her parents but had decided at the last minute to stay home. I was just baby; too young to leave with family.
At 19, my mother buried her parents.
I lived in my paternal grandparents’ home in Detroit for the first three years of my life with my own mother and father. My mom likes to tell the stories like how my Guelo was feeding me beans and rice at six-months-old and how I called my Guela “Mom” and called my mother “Dorothy.” I remember going to Bingo with Guela and I remember translating an entire conversation between my grandmother and a postal worker dropping off a package while home alone with her one afternoon.
My grandmother died when I was six, leaving my sisters and me with one grandparent. He was just over five-feet-tall and was a big, round belly. In my entire memory, he is retired, always balding, with sharp, hazel-green eyes. His voice is gruff, his English choppy and so heavily accented it’s impossible to understand. He commands respect and once drove an old station wagon and had a dog he called Come Cuando Hay which literally means “Eats When There Is.” Every Sunday we ate dinner at Tia and Tio’s house and every Sunday, Guelo left with a bag of bones and meat scraps and leftover beans and arroz. That’s when Come Cuando Hay could eat because there was.
Guelo called us his cabronas. His little assholes. To me, that’s just proof that anything in Spanish can be made into a term of endearment if said with love and a smile.
Andale, mis hermosas cabronitas.
Come on over here, my beautiful little assholes.
And there it was.
Love and a smile.
It’s impossible to always put yourself first…
but poisonous to always put yourself last.
Those words are by my friend, Jenni Chiu. I found them tonight and I’m sharing them with you now, partly because they need to be shared.
Mostly because I needed the reminder myself.
I’m in a weird place right now. I’m not even sure of the words to use to describe it, which doesn’t happen very often. All I know is I keep hoping that tomorrow the veil I can’t shake will have lifted. I want to see the sun again and feel it on my face.
I want to stop being the reason The Husband worries.
I want to stop being tired all the time and remember what it feels like to revel in my once-regular workout routine because I know it makes me feel good.
What I don’t want is for Christmas to be a giant farce wrapped in pretty paper, because right now, that’s what it’s turning out to be. The Christmas cards went out. The gifts are under the tree. Santa’s ready. I know Christmas morning will be magical for her. Her magic is my own. But I want my own groove back.
When I wake up to find my daughter quietly playing in her room, her breakfast dishes in the sink, and the opened cereal box on the kitchen counter because she knows Mama needed sleep, I vow to sleep like normal people do and wake (like normal people do) with (or even before) my child. I’ll start tomorrow. Then I’ll start the next day. And then it’s 3:30 a.m. and I’ve accomplished nothing. I climb into bed, drawing myself close to the warmth of my husband’s body, and fall asleep before I can worry about everything I still have left to do.
She asked for waffles the other day. I made them for lunch. But I know it’s not the same.
I’m going to be 36 soon. The new year is almost upon us. There’s a promise in every tomorrow. I know all of these things. I just don’t feel them right now. Maybe it’s something in the water. Or maybe I’m seeing so many friends writing about how they are pulling themselves through this holiday season just barely because so many of my friends are writers now and this is just how we process. I’m not sure. What I do know is I see myself in their words. Maybe you see yourself in mine.
We’re mothers. We’re women. We’re tired but don’t want to be.
We’re doing what needs to be done for others. We’re wishing we didn’t feel guilty for even considering that we must also do what we want for ourselves.
We push ourselves relentlessly because we’ve learned to balance the weight of the world on our shoulders and don’t know how to deal with the sense of lightness that comes when anyone else tries to lift it because that is what we would do for those that we love. The problem is that we don’t know how to handle taking the time we need for ourselves to just breathe and do for ourselves before we find ourselves running on empty.
The funny thing about blogging everyday vs. blogging when Something Big Brewed Itself Into a Blog Post is that the second version requires far less thought. Maybe I dropped 1,200 words in 30 minutes on whatever soapbox I had climbed on that particular day, but they were 1,200 coherent and dedicated words that freed my brain to concentrate on Everything Else for an extended period of time. Since my work responsibilities have increased I’ve had a few months where blogging once a week was an accomplishment, but that also meant that I only thought about my blog four times in 30 days.
I may have missed some of the fun stuff, but it was also liberating as hell to not be mentally married to Hitting Publish every day.
Because of NaBloPoMo I’m back on the daily What Do I Write About Today bandwagon and I’ll be honest…I like it just about as much as I hate it. I’m capturing bits and pieces of myself on the blog like I used to but I’m also missing out on other things…like sleep. I haven’t been able to stick to my exercise routine for the life of me, either. And I apologize if you happen to think I have time to talk on the phone. That number is for texting only, people. Who has time to talk???
There’s the job and homeschooling and extra-curricular activities and then sometimes The Husband wants to have sex and instead I’m waving him off because #NaBloPoMo means 30 days of blogging and I Just Need to Link This Post Up Here and Tweet that there and then do a rain dance to increase my chance of comments over here… And before you know it I’m eyes glazed over on Pinterest (because all portals of the Internet lead to Pinterest) and he’s asleep and I owe him a lot of sex right now…
You guys? What’s the hashtag for December? Because if it’s #NaBloBlowMo, he may just forgive me for November.
Never plan a surprise party without making sure you’ve taken your Adderall first. Or do it, and make sure you tweet, Facebook, and instagram the hell out of that bitch because it’s all blog post fodder and you know you won’t remember any of it otherwise.
The Husband turned 40 last week and I dropped the ball big time on party planning. He picked me up from the airport from my Blogher13 trip the day before his birthday and I didn’t realize I was probably going to have to make up for the lack of Big Birthday Gifty-ness with a blowjob or two until long after he fell asleep that night. The I Heart Chicago sweatshirt I got him wasn’t getting me off the hook — not for a milestone birthday. So I figured I’d redeem myself by using my Ninja with ADHD Skills to plan a surprise birthday party for him, instead.
I was going to Make This Happen and it was Going to be Epic. And by Epic, I mean a full menu that eventually got scaled back to pizza, two-liters of pop, bags of chips, and cupcakes from a box. A far cry from our normal paleo plan, but when shit starts to hit the fan, the Kale in Coconut Oil Sauteed with Asapragus is the easiest thing to cut from the list in the name of sanity and reason.
The Husband’s parents arrived a few days ago for a 10-day visit and I figured I’d be sneaky and not let them in on the Big Secret until the last minute. There was bound to be conversation bounced around about the party when he wasn’t around and Eliana was, I figured, and Eliana is six and her idea of not letting the cat out of the bag is by telling the cat that he’s Totally Just Imagining There’s a Bag to Begin With. Not very subtle, I’m afraid, which is why she is officially grounded from ever playing poker.
So I continued with my Super Secret Plans with a trusted friend who’s husband was going to serve as The Distractor on the party day. The plan was simple:
- Choose the party date and time
- Invite the guests
- Get The Husband out of the house
- Alert The Inlaws after the coast is clear
- Revel in the glory of success
That was the plan. Here’s what actually happened.
Choose Party Date and Time
I scheduled the party for Thursday night and got the word out. Then I learned that I was supposed to have had it Friday because my friend’s husband was working until 6 p.m. on Thursday. I figured this out on Wednesday.
Invite the Guests
That happened easy enough. Except now I had to find a new Distraction. Let’s ignore the fact that I forgot to invite one family altogether. It’s okay. They don’t know what the internet is.
Get The Husband Out of the House
My new Distraction became my Father in Law. But instead of getting The Husband out of the house, he got him into the garage to work on the riding mower with the blown engine. Things kinda went to hell in a hand basket pretty fast from here.
Alert the Inlaws When the Coast is Clear
Do I really have to spell this one out? I did manage to slip The Mother-in-law a handwritten note spilling the beans while she watched TV with my kid, but the coast was fucking foggy and clear was a forgotten dream. I thought All Was Saved when the grease-covered guys walked into the kitchen to grab something to eat before heading out to look for new motors, but that was a short-lived little ray of sunshine, my friends.
My phone told me I had a text message as The Husband was reaching for his keys. It was one of his friends telling me he was parking his car at the neighbor’s place and heading over. This was obviously a major hiccup. He was three hours early and lives over an hour away, so I said fuck it and told The Husband the text was from the neighbor telling us she had homemade jam for him to pick up, thinking The Husband could laugh at the surprise being blown but still look like a genius for my mad planning skills.
Except The Husband “forgot” and blew past the neighbors place, leaving his friend wondering what the hell was happening. That’s when I threw up the white flag of defeat, called The Husband, and told him to get his ass back to the neighbors because the jam was actually his friend and that he had better fucking pretend to be surprised when he got back here to see the party he wasn’t supposed to know about in full swing because THAT’S WHAT GOOD HUSBANDS DO.
Revel in the Glory of Success
Funny, right? Because after The Husband and The Father-in-Law picked up the early party guest and headed back out to go to Manly Things, The Mother-in-law went outside to get the party snacks and drinks we had bought and hidden in the back of my truck. Which The Husband had taken without telling me.
I did what anyone would do in that situation: I texted his friend to tell him The Husband needed to come home NOW because he had hijacked my shit.
But wait…it gets better.
They guys figured they’d give up on trying to leave the premises again. I called for pizza, which we never get for us because of our gluten free and paleo diet, and sent The Husband and crew off to pick it up about 30 minutes before the guests were to arrive. The Husband texted me just as cars started making their way up our driveway to ask me why the pizza place didn’t have my order.
Because I forgot to take my Adderall today and called the store 3 hours away from our house.
This is when I told the laughing Mother-in-law that there’s a reason I write non-fiction.
The Husband placed an order for four pizzas and two order of bread-sticks totaling $65 because apparently pizza is quite the commodity up here in northern Maine. He triumphantly returned with the World’s Most Expensive cardboard boxes Not Lined in Gold and a merry time was had by all.
That’s when I sat back, smug and relaxed, mentally transcribing the day’s events for the blog post that just wrote itself.