kids, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, moving on, moving out, sorrow, Uncategorized

A Child’s Hand

What is it about a little child, a little hand, that is so soothing.  It isn’t a big strong hand.  It holds no promise of protection or guidance.  It isn’t a hand that will hold you forever in its palm.  It will leave you as small hands always must do.  It is small and light, yet there is still something that is so soothing about its touch.  It is a knowing touch even if it knows nothing about your sorrow.

This morning was a difficult morning, full of change and new routines.  In short it hurt, all of us.  It was empty and quiet.  There was no rush to separate and live independently for those school hours.  We wanted to stay together and just love.  The fighting and sibling jabs that normally mark our mornings were gone.  They just knew that they needed to love each other and be there, even if they were all going to different places for the day.

I struggled to maintain composure and fulfill those morning activities that needed to be done for the kids.  They need me no matter my state. They needed breakfast, real breakfast, not just a quickly thrown together bowl of cereal slid across the table.  They needed sustenance, eggs, toast, fruit.  They needed lunches packed and water bottles filled.  Yes, this morning, even WANTS were NEEDS.  They needed me to give them reassuring looks and tons of love and smiles, even if the smiles hurt so badly.  That is what they need today and always as we navigate this unknown.  They need to hear and see that things will be OK.  They need to understand that we cannot know what will come but no matter what, it will be OK.

It feels like a lie.  At this time, the unknown is scary, even if I have to tell them that wonderful things lie in our future, our OK future.  Fake it until you make it, right. I keep thinking that if I say it enough, that it will magically come true, that wonderful things are to come.

As I finally got them out the door with smiles and waves, I broke.  Waterfalls of tears and held back pain.  I am really good at pasting on a smile when I am out in the world interacting with people.  I can hide it from others, but in my household world, that smile is tougher to find.  I try to hide my pain from The Littles.  They also need to know that things will be OK even if they don’t understand the magnitude of this morning and the eerie silence.  They still can laugh and joke around with each other.  They can play with abandon and enjoy each moment of this new day.  Well, today, of all days when I needed to show them how OK things are, I couldn’t hide it any longer.  It was there.  I feel guilt for that, but there it is.  When you just can’t fake it anymore, you just can’t fake it.

Piper in all her sassiness, who struggles to not have attitude when talking to anyone, climbed up in my lap and took my hand.  She rested her head on my shoulder and stayed there.  No wiggles.  No eager body that wanted to move and get back to play.  Her little hand calmed me instantly, so small.  It knew nothing of the pain but knew that it needed to be there.  It only wanted to comfort.  For all of their oblivious behavior, they do know.  They sense our strength and they know our weakness.  They understand in their own way, that we are human.  They seem to lose this as they age, but for these precious years, they know. See in a child’s bubble, everything will be OK.  It has to.  Each day is a new wonderful experience to look forward to and not fear.  That little hand holds so much promise that you can’t not think that tomorrow will be better and that the future will hold wonderful things.  The kitchen may be a mess and the future may be completely unknown, but somehow, it will contain unknown wonderful things.  I have to trust in that child’s love and excitement.  Things will be OK, no matter where they take me.

crazy morning, kids, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, Uncategorized

The Morning Butler

Some weeks are tough to find a moment of mindfulness and I am back to my old tricks of anticipating the very next disaster and need.  Naughty Mommy.  It sends me into a nasty tail spin and never seems to end up with a good result.  Well, it was one of those mornings today.  Ugh.  Hate that.  The mornings where you feel like there are so many requests that you wish you could clone yourself.

With five kids, everyone seems to want things, especially first thing in the morning.  We are talking 6am here, people.  Its still dark out.  I have been up since 5:30 to shower and put on clothes, because lets face it, if I don’t it will be a yoga pant day and I will not shower.  Not the rut I need to be in.

Now, wanting things and needing things are two entirely different situations which kids, bless their little naive hearts, do not seem to comprehend.  I fulfill wants and, I have to admit as an enabler in the situation, I fulfill most needs.  Shame on me.

Actual morning conversation with Taylor:

Taylor: “Mom, I need you to curl my pony tail.  I made it really high today to look like MaryEllen.”

Well, being the nutty person that I am, I briefly thought about how I was going to juggle the rest of the morning rush AND figure out how to curl her pony tail, which of course, would have to be perfect.  Enter a moment of clarity…

Me: “Needs are things you NEED to survive, Taylor. Having me curl your pony tail so that it looks like your American Girl Doll who represents the 50s is not one of those things. You do not need to have it done.  You want to have it done.  Wants are things that you don’t have to have to survive.”

Seriously, the look on her face was priceless.  Confusion was plastered there.

The wants of so many kids can be overwhelming in the morning.  I am sure it is a race for many Moms and Dads to deal with it.  It is stressful and tiring.  With five kids, its like taking on the Ironman, except not in Hawaii, on an empty stomach after swimming to the island from California.

Conor is first out the door, and like a first born, he is a stress case but gets all his morning crap done, relatively quickly and of course perfectly.  I admit that getting him to brush his teeth seems to not be a priority for him, but I have to let that one go in order to survive my morning. He eats while walking to school and his lunch is all set up for him to pack.  (Yes, I pack lunches.  No, not at night.  By the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is pack lunch.  I used to have them pack, but lets face it, I can’t have them packing only  chips and cookies.) I guess he has figured that if he really wants to only give himself twenty minutes to get out the door in order to sleep in, he needs to move fast.  Bless this child who really asks for nothing, except for a hug and snuggle, which I am always happy to give.

Maddy is happy and relaxed every time she strolls down the stairs, thumb in mouth and monkey happily rubbing against her nose.  She waits patiently at the table for breakfast.  She is a ticking time bomb. It is after that that things start to get complicated.  She is IMPOSSIBLE to get up the stairs to get dressed.  She has a favorite chair that she sits and watches the commotion going on around her.  I guess its like watching a train wreck, so I can’t necessarily fault her.  By the time I get her upstairs, picking clothes is a disaster.  Not those pants.  They don’t feel right.  Those pants are too hot.  Those pants aren’t sporty enough.  Ugh!  Put on the freaking clothes and lets go.  This often breaks down to me threatening to take some activity away if she doesn’t get dressed.

Bro and Piper are small, I get that, but the morning WANTS are huge.  “I want toast” in the most ear splitting whine you have ever heard.  Enter image of me putting toast in.  Wrong jam.  I want strawberry, not grape.  I don’t want toast.  Can I have oatmeal?  I want oatmeal.”  I make the oatmeal.  Oatmeal sits on the table, uneaten for two hours and then gets tossed.  9:00 am rolls around.  “I’m hungry.”  As for NEEDS, Brody is potty training.  When he says he needs to go… you go, or have to fix the mess, which quite honestly sets me back in time.  To the point where I sometimes think I might just throw him back in diapers and potty train him at six.  Potty must be dumped, washed, disinfected.  Hands must be washed.  Piper wants to follow.  I need to walk her to the bathroom, watch her get on the toilet and then stand outside the closed door until she screams to have me “WIPE MY VAGINA!”

Tay is a walking disaster.  She comes down confused and disoriented, like a bear coming out of its cave after 4 months of hibernating.  The blessing is that she gets herself dressed before she enters the kitchen, although I am highly suspicious of whether her underwear gets changed.  Good thing she showers at night.  I know she changes it then.  She fumbles through breakfast and then doesn’t seem to move from the table, oblivious to the ticking clock.  She has to be directed through the entire morning process.  AAAHHH! Even then, after she walks out the door, she leaves a mess in her wake.  We call it the Taylor Bomb.  It is well known in this house.  Coats and hats are every where and her homework, which I swear we put in her binder the night before is on the table.

IF you have made it this far through this post, you will want a payoff for it…

Well, here it is.

I hear Maddy and Taylor on the porch this morning.  They are both finding coats and shoes.  “Mommy, I CAN’T find my shoes!  I NEED you to find them!!!” Taylor responds, “Maddy, she isn’t your butler and you don’t NEED to have her find your shoes.  You WANT her to.  You will survive.  Now, find them yourself.”

There it is.  Bliss.  Moment of silence for someone sticking up for me and my plight.  I have gotten through to her and hopefully Maddy, too. I have done something right in this morning of disaster.  The rest of my life will be carefree and glorious.  My children will now be the picture of independence.  I smile.  Someone throw me a party.  Calm rolls over me. Can you feel my happiness?

Well, it was nice, but reality had to step back in.  “MOM, I NEED YOU TO FILL UP MY WATER BOTTLE AND PUT IN MY BOW!” Oh, well.  I had that one moment.


aging, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, Uncategorized

It’s Time

Everyday and night at 38 years, I look in the mirror. I lean in really close, so close that my breath will often fog the mirror. Its like I’m tricking myself by thinking that if I don’t lean in, I won’t see the crows feet and fine lines starting all around my mouth, and closely inspect what time is giving me.

The game went up a notch when I bought the high magnification mirror for my bathroom countertop, so pretty with its shiny stainless base and flip mirror to increase the amount of magnification.

On close inspection, you can notice so much.

I have a distinct memory from my childhood that is burned in my brain.  My 5-year old, curly pig-tail clad cousin, Courtney (lovingly dubbed CoCo by Conor… short for Cousin Courtney) was next to me in the car, doing my mother’s hair, who was in the front seat. Of course, we weren’t strapped.  Who really was in the early 80s.  She proceeded to tell my mother that she was getting a mustache on her lip.  Oh, I remember the look on my mother’s face.  First, the shock at the comment and then the embarrassment as she inspected in the visor mirror, rubbing down her skin.  Even at 9, I could recognize the change in my mother’s face and knew that that comment struck a nerve that was not comfortable for her.  A week later, she returned home with the tell-tale red lip of waxing.


Kids say the darnedest things, right.  Well, when it is about you, the darnedest things sometimes do hit that nerve.  This very morning as we enjoyed a cuddle on a chair in the sun, Piper, my four year old, who, bless her heart, caresses my face and always tells me how much she loves me, stopped mid caress and said, “You have fur on your face, Mommy. It’s everywhere.” She then proceeded to point out all the areas that were fuzzy.  Enter image of a soft fuzzy animal at the zoo.

Yes, my face has peach fuzz like a 14 year old pre-pubescent boy.  It is there and yes, it is soft.  She is not wrong in that statement… but really, it is everywhere, soft and plush.  What was God’s plan for this evolutionary downfall.  Keep my aging body warmer in the winter?! I have heat in my house!  I’ll throw on extra layers!  Please don’t let me fur up!

The worst, though, are the hairs that are now starting to spring up on my chin and on my neck.  Where do they come from?! Long, course, and black and slightly curly. They have been dubbed Hag Hairs by Dawn Fall (who if you want the best skin lady on the face of the earth… she is right here in Hopkinton, MA).  These hairs should only be on certain parts of my body that are never seen by the light of day. They scare the crap out of me. Will I have a full beard at some point?! Will I be that lady that the kids point at in the grocery store, the one with the course mustache? She clearly has not been told that her Hag Hairs are getting quite long and thick… Who wouldn’t tell their loved one about this situation is beyond me! No, I am not that lady yet, right!?

I have developed a sick fascination with plucking them though. Admit it, we all do. Its like we are giving the finger to Mother Nature and saying, “You thought you could get that one by me! Oh, no… not that one!!”  I used to keep a pair of tweezers in my car that would come out at stop lights.  After all, that visor mirror, all lit up, does not hold back upon inspection.  Oh, the blessed glory of plucking a found hair after rubbing down my chin and neck.  Well, that wonderful habit stopped one day when I was gloriously plucking and inspecting when I looked over and saw a teenage boy driver looking over at me with a mix of horror and disdain on his face… the tweezers no longer reside in my car.

So how to take care of this hairy situation. They aren’t something that I acquired from a life well lived. They are an unfortunate part of the aging process, right?! I fear the grocery lady. I fear her mustache, that mustache that would grow on my face, one thick black hair at a time. I fear the fuzz, soft as it is.  I don’t want to be a furry puppy with whiskers.  Not quite as cute on a 38 year old woman.

I think the first part is accepting that I am aging (sometimes not so gracefully) and that aging isn’t so bad! I need to learn to wear my face, something that I am not sure that I ever learned how to do. It was always a mask of sorts. So, here I am saying it to the world, “I’M GETTING OLDER!” Done.

My Mom gave birth to me.  I was her miracle.  Her only baby and as precious to her as my sweet babes are to me.  My face wears the years of smiles and tears, the anger and the joy.  My face, aging or not, is intrinsically a part of me.  It will be what my children will always remember me when age takes me.  I need to own this mug, hair and all, as my mother did many years ago.  She looked in that mirror and didn’t hold any resentment for that face.  She was prepared to make the adjustments needed.

My mother never did get to age much further than her red lip.  She passed away at 50 and never did really age.  In my mind she has been frozen in time in a youthful beauty. I am sure, she had her gray hair moments.  Her chin hairs and peach fuzz probably bothered her, but that blessed face was mine.  It was hers, but it was also mine.  Aging could never have changed that.  Many things about her body have been forgotten, but her face stayed and will continue to stay in my mind forever.  She thought of each month, each day, as a gift.

Well, its time to focus on my adjustments and hair removal. I need to step up my game as my mother did 30 years ago. I am mortified about the thought of walking around in public with that red mark of age on my top of my lip and chin.  But then, I remove hair from so many other parts of my body that why would my chin be any different. Yes, waxing it is… I am probably going to have to spend hours on Dawn’s table removing so many tufts of pre-pubescent peach fuzz from my face, but at least I will get some relaxing ocean sounds and a great massage while there.  Some fantastic alone time. Ah, the silver lining.

Inevitably, though, I need to embrace whatever God is going to throw my way.  I need to own it and be amazed by what I have been given.  Years will pass.  I will age.  But really age is a blessing.  It is a gift that I have taken for granted.  I am lucky to be given each year.  I will continue to look in that mirror.  I need to lovingly take care of that face.  I will continue to inspect.  But, from now on, I am going to think about the love that I need to have for that visage.

I think that the tweezers will probably head back to the car.  So what if that boy or anyone looks at me.  Without fuzz, I will find satisfaction in the plucking.  Why not!  I earned this hairs with age, the beautiful gift of age.  If you see me with a red lip, you know what has happened.  If you pull up at a stop light and see me lost in the removal process, know that I am enjoying that moment.  Know that I am happy to have something glorious to do with my age and something terribly joyful to do at that stop light!



So Now What

It’s been a long road.  So many wonderful things have dotted my life, namely 5 amazing children.  I have been truly blessed.  My life has also been full by dribs and drabs, of silly yuck that can all get filed away with unfortunate times.  I have been pockmarked by some large events that have shaped me in so many ways.  The passing of my mother at an early age, the presence of addiction in my loved ones, financial hardship and separation.

God has brought me to a point in my life where the world seems almost unbearable on days, but I am in healing mode.  I think of myself as many things, but right now, I am in pieces.  My Memere had a truly ugly vase that was covered in gold decoration that she kept next to a well traveled doorway on a marble pedestal.  I used to cringe bringing the rowdy kids to her house, always worrying that they would knock the beloved thing over.  I have been that vase, fragile and full of sadness that I kept hidden away.  I have always been worried that it would be knocked over and break.  Well, the vase on the marble pedestal, me, has been knocked over.  I am in pieces.  Now that my shards are exposed and no longer hidden by the ideal look of normalcy in my life, I am finding that there is a chance to put me back together in a way that is new and authentic, and full of love, for myself and for the gifts that I have been given.  Perhaps, I am going to be what God has always wanted for me and this long journey here has been the experience that I need to build a beautiful butterfly.  My new mantra is “with brave wings, she flies” because I am ready to fly.  I am ready to transform and bravely move into the next phase of my life.  I will always be mother, but the other parts of me need to be found.

There is a lonely center to me, with many origins but namely a devastating lack of intimacy,  that will never heal if I don’t learn to live in the “alone”.  In living alone, I want to find myself.  I want to figure out what my “core values” are and follow that path that has already been laid out for me, one that I have stubbornly refused to follow.

So how to live alone… I will say that right now, it is painful.  I cry. I weep. I scream into pillows and lay awake at night mourning loss of all that I have known, a marriage of 13 years. It can be unbearable and my only relief has been Joga, a hot yoga class taught by Joe (get it… Joga…).  It is 106 degrees with 60% humidity in that stuffy room.  In yoga I have been able to spend time living in the moment and focusing on myself and my own body.  You have to, or quite honestly, you will fall down and not be able to finish.  All the other crap of life, during that time, slips away and I am free of all the thoughts that chase me.

It is through yoga that I think I have found a path.  A path to finding myself and getting through “the alone”.  I need to find a way to live in the moment.  I am always planning and dreaming and expecting the worst and anticipating the every move of everyone.  It is exhausting.  It is truly impossible for me to think about the present moment, my own breathing and the simple things.

I am going to try to live in the moment through this blog.  I want to share the tidbits of my life that are everyday, the mundane, the silly and the common, from my own point of view.  During my everyday, I will be present because I will think, these are the simple moments I want to share.  In this way, while working on these posts, I will spend time thinking of the now.  It won’t be deep, I promise.  It will probably be amusing and light hearted because thats what single small moments are.

Alright, here I go.  Life, in all its goodness, is waiting for me.  With brave wings, I will fly.