The Generation That Built Us

Having a daughter has completely derailed me. Things that I have kept high on a shelf, have come down to tiny hands that don’t understand the frailty of the memories they hold.

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This bunny has a good 25 years on her new owner.

My father being in the military, we rarely lived close to family. When we did go “home” to visit, we stayed with my grandmother; my father’s mother. I only just recently found out my own mother hated it. But my brother, sister and I loved everything about it. The cookie jar that held snack cakes instead of just plain ole cookies, the “haunted barn” we’d explore only supervised by my aunt, who would later in life become my roommate, the smell of coffee and cigarettes at all hours of the day, and Grandma. Her cooking, her gifts, her love, and her pride in us: the grandkids.

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Always so proud of us (I’m the bottom left of the main photo.. My cousin is the innocent by-standard. Her blog can be found HERE).

My Grandmother was the face of everything that the subsequent generations wanted to be to their family: the Matriarch. There was not a get together that she was not in the center of. Her cooking alone is enough for its own post.  It was never ever about what she bought us. What she gave us, she made with her own two hands. I am happy that even at a young age, I recognized the prize that was handed to me that Christmas.

Hand sewn bunnies, like the one gifted to me in the first photo, were given to all the granddaughters she had at the time. Many MANY more came later, but as her eye sight went, and her arthritis worsened, fewer things were sewn and less gifts were made.

And now as a mother, I treasure more the things my mother makes for me and my children. I want her to be proud of my children like my grandmother was proud of us. I want my daughter to know the line of strong women that she comes from. I also want her to know the value and worth behind taking a few abstract materials, a little bit of finesse and a lot of love and transforming it into an heirloom; a token of love and life that will transcend her own if treated delicately.

Grandma, thank you for sharing your gifts with us. I hope I do well to teach my kiddos of your diligence, your love and your pride in them. Even my littlest little who did not get to meet you. We love and miss you dearly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Snap Shot of Life on the Extra Board.

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Photo Credit: Ales Krivec

This super-short is in response to a writing prompt that is very dear to my heart. You can find the original post at What Inspires Your Writing?

Twelve hours had come way too slow. He had been stopped in the middle of nowhere with no one else but the engineer for ten hours of the day. Not moving. Just waiting for dispatch to give them a green light. Instead they will deadhead in a van with a sketchy driver to their destination: a dirty hotel without consistent wifi. Bored and tired, he was ready for the day to be over.

Ten hours had come way too fast. She really felt she could use a few more hours in the day. By the time dinner for the kids was finished, hers was cold. She did the dishes while she ate, with the baby chatting in her high chair and son playing Mouse Trap upstairs. Bottles washed, diaper bag and back pack ready for the next day. Her own lunch prepped and ready to grab for the morning, she takes a few more minutes to clean up the living room before scooping up the baby and carrying dirty clothes with her upstairs. Then baths, PJs, teeth brushed, stories told, milk refilled, bedtime snack given, cuddling the babe back to sleep, more milk, and finally she is able to take off her shoes and work clothes. Laying in bed, she keeps the TV on for light and mindlessly looks at her phone until sleep arrives. She can hardly make it to 9pm, exhausted. 12am a little boy appears and snuggles until she is able to wake up enough to return him to bed and fulfill his requests. 2am a sleepy girl cries for milk. Twenty minutes to satisfy her hunger and then back to bed. She glances at the clock. 3 more hours until her alarm goes off. She doesn’t even know what day it is.

 

 

What Do I Say When…?

 

As an introvert, I do not often mix work and my personal life. At work, I am “on”. I enjoy the people I work with and give as much of myself as I can. At home, I put up a protective barrier and little gets through, maybe aside from Social Media. But then there are certain people that also give of their energy instead of taking.

I have a dear friend that has such a wonderful and eloquent way with words. She is such a positive light, even in her own hurt. I sometimes joke when I introduce her to people, that she could tell you about a dog taking a poop in a way that would make you WANT to pick up that poop. She finds, identifies, and celebrates the good in people and situations. She is truly amazing in the way she breathes life into people.

So it absolutely broke my heart when I learned that this awesome woman lost her father. I am really horrible at condolences and often just give space to the grieving. But as we both are very articulate of our feelings, I simply asked if I could share her gift of word with the world.

“Nearly 15 years passed after his first stroke, but his tenacity never wavered. That ogre called stroke suppressed his body, but not his will. Today, he unexpectedly surrendered to the daily plight endured, cast hemiparesis aside, and walked into heaven’s gates unbroken. While dense fog permeates our midst, we have been lavished with an outpouring of love.”

She wrote an email upon her return from the service:

“I return to work today still feeling afflicted and emotionally bankrupt, but at the same time, attempting to find gratitude for the small lights of love in my midst. Those came by way of a multitude of messages and expressions of kindness.

I kindly accept warm embraces and must add, those have sustained me in the past week. While I will readily accept all hugs, I do ask that all refrain from questions. I know that any conversation about my dad will erupt in a flood of tears.

My dad’s services honored his life and highlighted his will to serve. I hope to continue carrying the torch he so readily upheld.

I wrote the following piece, printed 50 copies, and had all our family read along during a dove release ceremony. Thought I’d share below:

Your soul is released to a place on high;

Where trumpets sound in the celestial sky.

Those left behind your hand wish to hold;

We trust in God and will rely on one another, further cementing our bond as if cloaked in gold.

We promise to band together, to forge and cinch our allegiance and unity;

To honor your life and remember you for all eternity. ”

 

She told me that a conversation with her niece sparked her inspiration for this poem. She felt the need to pull her family together. Time had waned the urgency of family and life took priority of making memories. We talked about coming of age where we leave much behind to work hard and make it on our own, that sometimes we no longer make time for those outside of immediate day to day life. My friend did not want her family to feel regret, or dwell in a place of division or seclusion. But she wanted to honor her father in the way that memorialized who he was.

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My dad loved to spend time on the water, so we spent the weekend at Grand Lake sharing stories and honoring his life.

She went on to tell me that her father had the gift of word. That he had a way of speaking life, hope, and happiness into anyone. Something she wanted to carry in his legacy.

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“You left my world unexpectedly;

without notice or advisory, you were taken from me.

While I cannot comprehend why you are no longer here,

I try to hold on to reason and rationalize my fears.

Many of us want to rewind the clock, to hug you one more time,

and feel your embrace, hear you try to make rhymes.

Sometimes your words were poetic to me.

You were gifted and talented in prose, with a God-given ability to speak.

When inspiration knocked, a flood would emit

and the end resulted in persuasive words that yielded significance.

I will honor your legacy by appealing to others with your gift of word,

And continue your tradition of inspiring others with purpose to serve.

Your words infused conviction for all humanity.

You manifested God’s love, showcasing a life of integrity.

Thank you for the gifts bestowed along the way,

For establishing a bedrock of truth, for that and more we honor your life today.”

 

My heart is so full of this woman. Her words are always so heavy with love, encouragement and praise. It was no wonder then when she described her father’s gift of word, where she had gotten it from. She spoke of him in a way that made me wish I had known him. There is no doubt that everyone that had that privilege was a much better person because of it.

 

Dear My Sweet Friend,

I cannot fathom the emptiness left by the physical absence of your father. The hunger and thirst to hear his voice, and receive his words that would pick you back up and set you on track. You have worked so diligently to ensure that your family is able to feel warmth and love in a time when otherwise would feel cold and regretful. I also can see that this is the constructive way that you have chosen to heal. You have strength beyond measure and his light and gifts shine through you every single day. You honored him even while he lived and you continue to do so. You are allowed to be emotionally taxed. You are allowed to cry. You are allowed to set those boundaries for yourself. But know that you are supported by people that admire and love you. Thank you for letting me share you, your father, and your story with the world.

The Up Hill

 

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The thing about depression is there is no black and white. No yes or no. It’s a journey. Some days the going is hard and other days just treading water is a success.

5 days shy of 8 months and I finally feel like things are on the up for me. You see, getting better does not really start at getting help. Some times it gets significantly worse after that. Getting help is like clawing at the sides of the hole you are in to slow down the rate at which you are falling. You are either going find something that saves you, or you’ll hit the bottom. And for some, that is the only time they are able to climb out.

For me, I did not quite get to the bottom. I am adult enough to know that things could have been far worse. For me, reaching out meant a small dose of medication, counseling and a ton of support from the people around me. I am not embarrassed about postpartum depression. I have a ton of friends that are pregnant. If they start having symptoms, they know exactly who to talk to.

My PPD was not a disconnect from my children. It was different. It was not even triggered by pregnancy and birth, but exasperated due to the hormone changes that go along with it. I’m depressed because I hate the way I look after these beautiful creations clawed their way out of me like Ace Ventura out of a rhino butt..

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I am sad because I will never be 20 again. I will probably NEVER fit any of those jeans in the blue tote in my basement. And I will NEVER reach my fitness goal of wearing my old bras again either.. I have so many cute ones, this in itself is depressing. You can tell me I am ridiculous and to go easy on myself because I just had a baby. But when have you ever known me to go easy on myself? It’s one of my quirks and everyone secretly loves me for it. If I was not so hard on myself, people would not get paid, and my son would smell like farts. All.The.Time. So you are welcome for me holding myself to high standards.

Back to what I was saying. I am glad you think I am beautiful. My husband is still attracted to me after this transformation, but I am not attracted to me. Nope. I struggle with the state of things. I know how to fix them, but I have not been able to sleep because babe wakes up at least every two hours to nurse, I work full time and I solo parent a lot of the time.

And I have been so tired that I would cry when my alarm went off. It was bad.

This week has actually felt like I consistently kept my head above water. I was even faced with something that would have completely derailed me, but it did not. In the past and with everything I have been through, I thought I was pretty resilient, and I guess I still am. I did not stop fighting to be happy. I knew that if I was unhappy, my children would be effected. My marriage had already taken a huge hit. But I made it through. We made it through. I could not have done it with out them.

But you know what the big turning point was? Moving the baby to her own room and sleep training. I stopped nursing in the middle of the night. She protests adamantly in the beginning but no more than an hour of crying and falling asleep and crying again cycle. After one week, I am a brand new person. I could, and plan to, conquer the world. Now I can enjoy my coffee instead of survive on it. Maybe it is selfish of me not to want my baby close at night, and I have noticed that as I get older, I am less and less willing to compromise on things like sleep. Selfish? Fine. I will own that. But I am also getting back to a personal state of better health. Which is far more important to both of my children at this point.

So thank you darling. I know when you grow up and read what your mama wrote about you, you might not like it. But if we could help others by sharing our experiences, then I’d say we’re already a pretty darn good team.

 

via Daily Prompt: Better

Not As I Do

This is a Mother’s Day post, but not in the sense that you may think. The last 17 years, our relationship has been complicated to put it simply. There were many lessons that she tried to teach me as I was growing, but in true child form, I opted to make mistakes versus listening and obeying the warnings she tried so desperately to penetrate into my adolescent psyche.

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I hated everything when I was a teenager.

She became a mother at a very young age. They were married soon after conception and my father, owning the responsibility of his new small family, joined the military. Then I came along. I have written about what I remember (or don’t) of my father in those  early years of life, but the constant was my mother. She was always there.  She raised us with very little help from anyone else, as we constantly moved from one place to another and away from family most of the time.

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My dad was stationed in Korea for a year and Mom was left to raise three kids alone.

I really wish I had appreciated her more then. I wish I had followed some of her instructions. I wish I had even liked her more. No doubt that I love her. She is my mother. But with my stubbornness and her life long search to find herself, we were never friends.

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In the fourth grade (I know this is a trivial time in one’s life that should not hold much weight into adulthood), I started to suck at school. I discovered at an early age that I was really smart. I also discovered that I learned so fast, I could pretty much wing-it most of the time. So I stopped doing homework. To this day I will go out of my way to avoid bringing work of any fashion home with me. This habit also was the driving force that convinced me it was time to leave the military. All this to say, my teachers informed my parents, who were unsuspecting that anything was wrong.

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But we managed a little fun in the midst of frustration.

In 1995, my mother wrote me a letter. It has remained preserved in a clear pencil pocket all these years. I took it with me after I went to juvy (another story for another time), was court ordered to live with my aunt, through college, to war and back twice, owning two houses, having two children of my own. This 3/4 piece of paper in my mother’s handwriting has remained with me.

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The coffee stain at the bottom happened today. This is the first time I have taken it out of that pencil pouch. Dammit.

Dear Dacia,

You are a very intelligent young lady. Your father and I are very proud of you and your accomplishments. We only ask that you try a little harder at keeping your mind on your studies while at school. You only get to go through school one time, please make the best of it. Life is too short as it is. Loosen up, enjoy yourself but remember without knowledge and education, we are poor people. And I don’t mean just the lack of money. I mean, in the lack of mind and knowledge. Try to view school as a play. You have the lead. Your even allowed to make up things as you go along. But you have to learn your lines. Spelling, Math, Reading, Social Studies, etc. You know what I mean. You know you can do better. I’ve seen you do better.

I love you,

Mom

When I became a teenager, my mother and I started down the same path. I can recall a day sitting in the passenger seat of the family car and mom driving. She asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I told her that I just wanted to party. All the time. At 15, I decided that I disagreed with 98% of what the world viewed as the responsibilities of being an adult. She tried to explain these concepts of paying bills and taxes, needing to get a job and what it truly took to support myself and be successful.

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I cannot imagine the desperation of my mother, to see me headed down a road that would lead me to just barely scraping by. I am truly amazed that at 32, I do not have an 18 year old child of my own.

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Recently, I had a chance to spend sometime with my mother. More time than I have spent with her since the day she drove me to the police station and handed me over.

It suddenly occurred to me that we both walked down a path together. And as I left her that day many years ago, I was able to jump back on the right track and make something of myself. She stayed. She made a series of choices that led her to a place that me and my siblings felt needed some intervention.

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As I picked her up and drove her to my home, I could not help but feel like the tables had turned. If I had not finally accepted the advice my mother had tried so hard to give me, I would still be in that passenger seat refusing to accept responsibility or acknowledge consequences of my life choices.

There is so much I want for my mother, but really, I just want a mother. I did not grow up how she expected, but I found my round about way to a successful life. I was not around for us to build that relationship that other daughters have with their mother. My kids might not get to visit Meemaw at the same house she had lived in for decades, like I got to growing up. But that’s alright.

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On Mother’s Day, I always struggle to find a good card at the store. Vague ones that simply say “I love you, Mom.” and don’t talk about “You were always there for me. You’re my best friend. I couldnt have done it without you.” I wish I could say those things, but for whatever reason, my fault, hers, or simply victims of circumstance, we don’t have a relationship like most women.

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Yes we are hoola-hooping in a bar…

I love my mother so deeply. I would tear down a mountain for her. And heaven help anyone that disrespects her or hurts her in anyway. That said, I cannot force her to make choices that would help her fit into this idea of “Mom” that I knew before. If she is happy, healthy, and taken care of I cannot ask much more than that.

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I needed my mama to help me. My PPD had gotten so bad. This visit really was a huge turning point in my own recovery. I still need my mama.

Even though her time with me was under stressful circumstances and her departure was quite abrupt, I did learn one thing. I need my mother. No matter who she was before or who she is now. I just needed her because I know she’d love me even if I wasn’t successful. Even if I was still in that passenger seat. Even if she had an 18 year old grandchild. She will always love me in the ways she can.

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So, happy Mother’s Day, Woman. I love you.

Just Jump

There was one time, I jumped out of an airplane. I had been on many before, even over a war zone when the turbulence was questionable to the pilot’s skill and flares shot out the back to ward off enemy fire. I would sometimes ask my fellow passengers if they would jump. Some looked at me wide-eyed and green-faced and shook their head no. Others would consider the question and without too much thought claim they would. I, however, had spend some time mulling the question over. I decided that if some one shoved a parachute in my arms, and had full confidence that I would live through the experience, I would absolutely do it. I think this is pretty consistent with most things in my life, though only a few where failure would mean certain death.

There is never a perfect time to have kids, buy a house, change jobs, get married. I mean sure, looking back everything fell into place, but at the time it was hard work and incredibly scary. I struggled and got hurt along the way, but every single thing in my life has placed my in the seat I am in (attached to this damn pump). Through all of these changes, one thing has remained consistent: my resilience. I never stopped looking up. I never kept trying for inner peace in the situation. I never let things consume me. And when it was hard to do on my own, I got help. I have been through some of the most horrible things. But I still smile and play with my baby girl when she wakes up, I still hug my son and tell him how handsome he is before school. I tell my husband how much I love him every single day. I come to work and put pride in every thing I do.

The other day I watched a video about Will Smith describing the time he jumped out of a plane. He said something like how complete and utter fear precedes unimaginable bliss. If you have children, those moments before that little person arrive are riddled with fear and anxiety. But the moment you hear that perfect sound of their cry, nothing ever comes close to the happiness and relief of that moment. Separated by milliseconds. Sometimes they are even all smashed together into one.

If this does not personify my message today, I don’t know what would. Thank you Kellie for letting me share this moment.

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This photo was taken by Jennifer Mason of Jennifer Mason Photography. The photo is of my friend Kellie and her brand new babe. (So many feels)

So if you’re on the fence of something incredibly scary and life changing I encourage you to take a chance for the better. (If you are on a literal fence and it’s a long way down, maybe you should reach out for some help like I did). Either way, change might be scary, but I think living the same day over and over is far worse.

 

Tug of War- The Daily Struggle of a Working Mom

I resent my breast pump. It talks to me the longer I sit in my office. Today its says F@#% You, F@#% You. Over and over and over again. Maybe subconsciously that’s what I want to say to it. My little Mini-Me just turned 7 months old and I really think I miss her more today than I did my first day back to work.

Four months ago (yes, American mothers must go back to work 3 months after birth for fear of reprimand or the loss of employment) I thought it would assist in my transition if I posted pictures of my two littles all over. It would be like they were always with me and I would not miss them as much. Geez-Louise was I wrong. I spend 55 hours a week wishing I was home with my family (that’s 8 hour days, unpaid lunches and an hour commute five days a week). My husband gets frustrated that I will switch vehicles in the middle of the week so I do not have to stop on my way to and from work to get gas. The sooner I get to work, the sooner I can come home.

Now here comes a new challenge my good friend just brought to my attention. My son’s preschool class is taking a field trip next Friday and a parent must be present for him to go. In order to ride the bus with him, I must pass a security check at the front office and attend an in-service class before next Friday. Now I have quite a few options here. I could come to work for 10 hours a day for 4 days then on one of those, leave to take the class, come back to work and finish ten hours. Then I would have to come to work after the field trip for how ever many hours I have left to make 40. I could send him with his little friend’s mama (who I am so incredibly thankful for) but it breaks my heart that I cannot be there. Or I could just take time off work and be S-O-L if something comes up that I HAVE to take time off for.

There have been a couple of times when I have surprised him and picked him up from school. The teachers are also surprised and make a big deal that I am there. But nothing beats my son screaming “MOMMY!!” at the top of his lungs and running to me. He hugs me and says “I’m so happy to see you.” It melts my heart.

Then there is my little Miss. In the morning for her last feeding before I get ready for work, I lay her in my bed and kiss her face at least a million times. Somehow she does not wake up, but some times she does. Then she smiles and coos and I hit snooze five times before giving her her favorite toy so she does not wake her daddy. By the time I finish getting ready and go back to check on her, she is sound asleep. Then I work all day and see her two or three hours before she’s asleep for the night. It almost does not bother me that she wakes up every two hours after midnight to eat. I spend that extra time with her even if it means an extra coffee at work.

On the weekends, I do not want to do a thing. I do not want to grocery shop. I do not want to play date. I don’t even want to really get dressed. Just stay in my night gown all day and nurse my little girl. I never pump milk on the weekends. It just takes away time with her. My son is so smart and loves to draw. Right now his favorite thing to draw is the GhostBuster’s Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, ghosts, and GhostBusters saving the day with their proton packs and traps. He’s so funny and creative.

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Something Strange In the Neighborhood…

 

So I come to work and surround myself with everything I love…

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New Born Pictures Above My Phone

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Photo Collage and the Most Adorable Screen Wallpaper EVER

 

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And Much Much More

This week I have decided two things. I either need to 1. Keep writing as much as I can everyday so that one day I might be able to hang out with the people I love most in the world. Or 2. Take some of these things down and focus more on the practical things in life like work and paying bills and giving my children every opportunity I never had growing up. I should be thankful that I have the luxury to work and actually miss my children. I’m lucky to have a network of other moms that support me and help me raise my children. You know who you are. I’m not a mushy person, but I love you ladies.

My internal need to stay busy, constantly engaged, and support my family is definitely the winner of my life right now. I don’t necessarily resent it, but it is hard. I hate leaving the house to go anywhere without my kids, even if it’s far easier to leave them home with my husband. I know the grass is always greener. I know I would hate being a stay at home mom and begin to look for things to fill my day possibly away from my kids. But today, right now. There is definitely somewhere I’d rather be…

*turns off the F@#% You machine*