Tomorrow you are 9

Hi Jr,

9 years ago around this time I was curling my pregnant self up on my favorite futon, Pillow Pet wedged under my bump, Potter zonked out at the other end wrapped around my feet, full of Pasquinis and ready for some sleep.

8 hours later we were off to the hospital to meet you, because your habit of waking mom up pre-dawn had to start somewhere.

I have a terrible/wonderful habit of taking a selfie of us after you doze off the night before your birthday. When you are quiet and still, and I can still see hints of the little face I first saw peering back at me back then.

Sorry, not sorry

Sorry, not sorry

 

 

I know this birthday isn’t what we thought it would be. I know it isn’t fair and everything is strange and sometimes scary right now and that it really sucks, buddy.

I hate it – believe me, I want the world and the sun and the moon for you… I want a million bajillion things for you and none of them look like this.

Here is my promise to you, now and always, my sweet silly strong amazing son: Whatever we face, I will work with you to make the best of it. Tomorrow for your birthday (don’t you worry, doodle, mom’s got some tricks up her sleeve,) and the day after that, and all of the days to come. Your dad and I, and your NeNe and Pop, and Gaga and Grandpa, and all the Aunts and Uncles and Cousins will always help you find the good in the world.

But then again, that is easy with you around – because you are an unending source of good – you find it and multiply it, wherever you go.

And I am so sorry you and all the other kiddos around the world are experiencing this, and that the normal we all live right now is so far removed from the world you knew just a few short weeks ago.

We will get back there, friend.

I am so proud of how you are hard you are trying and finding ways to adapt and still be funny and energetic and creative and loving; and I am proud of how you value others in the world and see yourself in the greater picture of our town, our state, our country, and our world. You have a big, brave, WONDERFUL heart. We are just the luckiest ever to have you as our son.

You are a beam of light, and where you go darkness runs to hide.

You illuminate all of the goodness in the world for me. Burn bright always Jr.

See you tomorrow (comically early as always, I am sure,) birthday boy.

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Today

Each day I am wearing a shirt that reminds me of someone I care about. Today is a SeaQuake Brewing shirt from my awesome coworker.

As I write this – I hear Jr in the basement, giggling at the FB Kids Messenger game he is playing with the neighbor kid from down the street.

Two weeks ago, FB Kids Messenger was not a thing that my kid needed access to in my opinion.

Two weeks was another damn lifetime. What did I know two weeks ago?

I have struggled already through massive highs and lows, and started posts for each of them – somehow never able to finish the thoughts. Which is fitting, really, because I can’t finish a single thought in my head anymore either. It is a constant swirling whirlpool of worries and responsibilities and checklists and hope and fear and disbelieve and realizing and over and over and on.

One day I am Super Mom – ready to Mom Up and handle the whole household through this time of crisis with a smile and understanding and a solution for every issue that arises.

The next I am despondent, concerned for my team at work, watchful and worried about my family here, and paralyzed with fear for Dr Sissy, Dr BIL, and all the other doctors, nurses, and others on the frontlines of this war.

Some days I go back and forth. A lot.

I am not a person I know. I am a stranger to myself, moment to moment – learning to be a person in this world.

So now I listen to my son on his video chat with the kiddo he would typically be riding scooters with out in front, and he is laughing.

And I am so effing grateful for that.

And that I guess, is today.

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Imposter

Let’s talk about Imposter Syndrome, shall we?

I say this knowing that, to be honest, even talking about Impostor Syndrome triggers feelings of Impostor Syndrome in every fiber of my being.

“Ugh Keri, you have to be important enough to not feel worthy enough of not feeling worthy and important, and you aren’t so just stop.”

So yeah.

It can be tough to combat that feeling of fakeness if you can’t understand that you are even in the place you would need to be in order to be faking something.

(Wait, What? Are we in a Friends episode Right now?)

they dont know that we know

But here we are. Here I am.  I have felt it SO much in all aspects of my life recently.  I feel it here, with my content and it makes me think “you are not a real-enough writer and people don’t care, so just stop embarrassing yourself.”   (Clearly this voice wins in stops and starts.)

It creeps into my family life — when it takes me 3 days to reach out to Jr’s school administration to voice concerns because “they  know what they are doing and you are just going to look like that dumbass mom who is up everyone’s butt about everything, Keri.”    It whispers in my ear every time I make a choice that is different than other parents, every time Jr says “all the other kids get to do ___________.”

When I make choices about my family finances or food or fun or ANYTHING, there is the quiet echo of “who made you boss? What do you know?”

Don’t even get me started about the professional life stuff –  eight years into the process of growing an amazing team , and a few months into a new promotion,  AND  hot off a review that included lots of amazing and constructive feedback from colleagues, there is still that voice that says “WHO are they talking about!? It can’t be you.  You can’t make these decisions, you can’t lead a team like they say, tomorrow you will surely show your entire shitty hand and it will all go to pot.”

 

Here’s the thing. Magical thinking is awesome in books and movies. But in 2020 I made it my goal to combat all kinds of untruths with facts.  With the knowledge that others already come to me and I DO these things every day. I make these decisions. I know what my kid needs. I built this team from one person (me) to a whole big-ass team.

And whatever I write, even in the times when someone isn’t paying me, makes me a writer.

They don’t know that I know that they know, but I know….

I got this.

 

 

 

 

 

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On Main Street

Current rental sitch….

When I was in my junior year, I got in an accident right out in front of the High School.

A driver decided to run a stop sign and drove into the passenger side of my car without so much as slowing down. I jumped out, adrenaline racing, screaming at her “Why didn’t you stop!? My friend’s little sister is right in my passenger seat! You could have hurt us!!!” (I distinctly remember saying “my friend’s little sister, even though she was only a year younger than us, also very much my friend as well.)

Her answer was that she saw the stop sign, but didn’t stop. K

There we were, right as all the traffic was coming out of the school, blocking one of the busiest intersections on Main street while I sent someone to call the police.

It took a bit, but here came the officer up the street from the police station to sort things out, and the other motorist’s face went from a look of determination to disappointment when I burst into tears, called the officer by name and sobbed into his hug “she hit me and Sara in my jeep, Bart!!”

So off she went to get her ticket, and off I went to start the process of dealing with filing a claim with her insurance, etc. With a LOT of help from my dad.

And so it was… 20-something years later, on Halloween evening, that was sitting at a stoplight on that same Main Street, in my jeep, waiting for a red light to change.

When suddenly, the motorist behind me decided it was time to go. And so he did. Into the back of the Keri-mobile at the still very much red light.

This time no one was in the car with me. This time when I jumped out there wasn’t any screaming – I just said “are you ok? Do you have your insurance info?” And dialed the police non-emergency number.

But it was not-at-all lost on me, the eerie feeling of déjà vu, as I stood there waiting next to my injured Jeep, in the intersection on Main, for a hometown police officer to arrive, thanking the people who stopped to make sure we were ok. Even car crashes in your hometown spark memories.

Information exchanged and reports complete, off I went to take Jr trick-or-treating before starting the claim process (I did refrain from calling my dad for an assist this time, although I had to stop myself a few times – insurance stuff sucks!)

All involved with both of those accidents were fortunate to walk away with damage to vehicles, and not the people inside them, and as so-very-often happens to me now, I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratefulness at the sense of community that has lasted all of these years as my little town has grown (and grown, and GROWN.)

We bundled up and walked the neighborhood in the cold Colorado twilight of Halloween, and of course I got misty eyed watching my son with his friends, and laughing and shivering along with our neighbors.

We are so lucky to be here in this wonderful place with these wonderful people.

(So neighbors – go easy on the Colorado native driving the economy rental with Kansas plates, it’s all the insurance company would spring for!)

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Bittersweet

Today I turn 43.

But last weekend I was 17.

It’s (kinda sorta) true.

Bright and early Saturday morning I picked Dr. Sissy up at the airport for a quick 3 day visit just ahead of our birthday.

And OF COURSE she had a jam-packed schedule of seeing friends, hanging with the fam (see pic,) and drinking wine and giggling with yours truly –but we had a specific greater goal.

Gosh, aren’t our parents lucky? (J/k- we won the parent lottery with these awesome humans for sure!)

Time Travel.

Kinda….

You see, growing up in Colorado, being a teenager in the summer meant one thing above all others – Red Rocks concert season.

And to our crew, the HIGH HOLY HOLIDAY of 1990’s summers at Red Rocks was the 4th of July show with Big Head Todd and The Monsters, and Blues Traveler. But I need you to understand something right here and now, people – if you were raised when I was raised, WHERE I was raised, Blues Traveler was the decorative afterthought on that bill and BHT&tM was EVERYTHING.

I could get all misty and nostalgic about those shows, and go digging through my closet for my Birks (actually I should find those,) and my ripped up CU sweatshirt and really dive down that rabbit hole, but I will spare you and just leave it at that.

So, in a sentence that could very well have been written about my junior year of high school, we loaded into my jeep and took off for Morrison for the main event of our final weekend as 42 year olds.

Big Head Todd and the Monsters and Toad the Wet Sprocket at Red Rocks.

YASSSSSSSSSSS.

(Sidenote for those in the know – that bottom parking lot feels A LOT farther in your 40s than it does when you are younger, amirite!?)

Seriously…. the lower lot is rough, yo.

Keep climbing..

It was about the time that we were pulling into said parking lot that my darling twin sister, the other half of my egg, realized that she had left her wallet at my house and didn’t have her ID… it took us about 5 minutes to realize that if needed, she could probably use mine… because you know TWINS.

BUT – something else we always seem to forget – we don’t have to plot to game the system, because you know OLD.

So we easily grabbed two classy aluminum bottles of Chardonnay on the way to our seats. #standardmoms.

My sister is hawt. (Get it?)

Again, at this point I feel compelled to express that Big Head Todd was a BFD if you grew up Boulder adjacent like we did. And they were great. Truly.

But Toad the Wet Sprocket brought the mf-ing house down. Legit – they were a damn blast and every song just got better….

They were SPEAKING to that crowd of my peers…

Then they played “Walk on the Ocean” and this remarkable hush fell over all of us jaded Gen Xers….like we were noticing the lyrics for the first time:

We don’t even have pictures
Just memories to hold
That grow sweeter each season
As we slowly grow old….

AND WE BLEW THAT SHIT UPPPPPP – everyone screaming and wooping and dancing and remembering.

Not from our Instagram memories…. Not even from old pictures or faded concert tickets stuck in long ago stored or tossed scrapbooks…

It was the music – it was the place – it was the feeling. We were all back there, and somehow as we huddled in the dark watching the lights reflecting on the soft rain that danced in the smoke above the stage as Big Head Todd brought Hazel Miller out to join them, just like they always did/do – it was 1994 again. We were remembering bringing huge thermoses of vodka lemonade and giant backpacks filled with food into shows –spreading out blankets and hogging up real estate in general admission and soaking up the sun…. getting together and breaking up and making up and Camel straights and fireworks and epic rain storms and once-in-lifetime shows we took for granted and just EVERYTHING…

I confess that my sister has a better concept of what other people think of shows at Red Rocks than I do. I have never NOT lived here – it has never NOT been my normal. I understand that I am remarkably spoiled in that way.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel its might…. For me it is in the rocks and the trees and the view of the city I love, but it is also every person I have ever shared it with. It is Doctor Sissy… and the times I have sat there with The Mr. throughout our entire 18 year relationship… it is Matt and Christy and Parker and Rachel and Radar and Misty and Jimmy and Julia and every other person that myself and my sister have sat next to in the growing dark of a show in our now 43 years on this planet, underneath those rocks in the blazing sun and the driving rain, and seemingly very little in between (if you know you know.) And now, it is Jr…. we stopped there on our way to spend a week with The Mr’s family in the mountains last summer, and this fall him and I will make the climb from the parking lots to let him experience his first concert at Red Rocks, along with my dear friend Stacey and her daughter, and I am SO excited to bring him into the fold and to share it with more friends.

Because sitting there – with my twin sister, a few days before our 43rd birthday, listening to music that shaped our souls, surrounded by other people our age who were also dancing and singing their hearts out…. We felt connected to each other, and reconnected with our selves.

Of course nostalgic glow doesn’t really last forever, and as we exited and started our hike back to the parking lot we were instantly reminded that we were FAR from 1994:

There is a literal Lyft-land for post-show pick ups… you sit in chairs hanging out and they call your name on a bullhorn.. #reasonsKerilovesmillenials

And so we left and followed the traffic back out on to I-70 and out of the foothills, and went through the Taco Bell drive thru (like we did in high school after a show, DUH,) and came home giggling and chatting and trying not to wake the whole house (like we did in high school after a show, also DUH.)

And we fell asleep smiling, somewhere in between 17 and 43 — and Big Head Todd really always was right… Its bittersweet, more sweet than bitter.

It’s a bittersweet, surrender.

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