Brave Little Heart

Sitting cross-legged in my bed tonight, I’m staring at my computer screen while my 7 year old is sleeps right next to me.  This last week he’s had trouble sleeping in his own bed, which is on the other side of our apartment.  I’m not sure what’s causing his dis-ease, I just know I’m doing my best to help him find peaceful rest and security.  If I had to guess, I’d say there are two things on his mind:

  1. A scary cartoon he watched without permission last week.  This I take full responsibility for, I was distracted and didn’t realize he had floated from something authorized to something that might frighten him.
  2. Loneliness.  He was an only child for 6 years before Kid 2 came along, and it’s tough being the Big Brother.  There are times he feels (and is) brushed aside a bit because baby screams are priority.  He misses his time with his Daddy and me.  Exacerbating this, his room is clear on the other side of the apartment from ours, so I’d imagine it feels a little uncomfortable for him to make the long trek over there, be tucked in and kissed goodnight, and then watch the rest of the family go back to the other side of the living space.

I am not an expert Mommy.  I do not always get it right. In fact, I screw up on the daily.  It does not feel good, but I do the best I can to keep moving forward. To be totally honest most of the time I feel like a trapeze artist who is working without a net.  My parents didn’t teach me how to parent (which is a blog series for another day).  Basically what I say, how I act, what I’m aware of, it’s all guesswork.  Every bit of it of every decision I make comes down to equal parts research (thanks, internet and Mom Bloggers), what I imagine I would want or need emotionally if I were in the situation as a 7 year old, and blindly attempting to calculate the most logical answer to whatever scenario we are currently knee-deep in.

All of that said, I do have compassion in spades and with a sensitive child like mine, it’s basically my super power.  In this tender moment between my son and I, a question formed in my mind:  What is courage?

The word courage brings to mind many different images, from soldiers fighting in battle, to patients who battle diseases like cancer, all the way to Mel Gibson’s blue-painted face in the movie Braveheart, in which he portrayed the great warrior and freedom fighter William Wallace, who was willing to give his life for his ideals and his people.

What if courage manifests in other ways?  I mean, what does courage look like to a 7 year old?  Well, for a child this age, courage might look something like jumping off the monkey bars, or standing up to a friend who is being a bully.  Maybe, though courage is having the guts to verbalize fear and ask for help when you can’t sleep and you’ve tried thinking positive thoughts and now you really don’t know what to do.  Maybe courage is walking out of the room and risking chastisement in order to escape a yucky situation.

Yep, I think for my boy to pour out his heart to us and then ask to not be left alone tonight took some serious guts.  I mean, let’s be honest, many of us adults have trouble doing this!  I’m proud of him for speaking up.

So on nights like tonight, when it’s been a long day and we all just want rest and the dishes can wait because my hip is hurting and I still have an article to write, when my husband texts me from the living room to say “he is out of bed again and refusing to go back”, I have to get this right.  I have to match this courage with benevolence.

This consideration – the idea that kids are people, too – is something I think about fairly often in my job as Mommy, mainly because it’s not something I was given as a child.  On one hand, I don’t want my son to think he’s too delicate to face minor challenges.  On the other hand, I refuse to invalidate his feelings just because he’s 7.  They’re his feelings, and they are real to him.

I walk quietly into the living room, around the sleeping baby, and take my oldest boy’s hand.  We walk to his bed, where I plop down cross-legged and begin to investigate (as moms do).  He is in tears before I can ask the first question, so I change tactics and just hold him for a while.  A few moments later, I try again.  He says he’s not sure what’s wrong, but he doesn’t want to sleep by himself tonight.  “That’s ok”, I say without hesitation, “you don’t have to”.  I continue to speak life to his little spirit, saying what I believe are helpful statements like, “it’s alright to feel afraid” and “you are safe here”.  I don’t know if this is right, but I’m trying my best, against the loud sighs coming from my husband, who has been working to keep his annoyance hidden while we get this sorted out.

((Side note: My husband is not a man who thinks guys have to be “macho”.  Thank goodness, he doesn’t say things like “boys don’t cry”.  He is, however, a man who works very long hours at a demanding job and greatly values his rest time, so the quicker this gets resolved, the better.))

We arrive at the bed that my son and I will now share this evening, him promptly crawling beneath the covers and me grappling with the idea of being kicked, punched, and snored at all night.  I know this is right, I tell my husband.  I know that when I was a child and I was afraid, all I wanted was for someone to tell me I was safe.  I wanted someone to say “you don’t have to be alone”, someone to validate my feelings and not force me to lie in bed, terrified of whatever thought was tormenting me at the time.  Being a kid is tough enough without having your protectors leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable.

When my son thinks back over his life, and when he remembers our relationship and what kind of mom I was, so much of it won’t matter.  It won’t matter what we had for dinner tonight, but it will matter that I cooked and we all sat at the table and talked and laughed and connected.  It won’t matter what kind of car I drove, as much as it will matter that I was there every afternoon after school, happy to see him.  It won’t matter one bit that this apartment is not always clean and sometimes (ok, at ALL times) there are clothes and toys strewn about, but it will matter that this place felt like home to him.  It will matter that he felt safe here. It will matter that he had (and for as long as I’m living, he will have) a place he can go and just shake the world off.  A place where he doesn’t have to live up to anything, he never needs to feel embarrassed, a place where he’s not pressured to fit into someone else’s idea of who he should be or what he should think or feel.  It will matter that he didn’t have to question whether he was part of our tribe.

Deep in the depths of my soul, I want that.  As a mother, it is what I strive for above anything else.

Again, I ask: What is courage?  Courage is the soldier, the cancer patient, and William Wallace.  Yes, all those people are brave, possibly beyond measure.  But in MY life, in MY circumstance, what is courage?  For a mom like me, courage is the willingness to give my boy what his soul thirsts for, even if no one else understands it.  Courage is parenting him and him only, without stopping to think about what other moms (or even my own) might think.  Courage is stepping away from traditional beliefs and from how I was raised in order to do it better, in order to raise a whole individual, fully functional and free from emotional baggage.

So tonight, clacking away at my old laptop with my firstborn snoring next to me, I rejoice in this budding courage – his and mine – and in the knowing that this time, I got it right.

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My Gentle Warrior
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Confessions 1

Bless me, Father

For I have sinned

I have loved and lost and lusted

I have used and conned and manipulated

Hearts have been crushed in my grasp

Spirits suspended in mid air

Unable to move on, unsure

I didn’t want them; I didn’t want to let them go.

In all these years so many of them

I have let inside my dreams, let them influence me,

Change who I am fundamentally,

No they didn’t have me physically but which is worse?

Psychically I was theirs.

His. His. His. His. His.

I enjoyed most of it, I liked

The attention, raw attraction, the bond

Tolerated abuse, just to be the muse.

All that time I never knew, no one told me

I was giving away pieces of myself

Each heart exploding left a scar on mine

Fragments of me, slices of them, intertwined

I’m not whole, not myself, not pristine

Dirty, damaged, fractured again and again and then – sewn together

A mosaic of hearts that beat in rhythm

Souls that spoke the same language as mine

The things they taught me and the things only we know

That’s what I am made of, and I confess it, but

What can I do, how can I come clean

What kind of penance can I serve to atone, when

I’m not sorry?

1:15

An abandoned field

Wildflowers, weeds, and you

In blue.

A beautiful old bridge

Sunshine, cool breeze, and me

We’ll see.

A forgotten dirt road

Out of sight, warm daylight,

You might.

And we walked

And we laughed

And we talked

Carefully

Anxiously

Every breath a question

Unanswered, understood.

***

An abandoned field

Wildflowers, weeds, and you

In blue.

 

 

Just Another Storm

All that panicking over Hurricane Irma was for nothing, folks.  We have lots of water to drink, which won’t be a problem, and BOY am I glad we didn’t buy anything else in bulk.  Thankfully we never even lost power.  That said, being stuck inside with hubs and kids for a couple of days, I was probably more in danger of losing my sanity.

Menu:  Vegan-ize all the things!  After my second bout of stomach flu in about a month (I know, right?!) I decided to go into “Immunity Improvement Mode” and eat all the fruits and veggies I could get my hands on.  I generally feel better when I cut out meat, which I do a few times per year, sometimes for weeks and sometimes as longs as 6 months.  Normally I do it as a cleanse or as a way to raise my energy and vibration.  Try it, it works!  Even the mood is lifted, which I think has something to do with the hormones in our food and the emotions of the animals before and during their slaughter.  I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m basically the Mister Wizard of nurition.  Sha-zam!  [All of that said, I’m really not promoting one way of eating or lifestyle over another and I don’t call myself vegan at any time because it’s offensive to people who actually live it 100%.]

Music:  Tchaikovsky!  Particularly the Sleeping Beauty Ballet.  If you’ve never heard or seen it, that’s basically a crime against humanity and your parent and/or guardian should be punished.  Allow me to rectify this situation:

Also, I learned this week that the song in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, when Aurora is singing in the woods, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” is from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet.  Isn’t that cool?  Yes it is.

Travel:  The Great Wall of China has just been added to the list.  As I type this, though, I’m reminded how badly I’d like to go and see Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across parts of Ireland and England and has great historical significance as well.  It’s also the wall seen in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  Hmm.  Which Wall?  I guess it depends on where Kevin Costner is at the time?

 

Gym Rat:  I took a break this week and did mostly yoga and sleep. It was glorious.

Soul: With Hurricane Irma being in the forefront of everyone’s minds this week, I wondered (out loud) whether in times of crisis people are more or less in tune with each others needs.  I think both are true. Some of us are natural caregivers, so when disaster strikes we are even more empathic than usual.  Others of us are selfish, and panic amplifies that selfishness to a degree that makes it difficult for us to even see other people.  Just my opinion, though.

Dreams:  Nothing I’d like to share this week.

Photographing:  Also nothing to share.  (What? We were prepping for a storm!)

Movies and TV:  Law and Order: SVU and all the marathons on all the channels.  What can I say? I love it.

Library:  Aside from GQ magazine, not much.  The current issue has an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh and a pretty good profile on Robert Pattinson.  Both of them are pretty talented and I enjoyed reading.

Tech: Two new apps this week: Stone, which is fascinating and wonderful and very, very useful if you are into and own a lot of gemstones (which I do).  Stone is a user-friendly guide to gemstones, with photos, historical factoids, and what each gem can be used for.  The other is Golden Thread Tarot.  It’s a fun digital tarot deck that does much more than just give general readings.  It explains each card and even allows the user to log and journal about cards and readings.  I don’t know anything about tarot, and I like being able to choose emotions to go with my daily card, like “hope” or “frustration” and knowing I can later search for cards or readings by emotion.

resentment

i don’t know

what to do || how to move || when to breathe

and i’m angry

that you don’t see

the truth of me

 

anymore

 

 

 

 

 

 

hidden.

romantic

tantric

sycophantic

affliction

restriction

constriction

mystic

artistic

voyeristic

appeal

reveal

surreal

fantasize

mesmerize

paralyze

our secret place

your embrace

touch my face

just in case

it’s a dream

 

Oh, Irma

If my mother 

Had her druthers

I would be 

In Tennessee 

By now. 

Instead 

In my head

I’m on the beach

Just out of reach

Of it all.

Holding On vs. Letting Go

We broke up because of bread.  That’s what he’ll say.  Stupid, seedy, sandwich bread.  He went to the store, at 9:15 at night no less, to get some grocery items for me and he got the wrong bread and now we’re getting divorced.  Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s the truth, and at the same time it’s nowhere near the whole truth.  So what’s the rest of the story?

To oversimplify, he doesn’t pay attention –  to me, to the things I like, to what I eat, to whether I’m happy or sad or indifferent.  He doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t notice.  Part of that lazy unknowing is bringing home the wrong bread and then, in the morning when I’m hungry and emotional and just want a piece of toast but I can’t have it because it’s not the right thing, he says helpful things like, “Oh, so I’m the asshole now? I got your bread.”

Of course, this story is biased towards my feelings, since I’m the author.  Is it reasonable to get so upset over being “forced” to eat the “wrong” bread?  Probably not.  Honestly, though, my hurt goes deeper than the fact that 9 times out of ten he brings the wrong grocery items home.

The bread fiasco is just one in a string of unfortunate events, each of them hurtful to me.  Each time it happens, instead of apologizing or trying to understand what is upsetting to me, he defends himself and points out my flaws.  It’s not exactly a recipe for productive conversation or progress.

Am I saying I’m blameless and my husband never gets hurt?  Not at all.  However I don’t believe he gets hurt very often, which is perhaps a benefit of being so faintly invested.  From my perspective, he has it easy.  He works all day.  He doesn’t contribute to the household in any way aside from that.  I cook the meals, clean, pay the bills, take care of school things and appointments, do all the laundry and homework, plan all the vacations and pack us for them, and so on.

I’m not a quitter.  I am, however, beginning to wonder at what point do I cut my losses?  At what point am I allowed (by society, by my parents, by my own conscience) to move towards my own healing and happiness?

We don’t have the same goals (or if we do, he doesn’t vocalize them).  I have been working on my own for a year to clean up our credit.  The most I can get out of him is a “that’s great babe” when I talk to him about it, but forget about active participation.  I’ve been hoping to purchase a home and I have spoken with mortgage lenders and realtors and he doesn’t get involved in it or even ask questions.  I plan an annual Disney trip and this year I’ve asked for help from a friend because it’s too stressful and involved for me to do on my own.  And I know that when the time comes, he will go and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and never say thank you, and never have helped with the decision making, and just thinking about this makes me cry.  I’m crying.

I want a life partner.  Someone who has dreams, someone who has a plan, someone who cherishes me.  What I don’t want is to have to drag someone along. Every day that goes by I worry I am wasting time with someone who thinks that just working is enough.  Who thinks that he shouldn’t have to hug me or buy flowers or plan date nights because he works and because I’m living off his money.  (I’ll admit that part is terrifying.  How will I live?  My job pays peanuts.)  By the same token, I’m very careful with the money and budget because I respect all that he does to earn it.  I don’t take that responsibility lightly.  A few days ago I asked if he might help me with it, at least be involved in it, and his response was that if I keep complaining about it he’ll just do it.  He’ll take over.  I don’t want him to control it, number one because he’s not great with saving and number two because I like doing it.  I honestly do.  I just need help.  I need a husband.

He is a kind person.  He’s a nice dad.  I don’t know if I’d say he’s a good dad, because he doesn’t really do things with the kids unless I make him.  Our son deserves to go fishing and hiking and to learn about being a guy, and there are things that as much as it chafes me, I cannot teach him.  But my husband isn’t teaching him either.  Again, I cry, but this time it’s hot angry tears.  My sons both deserve effort.

Maybe he’s depressed.  He has mentioned it a few times, and I’ve encouraged him to get counseling and even try medication if that’s what he thinks will help.  Has he taken any steps in that direction? No.

We’ve both made mistakes.  I planned a hypothetical lunch about 8 years ago with a guy who is a friend from high school but he saw it as me being shady.  Last Spring I found nudes on his phone of girls (plural) who aren’t me and spent a few days swallowing pieces of my heart and trying to figure out if anything I thought was real had ever truly existed.  He had an explanation. It was plausible.  After about 2 days of me moping he began acting annoyed that I wouldn’t “let it go”.  I still haven’t let it go completely, though I don’t bring it up to him.  It’s here inside me, though.

Do I worry he might read this?  Not for a moment.  Despite sharing links with him from time to time I’m reasonably sure he’s never read my blog.  I wrote a book, published it on Amazon, and shared it with him after years of being too scared to let him see any of it, and he never even looked at it.  Didn’t read one word of it.

He’s going to go the rest of his life thinking he married a crazy person who divorced him over bread.  It’s heart-breaking and frustrating.

So that’s where I am today.  Right now I’m making list a la Ross Gellar:  Reasons to stay vs. Reasons to go.  What’s better for me? For the kids? For us both?  Apologies for oversharing with my handful of readers, but this blog is a journal for me and it’s important when you feel something to speak it, and that’s what I’m doing.

Up, Up and Away!

Nosh –  Red meat.  Lots of ground beef with A1 (what makes me love A1 so much? I think it’s the Raisin Paste.)  For Labor Day, Dad cooked ribs and barbecue and then after that we had leftovers with A1.  It’s seriously delicious.

Tunes – I hate the new Taylor Swift song.  I don’t meant that ironically.  I don’t love it so much I hate it, or hate it so much I love it.  I just hate it.  At work I’ve been switching the Pandora station from Smooth Jazz to Beethoven for Studying.  I love Beethoven.  The channel features a variety of talented composers, and many selections remind me of attending the symphony with my grandparents.  A favorite for me this time of year is, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Moonlight Sonata.  For some reason it always makes me think of Christmas.

Wanderlust –  We surprised my Dad with a trip to the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival for his birthday. It’s an annual event hosted by Callaway Gardens, but none of us had ever been.  Riding in a balloon was a “bucket list” item for my dad, and I have always wanted to see the balloons up close.  A fun time was had by all, though I will say that I definitely prefer having my feet firmly on the ground.  Aside from the balloon rides, they also had Disney’s Up! playing in one of the auditoriums, live music and fair food, stilt walkers, and a huge Classic Car Show.  It was great fun!

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Fitness – Yoga, particularly head and handstands.  I have a great fear of anything upside down, so this week I’ve been practicing kicking up to headstands and just being at peace with the feeling.  I’m hoping to get much better at it and progress to the next yogi level.  Whatever that means. I basically just made it up.

Spiritual – Christie Marie Sheldon has some great videos on YouTube on energy clearing and raising vibration.  I’ve been vibrating lower and lower, as the universe has kicked me in the teeth a few times this week, so I googled and found these gems.  They are insightful and inspiring, and I highly recommend.

Dreams – UPDATE ON LAST WEEK’S DREAM::: MR. DECKER IS MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK!  He was one of my favorite teachers ever and I’m so happy to be connected with him again.  Also I had a dream last night that I was in some old town in Prague or perhaps Croatia.  Some Eastern European city with rich history and beautiful buildings.  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was there, and he asked me to dance in the street.  We also had some inside joke going about me wearing a tiara, but I can’t remember why it was funny.  Anyway he wasn’t Jaime from GoT, just Nikolaj and it felt very real but then I woke up.  I wonder if it was one of those dreams where your spirit and someone else’s spirit meet up (astral projection) and you get to hang out for a while, and then you go home.  I’m going to let myself believe this, anyway.

Photos – Balloons! Obviously.  Also, my eldest son, The Dragon, just passed his High Blue Belt test at karate so like the proud and slightly overbearing mom that I am, I took about 1,000 photos of that.

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TV and Film – Beautiful Creatures on NETFLIX.  If you love the idea of an eccentric Jeremy Irons in a cream floor-length coat and a thick Southern accent, who may also be a warlock of some kind, you will like this movie.  The film isn’t centered around his character, but he sure makes it watchable.

Between the Pages – On a recommendation, I’ve started (today!) reading a new book called The Disappearing Spoon (And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements).  Available on Amazon here  So far, I’d give it a 5/10 but I’m only about 17 pages in.  I’m hoping the promised mischief, intrigue and charm are just around the corner.

Tech – Debating this week the iPhone vs. the Android.  My dad got an iPhone and he hates it.  I like my iPhone, though at first I thought I’d never learn everything or get used to it.  My husband has an Android phone, though, and swears by it.  So which is better?  Livewire breaks it down.

Inked

If I got a tattoo 

Right now 

Today 

I think it would say

“I give up.”