Category Archives: Mom life

The Day Before

Jr in our happy place

 

 

I used to write.

Constantly and continuously.

Like breathing in and breathing out.  I wrote.  In journals and blogs and letters and cards – long essays and stories; short perfectly crafted emails; for pleasure, for introspection, for work.  My life was filled with the beginnings of ideas jotted on scraps of paper or margins of more formal notes for work.

My entire understanding of the world came through how I wrote it down.

But I have realized – completely – I don’t write anymore.

 

In March I sent in the deposit for a membership to the local private swim and racquet club that I had been saying for years we should join.  I told no one – not The Mr, not Jr., not Dr Sissy or my parents.   I just filled out the membership, got the confirmation, and held it in my head as a signal that I believed better days were coming.

And the school year ended – summer opened up for us like a blooming carpet of possibilities, leading us to find a new level of freedom in the outdoor spaces Colorado does so very well.

With few exceptions, Jr and I found ourselves at the club every day – weekends were marathons with fully packed coolers and gallons of SPF used.  Weekdays he would amuse himself around the house until I wrapped up my workday and we found our way to our favorite table in the late afternoon shade. 

It was our happy place.  Our safe place. There in the uncrowded expanse of the pool deck, with space to spread out and ample access to snack bar soft pretzels,  we could frolic fully without sacrificing our care of the work and the warnings from Dr Sissy and BIL and all of their medical professional counterparts who were (and still are) pleading for caution as we navigated our newest version of “normal.”

There were other activities too – lunches on the patio of our favorite local haunt, backyard happy hours with our favorite winery friend, and long weekends for Jr and The Mr spent with my parents at their condo in the mountains while Binky the aging wonderdog and I enjoyed the silence of a temporarily empty house. 

It was supposed to be our in-betweener summer.    “Outside good, Inside bad” was the motto, and we felt like we were so far away from the previous summer spent circling our little neighborhood and floating our tubes in the extra large backyard paddling pool.  We were on our way to Jr returning to school safely, and in the meantime we were just lounging in our little oasis – me refilling my mimosa while Jr practiced his front flip off the diving board endlessly.

Life was good.

But it staying that way wasn’t in the cards, was it? I started to see the worry and hurt overtake my sister and brother-in-law on our frequent Duo calls again.  Nervously glanced at the calendar as the first day of school crept closer. Did my best to temper Jr’s concerns about upcoming changes in his world.

I have been blessed with such a kind-hearted kid. Actually, I would bet we all have – kids are amazing, aren’t they?

He wants to know everything (sometimes he thinks he already does,) and he wants to try everything and he wants to show people how to care about others.  Which is awesome, but is also a lot.   Goodness knows as a grown up, I certainly haven’t found a way – so instead we took advantage of every last minute of summer we had together.

The day before the school year started, we found ourselves out in the center of the pool, Jr on his watermelon floatie, me whirling him around and around playing “washing machine” as he likes to call it.

I spun him away, laughing and waving as he floated just out of reach – and he momentarily stopped smiling and paddled back quickly.

“Mom – don’t let go.  Spin me and spin me – but hang on.”

And so I did – and there we were –  just him and me hanging on to each other – laughing and spinning in the sun and willing time not to move and stretching the moment out into forever.

I knew I wanted to write about that moment – to capture it and keep it and hold a piece of it.

But I don’t write anymore – because writing it down won’t keep tomorrow from coming, won’t let me protect him or anyone else I love. Won’t make the world kinder or the truth less terrible than it really is. 

And because like all who are not entirely consumed by selfishness, and like our world itself, I am forever changed.

Still, somewhere in my mind and my heart – him and I are spinning alone together in the clear blue water, sun on our faces, not letting go.

 

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Filed under Just Sayin', Mom life, musing

Mother of a day

Mothers’ Day is interesting as a concept…. And even more interesting as a reality. (Amirite, Moms? Where my sisters at?)

I always talk big about it in the lead up – “Mothers’ Day is coming, so maybe you can get your own stuff together in your Lacrosse backpack and give mom a break this weekend, eh?” “Mothers’ Day is tomorrow, so how about if you wake up in the middle of the night, you head straight to Daddy’s side of the bed and let Mommy sleep this once, maybe?” It’s Mothers’ Day, so how about when you see NeNe and Pop pull into the neighborhood, you come right back in from playing with the neighborhood gang and wash up so we can have brunch without me having to belllow down the street like a loon?”

This is all pointless. This will not happen. This is just not how things will ever be…..

Bright and early last Saturday morning, Jr trotted off to walk Binky-the-wonder-dog with The Mr, and when the Mr. and Binky returned, Jr did not. He was off on his scooter or skateboard or bike, playing with his friends. No Lacrosse prep made for his practice and game later that morning. No no no.

But later that day, when him and I were having our typcial mother/son Saturday lunch date, his little freckles were blinging away as he gazed up at me and I kinda forgot that we had a total smackdown about getting all his crap to the field earlier…

And much later, in the wee small hours of a newly-begun Mothers’ Day, at 1-something a.m., Jr did NOT direct his attention to his father’s side of the bed… instead he trolled around until he found me – not on my side of the bed, but where I had decided to stay after falling asleep on the sofa in front of the TV in the family room. He woke me out of a dead sleep by sticking his pale, wide-eyed face as close as he could, and tapping me ON MY FACE and then I demonstrated to him just how high an aging woman can jump when provoked. I confess I started my statement to him with “oh buddy no no nope, it is dad’s turn, bro!” Then we went and he made me wake The Mr to lay with him, because getting me up = good, getting dad up = not. (Side note, I still did it, and I slept the sleep of a woman who made a good damn choice, yo.)

At the exact crack of dawn (ok, it may have been 6:30 am, BUT STILL,) Jr was up and asking when Nene and Pop would arrive for brunch. Hint – NOT at 6:30 in the dang a.m… Just sayin’.

I swore this year I would keep brunch simple since, while I love to treat my mom on Mothers’ Day, I also love to not have a lot to worry about on Mothers’ Day so this was the spread:

Lox, roast beef, bagels, fruit, and a steady supply of coffee, juice, mimosas, and morning mules.

It was perfect – especially since it did INDEED take much convincing to get Jr to come in from playing outside and sit and eat with us.

Sigh.

I would LOVE to say that when it came time to take mom (dat’s me) out for her early bird Sunday dinner at her favorite fried chicken joint, he came willingly running home ready to spend some quality time.

But lying is wrong, and he was a total pill about it because even HOURS AND HOURS of playing outside isn’t enough at this point. (Don’t get me wrong – playing is good. So is family time….and eating. And not making mom hangry on Mothers’ Day.)

So midway to the restaurant we had to have a “pull the car over and get serious about it” talk from Dad about how the rest of the day was going to go down – and dinner was yummy, though a little bit pouty at times from one side of the table.

BUT THEN – bedtime rolled around and we started reading my favorite book from when I was in 3rd grade (which he will be in fall,) Superfudge.

#judyblume4eva

He was howling with laughter along with me, which was kind of really totally awesome.

And when we had read our chapter of that book, and moved on to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (our current “fall asleep to it book”,) he rolled over, sighed, and fell asleep like this.

And much like the Grinch that is still his bedtime buddy, my heart grew three sizes that day…

Another ride on the Mothers’ Day emotional roller coaster completed without running off the rails, and just like all the best rides it was a total hair raiser that scares the heck out of you, and leaves you grinning from ear to ear at the end.

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Fighting words

I am not around…. I know that – I am not ever around anymore. When I post something it is depressing or seems bitter, and you wonder why Keri isn’t funny anymore.

I’ve hinted… I’ve skirted… I have touched ever-so-gingerly at the raw nerves that I feel like consume me every second of every day while I just try to navigate raising my kid and taking care of my family and having lost the last tiny shred of the mighty faith I had for so very long, and spinning in an abyss of a reality that feels like a dystopian novel I probably would have hated reading in AP English all those years ago.

I don’t say anything… I don’t spend my time here, because I am not fun. I am just angry, and scared, and disappointed, and embarrassed and SO VERY ENRAGED….

And I am also a person who (in spite of what some who know me would say,) is quiet, and awkward, and not apt to challenge someone unless they force my hand.

In short – you all never came here to stand beneath my soap box about anything, but that is where I feel myself standing at this point in my life (even if it is mostly watching, wide-eyed and horrified,) and so I just kind of stopped talking.

Funny things still happen (I am looking at you, my amazing coworkers who make me howl with share-worthy stories all the time,) and heart-wrenching still things happen (hey Daddy, I will bring you all the gatorade on the planet if you can just keep your sodium up so we don’t spend 4 days in ICU wondering if you had a stroke EVER AGAIN and I love you the most, just sayin…) but I don’t write about anything anymore.

Mostly now, I just look at Jr…. sometimes I am so flummoxed by him because he has SO MUCH fight in him right now…. At like, EVERYTHING sometimes it seems. Then I realize that I better let him keep it… because he is not safe. We are NOT SAFE.

And every second of every day of his whole life from the time he is WAY too young to have to do it, he will have to fight… He will have to fight the hatred that keeps bubbling up showing it’s ugly-ass worthless face in his world…. He will have to fight because so many people think it isn’t worth it to stand up and act to keep him safe at school (and everywhere else.) He will have to fight because it has become standard for news stations to put together one page graphics that show how many victims went to each hospital and how serious their injuries are to provide quick overviews of those subjected to bullets or bombs or WHATEVER in their schools and their places of worship or work or recreation or anywhere because it is dispassionately normal now.

So much of the fight I see in him switches in tone to questions of his vulnerability in our quiet moments together, and so I can’t really be confused by it – he is scared and defensive… and he should be.

And I am too.

I don’t want to lose sight of our life. I don’t want to miss the “everyday funny” of my still-occasionally reluctantly suburban living. The milestones of Jr’s awesomeness. The celebrating of the day-to-day with The Mr, and Potter, and the rest of our family and friends. I *want* a heart not hardened. And I want Jr to look back someday, reading his mom’s words, and feel those moments. So he can remember that it wasn’t all just the fight.

So I will try harder, Jr… for you. To keep writing –to keep seeing those things now, in this time of storm and trial and fear.

And also I will try harder to fight for you – so you always know that you may feel like you have to – but you are NEVER alone..

Winky kisses and Avicii hats forever – buddy… you and me.

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The Gooball Story

Recently I met a fellow busy mom (to clarify, ALL MOMS are busy moms,) for a much needed  coffee-and-catch up session.  The craziness of Jr’s 2nd grade school year has combined with an amazing year of challenging and fulfilling growth for me in my role at work, and all the other stuff-of-life that we all experience, creating a whirlwind that carried the whole family from late summer and into the holiday season in a blink.

I was glad to stop and take a breath and spend some time with my friend and a large sugar free hazelnut latte, and somehow our conversation turned to school fundraisers, which quickly led into fundraiser prizes, which brought us to the dreaded goo ball.

Do you know the goo ball?  My dear friend, who always seems to me to be the textbook example of composed super-mom, started into a story about her daughter bringing home this racquetball-sized squishy, sticky ball made of a material that allowed it to stick to whatever it was thrown at, and crawl down slowly.

“OH THE GOO BALL!! ”  I shouted, probably a little too loudly for the quiet of the coffee house we were in, “I know the damn goo ball…. I have A Story about the goo ball!!!”

“I HAVE A STORY ABOUT THE GOO BALL!!” she exclaimed (also loudly… I bet they don’t wish we could come in every day at that coffee shop.)

Both of our stories involved the aforementioned goo ball becoming stuck, seemingly permanently, to a very high ceiling, and the ensuing circus that unfolded in an effort to get the damn thing down.

Mine was a harrowing tale involving The Mr at the tippy top of an extension ladder trying to swat at the devil ball with various poking devices while I held the ladder up at the bottom.  Spoiler alert, I can’t hold The Mr up and the ladder slid all the way down, taking my legs out from underneath me as The Mr rode it the whole way down the wall until we were both in a heap trying to see if the other was ok.

Fun facts to know and share – goo balls stain.  Significantly.  Along with the dark goo smudge on my ceiling, I also have a front entry table with “goo ball marks” all over the bottom shelf…  a greesy reminder of hard-learned goo ball lessons.

As we told our stories and described the many and varied household items we used to try and dislodge the nightmare “prizes” from our respective ceilings, we howled with laughter and clutched on to each other, caught up in the camaraderie  created by the mutual understanding of such a ridiculous situation.

It was just what I needed. It was perfect.

Over the coming days as I told other moms in my world about the conversation and how hard we laughed and how perfect it was, I learned that having a goo ball story is actually FAR from a unique experience.  Turns out those suckers have haunted the homes of almost every mom I know.   Somehow knowing this gave me an even bigger sense of renewed connection within my mom village.

Momming (yep, it’s a verb,) can be isolating at times.  It can feel like no other person is going through just what you are going through as you guide and root for and love and prod and sometimes yell your offspring through their days… everyone else seems to have it together.   It can SEEM that way.

But really?

Really we are all just trying to figure out how to hide our goo ball stain.

 

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May Day vs Mayday!

I used to love May Day.  Bulbs blooming, grass getting green, days at least STARTING to try and get a little longer…..  the promise of summer relaxation looming, full of promise, on the horizon.  Oh yeah.

But when you are a parent, May Day becomes more like MAYDAY!!

There is so much to do – May is the moment that the insanely big wave of all the parental shit you are doing finally breaks, and washes over you… grab something and hold the f*ck on, or be sucked out into the sea of trying to wrap up a school year while simultaneously plotting an entire summer AND making sure you have everything you need in place for the coming school year.

MAYDAY MAYDAY, we have a mom down! Send coffee!! Send wine!!  Throw up some shameless bargaining prayer!!

Every time I open my email, I find a new deluge of invitations for end-of-year school year activities, and forms to fill out for summer day camp, and even more forms for the coming fall, and (the worst) an unending supply of notices regarding MORE fees for said summer and fall.

All of the flat surfaces in our house are covered in forms and notices and finished products, with a fresh new hell of paper added to the pile each evening when Jr’s backpack explodes in a crapstorm that leads me to believe nightly that “this must’ve been the big day for sending stuff home.”  But no…. no no…  Silly, silly Keri.   Tomorrow’s pile will make you long for the smaller size of today’s.

The entire last 3 weeks leading up to the final day of the school year is an m-f-ing blur.  It is like I KNOW the days must actually be passing, but I can’t remember where they go.

A great example of this is that I actually started writing this the week BEFORE May Day.  As in, May 1st.  But then I blinked, got buried in a backpack paper explosion, and OH LOOK, it is May 15th.

This past weekend I cooked brunch for my parents to celebrate Mothers’ Day – and part of that “celebration” included 20 minutes where we all poured over our summer calendars, marking out all of the things we already KNOW are happening – followed by scrutinizing the leftover dates to see where we can wedge in other things that we all need or want to happen.

When did summer turn into something I need project management software for!?

Not to mention the last week of school that is roaring up on us – otherwise known as “the week Keri is going to office in her car in the school parking lot,” evidently.  I think there is at least one family participation activity a day for us in Jr’s class from now until the end of school.   There needs to be some sort of “emergency May mom clone” that we can all keep in the basement storage closet and just charge her up to trade off conference calls and field days…  family picnics and reconciliation reports….  appreciation teas and power points… and play performances and making meals and permission slip completion and new hire intros and sports physicals and laundry and bank file approval and swimming lessons and magazine submissions and carpool and HVAC tune ups and bedtime story books and ……

MAYDAY MAYDAY!!!!

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