cancer, death, finding myself, kids, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, mother, mother loss, Mother's Day, pain, Uncategorized

A Motherless Daughter on Mother’s Day

People always say… you can put this behind you and you can move on to something better. Well, what happens when you just can’t? I mean, what happens when you slowly stop thinking about it and then you can’t remember when the last time you heard it… but it then comes back full on haunting you, at least for one day. There is a legacy to these things that stays with you for a long time, maybe forever… It bubbles up. It revisits you like a dream that continually reoccurs until it is just knit into who you are. You expect it and embrace it.

Whether I can put “all this” behind me remains to be seen, what is fact is that “all that” from the past keeps haunting me. I mean, days like Mother’s Day come and draw me into the past. It is without fail that I am thrown back to so many things. No matter how many breakfasts in bed or smudgy Mother’s Day cards I get, will never push it out of front and center on Mother’s Day. It makes me realize that there is so much that I have never dealt with. Never dealt with feels of loss and abandonment that sting and hurt and seriously won’t go away. I hope that at some point they can meld into just who I am, become just a stitch, and not be the entire fabric of my life.

I have never made it a secret with you all how tough things have been lately. I have made it no secret that life before “all this” was sometimes very difficult. Maybe today, the day that always haunts me, is the day that I put it out on the table and make it more real than it ever has been. By sharing it, maybe I can finally accept and let all the good memories back in, instead of those that haunt. In getting ready to write this, I can feel my mother wrapping her arms around my shoulders from behind. A bear hug that I always “know” as her being there, that she is pushing me forward into this thing… so here I go.

I have so many memories of my mother. So many wonderful memories, that always get over shadowed by the others. I am going to give you “another” in hopes that it will truly fade away, so that I can love other Mother’s Days and not dread them like I do.

My mother valiantly fought cancer for just over ten months. I remember strength from her. I remember her beauty and who she was, but what I most remember are moments from the last days of her life. Quite sad if you really think about it. She had her whole lifetime, almost half of mine, at that point, and I remember the sad and terrible parts.

In my Mother’s last few days, she was in the hospital under the direction of doctor’s to mediate her pain with morphine. It was no secret that she was not going to leave the hospital. Perhaps at the time, I didn’t totally believe it. I was living in hospital scrubs because there was no going back to the house. I guess it never truly sunk in that it was because there was a moment that was coming that I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t miss.

My mom had been lying in bed for days. Days of quiet that was not like her. She talked. She laughed. She lit up the room. Now she was the center, but really just an accessory around all of us. It is in these moments that my memory always drifts on Mother’s Day.

My Mom’s face was ashen and her mouth hung open. She didn’t look like herself. I couldn’t stand another minute looking at her. I needed her makeup. When I had packed a bag for her… I packed her makeup bag. She would have never have left the house without lipstick or blush.

It wasn’t even an option of whether I would make up her face. She would have wanted it that way.  I carefully applied her makeup as she would have wanted it. To give her the dignity that she deserved.

She was less ashen after, but the pallid color of her skin still came through. It was a mask of what was going on. It wasn’t until days later when the makeup had started to fade that the mask would come off.

She hadn’t responded to talk for days. No squeeze of the hand, no blinks, nothing. Her body was giving out.

I had taken to calling her “Mama” which was odd. I had never used that name for her. I had talked and talked to her with no response, but with Mama at the beginning of each sentence. Maybe it was because the mask was starting to slip off and to me, she was started to look and act like another person.

Her lips were so dry. They were cracked. They looked so sore. We had been directed by the hospital staff to use these sponges on long sticks to wet her lips, to wet her mouth that had long since dried out from breathing for days straight like that.

I dipped the swab into the small paper cup full of water. When I pulled it out the sponge at the tip was soaked through and dripped back into the cup with the excess. I squeezed a bit out with my fingertips. No worry about germs. It wouldn’t matter. Every time I squeeze the suds from my sponge in my own sink while doing dishes, I remember this moment.

There were others around us, but for me, it was like I was in a vortex and nothing else existed but me and that instant. I wiped around her lips and started for the inside of her mouth. In that moment she closed her mouth and swallowed. The struggle of it was so painful to see. No! She was strong! She was a rock! She couldn’t be working so hard to do something so small as to swallow.

To see her lifeless body perform a basic task made me know she was still in there.   The sadness I felt wasn’t from the fact that it was so hard for her to do such a thing though. It was because she was still in there. She was holding on. She hadn’t totally given up. In her last days, she was holding on because we hadn’t asked her to let go. I hadn’t asked her.

That’s what moms do. They never give up. They never stop until their kids ask them to stop. They do what’s best even if it is excruciatingly hard.

I did finally ask her to let go. “Mama, it’s ok. You can go. Please just let go. We will be ok. I will be ok.” She did. She let go in the early hours of the next morning.

That’s why Mother’s Day is so hard for me. I see that moment all day every Mother’s Day, every day. I don’t think back to her last moments on this Earth, but I do remember that moment.

It doesn’t matter if I am a good mom. It doesn’t matter that I won’t let go until they ask me to. All that matters for me on Mother’s Day, is that she wouldn’t. I had that. What I still need to remember though is that the bear hugs that I feel mean that she still won’t ever totally let go. Ever. She will always be here. Holding me. Loving me. Pushing me forward through every moment. Supporting me in those really tough ones and enjoying the really good ones. There will be really good ones. She will be there.

Maybe that moment is meant to stick to me. Maybe I need to look at it in a new light to move on from it. I will always be there for my children and she will always be there for me. That is what I need to celebrate on this day. The reality of that. Maybe then I can enjoy the runny eggs and wilted flowers..

 

 

finding myself, home, kids, mindfulness, moving on, self worth, sticky floors, Uncategorized

Moms Have Messy Floors and Messy Lives

My house is a constantly evolving mess. It’s everywhere. My kids have numerous chores that they begrudgingly do, but it is still a hot mess.

Class papers threaten to multiply and take over every flat surface in my house (I attempt to combine them so that there is only one large stack every couple of hours). There are dirty socks that coat my floors, stripped off in sock balls and thrown down wherever they are taken off. Cups half full of water sit everywhere in my house, making me wonder how many each child uses a day. Toilet seats always sport sprinkles and there is never a day where gloops of toothpaste aren’t cemented to each sink throughout the house. Dirty dishes? I’ve got them ten fold, even after we have mostly switched to paper plates!

Some days, I tackle the clutter but then the underlying dirtiness shines through. There is insidious dirt that lives at my sliding door, dragged in from the outside, deposited on the hardwoods and then spread by stocking feet throughout the house. One minute vacuumed, the next a hopeless of mess of backyard debris. The slider is our link to the backyard, even though I had another door installed off the mudroom with the intention of it being the outside egress, the slider gets all the attention.

It’s a constant battle with nature, the tendency for things to go towards chaos. The threatening of nature always trying to return to its primitive state.

Maybe this is why I watch so many home improvement shows with there updated and serene spaces. I understand that they are “made for TV” houses. That fact is not lost on me. They are completely staged. Once the show is over, the furniture and nick nacks are removed and the families move in, their mismatched possessions take over and from there disorder ensues. There is something about those houses, though, that is so clean and stripped of mess, with so much promise for an ordered life. I can just imagine what it would be like to live in those spaces, anxiety and stress lowered.

My house is a tragic mess lately. Two months ago, I switched our house cleaners from every other week to once a month. Last month, I stopped the cleaners all together. Quite honestly, cleaners are expensive and they were just too much for my budget. Imagine cleaning your house but then multiply the number of people in your house by two to three, add one shedding dog and any number of child playmates. At any time, our small house could be harboring 5-9 kids, all with their own appropriate age toy mess and food crumbs. The sheer number of kids and friends is something that I would never want to give up. Don’t get me wrong, I love their craziness. Cleaning up after kids though, is a full time job. Cleaning up after all of my kids is a high paced marathon with absolutely no finish line. Someone once said that cleaning with kids is like trying to “brush your teeth while eating an Oreo.” So true.

Lately, it seems like I am trying even harder, but still getting nowhere in the battle.   My home reflects my state of mind. Right now, my house is out of control and a mess, just like my life. It’s like a tornado and it sucks to live in it. I can fix it up with the illusion of “put away-ness”, but if you look closely, stuff is hidden in dark closets here, always ready to spill out.

This morning as I was cleaning up my umpteenth dirty dock I got to thinking about the sayings “Excuse the mess. My children are making memories” and my other favorite, “Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens and happy kids”. I think that I use these sayings as a scapegoat for my inability to keep a tidy house. First and foremost though, let me get this straight with all of you… I have never had a clean oven. Let’s get that out of the way before I continue. That would be a monumental effort that I am certain I will never get too. My oven regularly sets off the fire alarm with the amount of burn off smoke. True, I have sticky floors because I have so many kids and I just can’t get it all done. Kids spill and in my case, stick stickers to the floor. My kitchen is always messy because I am constantly cycling through meals so that breakfast dishes always get pushed to lunch meal cleanup and then often stretching out until dinner pickup.  It makes me wonder why the open floor plan was such a great… It’s open and people can see the dirty dishes! The piles of laundry are a consequence of at least twelve outfits a day being stripped off onto the floor. Sometimes, I feel like I have become the Old Lady Who Lived In a Shoe. She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do.

I hope that I am really not the only one who hides piles of stuff and that we all have sticky floors because we are just really messy. If not, I am pulling out a skeleton in the closet that I am just dirty. I’m guessing, although I can’t be sure, that we are all in the same boat. So why do we stress about getting it clean??!! Why does an unexpected ringing of the door bell strike fear in my heart?

June Cleaver always seemed to have such a clean house. She found time, when not preparing the perfect meal, to sit and enjoy a book (not a trashy tabloid) in a nice armchair with her ankles crossed. She always had on her adorable dress, neatly pressed, and heals, swathed in a lovely apron. The door bell would ring and she would strip out of that apron, poof her perfectly done hair and answer the door with a smile, always ready to bring out a hospitable tray with refreshments. If there was such a thing as a messy bun and yoga pants, do you think that she really would have worn them?!

Ready for this statement though? It might shatter your reality.  Is it possible that it’s all an illusion.  An illusion we (women), buy into even if it’s at an unconscious level? Is it even possible to attain that picturesque life? Maybe I am perpetuating the myth to my children that women can keep a clean house and teach my kids to read before they are two. Can I really always look perfectly put together and never get frazzled? Will my children feel the same when they are grown?

I can get over the not-so perfect clothing I choose or the dust bunnies that are getting bigger each day. My biggest issue is whether my kids are actually happy and if we are making any memories other than them watching TV and doing homework. I wield TV like a treat, an expert babysitter. When not cleaning, I am driving them to their seventeen activities each afternoon and evening? What happened to family board game night and playing pass in the yard? Sometimes, we get outside and they ride bikes or draw with chalk. More likely than not, if I am “participating” in any of these activities, it is in a chair with a glass of wine in my hands, pretending to watch them.  True, I had five kids and this is what I signed up for, but does that mean that I am still working towards making them happy or providing a clean organized house?

I feel guilty that I am not making those great memories with them. Their lives are not easy these days. Try as I might, to shield them from high emotions and changes, they are just as scared of the unknown as I am. I want to give them the order of a tidy house that I/they need to lower their anxiety levels. I want them to feel like even though the world is spinning out of control, at least they have a clean place to live and a pair of beloved pants in the drawer.  Is this what they really need, now or ever? I am wondering if providing this life for them is coming at the cost of not making memories that involve great times with mom.

Maybe cleaning has become just a scapegoat for not spending time, too. There are days when I am so sad or angry that I just don’t want to play. I want to hide at the kitchen sink and wash endless amounts of dishes so that I don’t have to have to play another round of imaginary doctor. “Please play with me?” “Not now, Brody, I have to finish the laundry.” Isn’t this selfish? A big chunk of me feels it is.

I think it really all comes back to the fact that I am beating myself up for not living up to all that I feel like I should be, something I have always done but now in increasing levels since my separation. Weighing on my mind… my marriage is a big fail, so I am a big fail. Not only am I not keeping up in the marriage department, but I am failing on the mom and house cleaning level. I am just failing.

Somebody let me off the hook! Give me the magic pill to take the guilt away and let me realize that, just maybe, I am good enough just the way that I am. Tell me that I am doing the best that I can with the circumstances being what they are. Tell me that someday it will get better, easier. Would hearing it all from you make me feel any better? Probably not.  Sorry.

In reality, all that really needs to happen, is that I need to let myself off the hook.  The biggest problem in this situation is that I am searching for the validation from a place that I really shouldn’t be looking for it, everyone else. Validation needs to lie in me, a belief about myself. It’s all about self worth. Well, there it is. Maybe that is why I am finding peace and relief in this blog. It is making me feel like I can share and be okay with who I am and how I think. I’m out there and people aren’t judging me harshly (at least not to my face) for what I am writing. It’s helping me gain that worth in myself that I really feel like I have always been missing.

In the end, I need to realize that I am doing the best that I can, in this moment. That maybe tomorrow, things will be cleaner and I will find that time to fit in that board game… and just maybe, I need to find a way to get a larger junk closet to hide all the mess!

betrayal, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, pain, Uncategorized

People Always Ask

People always ask,

“How are you doing?”

It’s a tough one for me to answer.

People want to hear how you are doing, but the real answer is often too awkward to hear. They care. I get it. They want to know how to help. I get that too. People feel helpless when they can’t help someone through a difficult time. But the true answers would make both of us uncomfortable. Me admitting that things aren’t great and that moment, well… what do they say…

It puts me in a strange position. I want to answer people with what they want to hear. I want to take away their discomfort with the situation. “I’m great”. Or, my new favorite, because it shows forward progress, “I’m getting better”.   I want to tell people, that I am immensely better. That my world has rightened itself. That the sun came out and I ran through a field of daisies and spun around in the sun.   In fact, a big part of me wishes that those words were true, that they were my reality. But they are not.

The real answer would be, “Sh*tty” but does anyone really want to hear that answer?

Truthfully, every day is an extreme struggle to perform the most basic tasks. The bottom of the pain seems endless. It claws at me at all the wrong times and hides when I have the moments to succumb to it. It feels like I am steadily drowning in murky water and I can’t see the surface. How would everyone feel if I told them that terrible truth. I feel like I need to sneak away to have these tough feelings because of other people’s discomfort.

I am fearful to proceed with this, but I am reminded that when you feel fear, it is a sign that you are about to do something brave. I am about to be brave, but it is truly a façade because I know fewer people will read this week. Marathon Monday. Easter. April vacation. I am banking that people aren’t on facebook, aren’t trolling blog sites.

How can I describe it? I want to tell people how I am feeling. After all, isn’t that what this blog is supposed to help me do? To open up? So here we go. People ask and if they want to know, this is the best answer I can give. It is like this…

 

I am deep in an ocean. So very deep.

It’s a hot day at the beach where soda cans, once cold, hold condensation that drips down then wets the sand where they are embedded. The noonday sun beats down on my skin as I sit in the beach chair, eyes trained on child movements in five different locations across the beach. Watching for the strangers. Watching for extra pink skin and the need for the sunblock reapplication. Watching the swimmers. Making sure no one is being pulled under, stung by a jelly fish, hit with a boogie board. Unofficial lifeguard that I am at the beach, but really no matter where I am, I always guard. I watch them. I protect them. Mother bears watch their cubs.

The sun burns my skin. It is first warm, but then burning. knees are first hot. Hotter. Blazing hot. Then the sting. I can feel the burn. I should have put on that protective blanket of sunblock but it’s now too late. The burn is there. I have to dunk in the waves. I hate the idea of swimming in the ocean.  The ocean, is full of the unknown. I much prefer the predictability of the pool.  There is no choice though. I have to find some relief in the cold water. It is calling to me.

I feel the splash of water from the kids who play around me. It is freezing and almost unbearable. I shrink from it, taking a couple of steps back up the beach. It is hot on the beach though. Too hot and I know I have no choice but to head in the water. The water rushes over my feet and it is shocking but after it rolls over me a couple of times, it is painful but cooling. I have to explore it. I know that no matter how bad it is, I have to go into it. I tentatively take steps in. The waves become rougher and I can feel the undercurrent pulling on my legs as the water recedes back home. I resist the pull, but it is strong. Stuck in my dug in spot in the sand, yet being yanked towards the darkness. The water swirls around me and the waves fall on my legs, pushing me back as much as the tide is pulling me out. It is a fight to stay standing. I want to run back out. I want to get out of this situation. I want to sit on the beach even though the sun is blistering my shoulders, my knees are flaming red from the heat. The peace that I feel in my chair isn’t real. My body rages a war against the sun.   It is a quiet pain though. Sure I will feel the sting later but for now, I can handle it. One that I can endure. The water is pulling me today. I have to be in it. I have to release it all even though it is threatening to consume me, body, mind and soul. I have to give up my guarding and pray for someone else to watch my kids while I go out. The memories full of laughter are back on the beach. The fun times of sand castles and play. The memories shared and cherished. The ones in front of me are dark and swirling like the water. Tempting me to forget all the others. The tears, the broken promises. The dreams that were destroyed with only a couple of words and a lifetime of lies. Why are they so enticing? Why do I want to dwell in them? I want to drown in them. The sweet memories pull and call to me but the darkness is too much. Engulfing. I walk forward. I step deeper. I am drawn into the silky darkness.  I can feel the stones under my feet and know that the crabs will nip at my toes. I will feel pain from it all. It will hurt. I will yelp and pull my feet up, but there will always be more underneath that I can never see. More pain. It will come. It is inevitable.

The water is making goose bumps on my flesh and they rise all over my body. Splashing the water on my legs and wiping down my arms eases the cold sting. I slide deeper into the depths. It becomes darker. It pulls more on my legs. Up to my waist, up to my chest. I slip deeper into the water and the pull on my legs increases. The seeping cold on my skin starts to numb all feeling. I can no longer feel the cold. I can no longer feel the stinging heat. The relief is now everywhere. I am baffled by how the dark and the fear have slipped away and all my concern is faced towards the numbing. I no longer fear the crab pinches. I no longer fear the stones tearing at the skin on my feet. I want to dunk my head in it. I want to numb it all over. I want to not feel. I want to not hear the past and all that was special. I want to be engulfed by the dark, the pain, and not feel for a while. I hope that each time that I swim into it, I can come back up and tread water. That is the only way to survive it. I hope that I will always remember to walk back out.

That is my pain, my daily pain. It is a decision each and every day to dip my toes in the well of heart wrenching pain. It overcomes me every time I walk in it. I can choose to ignore it and sit on that beach, but the stings and burns of turning my back on it will be worse later. If I walk deep enough into it, I numb out. It is that consuming.

 

It is a daily struggle that is, for a lack of a better word, sh*tty.

So when you ask how I’m doing out of concern or pleasantry, know that I am going to smile and say “doing better”, but in reality, I’m just a girl at the beach trying to pick between two discomforts, both destined to hurt.

 

bathroom, hygge, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, self love, Uncategorized, woodworking

Bathroom Hygge

I have been on overdrive lately nesting my house… I HAVE to have a hygge feeling when I am in it.  My biggest obsession is creating a complete sanctuary in my bedroom and bathroom.  I need a space to isolate and think about who I am, where I am and where I want to go with my life and my kids.  It is my space, to journal, to read, to binge on inappropriate kid shows (You know the ones… utterly and completely inappropriate for the kids and can only be watched after they head to bed, in the half hour before you pass out!) and, of course, blogging.  I want this space to be so much of a sanctuary, that I have banned jumping on my bed and I have a door knocker on the door.

Three years ago, we added a master bedroom and bathroom. Brody was living in a closet, albeit a small closet with a window, but a closet none the less.  Steve Comolli helped us through it.  He was great and we loved all his subs.  I loved the my new bedroom space.  It was a blank slate for my favorite colors, especially Benjamin Moore, Beach Glass, which I have managed to paint most of the rooms in my house. I had fun picking the tiles and vanity, marble and shower surround.  Being on a budget, I didn’t even look for any upgrades, which was fine.  I am good with tight money.

Now that I am no longer sharing this space, it feels empty and I’m not just talking physically.  I feel like there is no soul in the space.  It feels cold to me and the colors I love no longer make me happy and serene.  I now need a place that literally wraps itself around me when I get into it.  There are no “details” that make my space cozy, just the basics of the basics.  They are utilitarian rooms, places to get stuff done and a place to collapse in bed.  I saved using all those details (and built ins) for the spaces where they would be seen, namely the downstairs.  It is amazing how when it is so quiet in a room, the lack starts to stand out.

Many people in my life are fully aware of me being independent and thinking that I can do many projects myself, even if I tend to imagine things far ahead of my skills.  I have done some.  I built my own patio.  I built Conor’s headboard.  I built a desk out of a salvaged door… I replaced my computer screen…  Truthfully, none of these things came out perfectly… but I did them.  It is a frustrating to me to have someone do the work for me.  I want to learn how to do it all.  Most of the time, I also have confidence in the “pros” at Lowe’s who, as a last ditch effort, can help me through a project.  I always want to try and do the creating, not just the dreaming.  It’s my vision and I want to see it through from beginning to end.  I guess it is a bit of a metaphor for my own life.

My bathroom is the first step in the creation of a sanctuary for me.  I sit on the floor of the shower until the water turns cold, snuggled in a ball in the corner with the water beating down on me.  Sometimes, I forget to wash my hair until the water is icy and then I have to endure the cold, but it’s worth it.  I love to even shower with the lights completely off, although I can’t see and have to feel around for the soap.  I can think there.  I can reflect.  I can melt away into my heart beat and stillness.  The kids know that when mom is taking a shower… back off! It helps that there is a lock on my bedroom and one on the bathroom door.  The banging on the bedroom door is almost imperceptible.  I often play soft new age music, which the kids joke about when it comes on in the car thanks to Bluetooth.  My Mom used to put it on after her most strenuous treatments.  David Lanz was her favorite and I can always see why.  I can float away to it, to another space and time, adding my own fantasized love stories… I am a romantic at heart… Aren’t we all girls, even though we won’t totally admit it because we are sooooo strong…

Stepping out of the shower is a smack in the face.  My bathroom is blank and it feels so cold.  I used to love it, but now I hate it.

I have had my heart set on a board and batten treatment on my bathroom wall since I saw it on Pinterest (the most dangerous place in the whole wide world).  Please see the glorious inspiration below.  Wow!  It looked so simple.  My first thought was “I got this!”.   With only a couple of steps I would have completed an amazing project that would add so much character to my space.

7c2fb8b9f3133a31a7f5171a978db5ff

Bathroom inspiration from LovelyCraftyHome

Looks easy enough, right?

Aaron Deletti , who works for our contractor, was over working on another project in my house that I would never have been able to do myself… I was so excited to share what I was going to do… all by myself…  What did he do?  He laughed.  Yup.  I decided to pursue on.  Aaron, being the good sport that he is, said he would help me lay it out on the wall and give me a list of lumber that I would need.  He would put up the first piece, the horizontal piece, so that he could make sure it was level and then I would be good to go, he said with a laugh.

Fast forward, I bought the lumber and found a time for Aaron to come over and put up that first simple piece of wood.  I think Aaron knew that I was way over my head but he humored me.  Once the first piece was up, I realized that I was WAY over my head.  This was not a small project.  Aaron  was a good sport and showed me, step by step, how to do the project and truthfully, the bathroom would have been a complete disaster if he hadn’t stepped in and pretty much done all the work.  His number is 774-573-8524 if you want him to actually do the project… I don’t think he will ever do another side-by-side with anyone again!

Check out what we/he did… Success, my space is my retreat to melt into when I need it.

img_0779
The Yucky Before – Pretty Boring
IMG_0880
The bathroom after – Glorious

Success.  It looks much more comforting and less cold, but I needed to add some touches to increase the hygge.  Remember the tenants of hygge: living things, things that bring back special memories, candles and items that bring comfort and warmth.

I set out on my journey, which wasn’t hard since I had those special memories locked up in boxes in the basement.  The beach is one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world… even more so than my shower.  Maybe because I spent so much time with my Mom there.  It feels like home and the ocean sounds always make me feel happy.  Happiness is what I need in my life right now.  So any memories that I can conjure up help!  Thus the star fish that I have had stashed in the basement for so many years, waiting for another project that never materialized.

IMG_0877update_edited-1

Next stop, the toilet… why are toilets so ugly, huh?  This one particularly bugs me because it is so off centered.  But I had to spiff it up and soften the edges.  I know, we are all chuckling here.  Succulents are something that my Dad loves.  His house is full of them and every time I see a succulent at Lowe’s I think of him.

IMG_0876update_edited-1

Jen Trendel made these fabulous treatments for me.  I love everything about them.  They are a little bit girly, which I love in my space!

IMG_0884

Finally the vanity… I needed to dress it up.  It has always been so utilitarian and dull.  A place to get the “stuff” done: flossing, brushing, makeup.  The place to transform and put on my happy face, that shell that I am so good at wearing.  I don’t want my spaces to be about covering up anymore.  They need to be about comforting me as I make my transformation into, well… myself, my authentic self.  I have always loved orchids.  This one got a great place and the color makes me think of sunny weather.  (Truthfully, all the plants in this space are fake… I CANNOT keep a houseplant to save my life…)

IMG_0879

My mother always smelled the same.  She smelled of Obsession perfume.  It was part of my earliest memories.  I can remember her coming home from work, late at night, and smelling her.  In the morning, I could never remember her kisses or her pulling up the covers, but I can remember her smell.  It lingered in the room long after I woke up.  This crystal tray was something she found at a flea market.  I had always tucked it away because I thought it was too frilly!  Last but not least, the sand and shells.  I think that they speak for themselves.  My extra addition was a heart shape rock that I found while walking with my kids.  I thought it was a good omen and now I look at it and think about the love that, someday, I hope to feel from another, as well as the special love that my kids gave me that day and all days.

IMG_0882

IMG_0878

Voila! I am in love with my new space.  It is everything that I dreamed of and more.  I think that I have found a spot where I can feel comfort and sanctuary as I work on all the hard things in my life.  It isn’t just utilitarian and it is a symbol of me finding a dream and seeing it through to completion.  I am on a big mission, to identify my own dreams and see them through to fruition and finding an area where I can decompress is a glorious thing for me.  Aaah!  On to the next room.

home, hygge, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, moving on, self love, Uncategorized

Time to Hygge

I’m a nester.  I am constantly updating what’s around me to make it feel more like a home.  Now, before you make that joke about how I have been pregnant for most of my life… so of course, I nest a lot…hear me out.  Nesting is something I love to do, but also something I feel compelled to do.  If I don’t do it, I feel off somehow.  My space feels uncomfortable. Turns out, the Danish have a word not only for the action of nesting, but also the feeling, in a moment of mindfulness, that nesting gives you… Hygge.  Yup, its a word… How do you pronounce it? Good question.  I was completely wrong.  Take a guess… You’re gonna be wrong too… so I will just tell you…It’s Hoo-gah.

What on Earth is hygge you ask yourself?! Well, it is the feeling that one gets from being surrounded by people and things that bring a warm cozy feeling to your heart.  I love that the Danish have a word for all of that.  There are countless articles on how to increase the hygge in your home.  Apparently, hygge is the new feng shui of the house world.

Being alone makes you want to nest.  It makes you want to feel, well, not so alone.  Rooms that once felt crowded now feel tired, cold and… very lifeless.  I find myself wandering through rooms that feel indescribably empty that are filled with special memories that are gone or changed in my mind now.  My home doesn’t feel like home anymore.  Of course, I’m not really “alone” in these rooms.  Gosh, with five kids between the ages of 11 and 3, I AM NEVER ALONE!! I go to the bathroom sometimes, locking the door and pretending I’m “busy”, but instead reading a magazine while sitting on the floor… I digress… Back on track now… Being alone makes you want to surround yourself with beautiful wonderful things that bring warmth to a heart that doesn’t always feel warm and loved.  I want my house to feel like my home.  I NEED SOME HYGGE!!

People ask how I am doing on a pretty regular basis now.  I’m hanging in there is my best answer.  It’s factually true.  I function during the day, but the big secret is that I dread the nights.  There are times where I can’t fall asleep because my mind is so busy working through scenarios for my future or things that have happened in the past.  It is as though movies play through my head and I can’t push the pause button.  I am forced to watch them over and over.  I get frustrated because I can’t sleep, which makes my mind race.  It’s an ugly spiral. There are other nights where sleep overtakes me and I collapse into bed, physically and emotionally exhausted.  I am ready on those nights to feel restored, only to wake four, five, six times for no apparent reason.  My heart is racing and I cannot find sleep again, no matter how hard I try.  When any of this happens and I find myself staring at the walls or the ceiling, the room feels so cold and empty.  That is when I want to feel a little hygge, enough so that I can wrap that hygge around me and fall into a tranquil sleep again.  I think you probably get what I am talking about even if I have used the word hygge too many times and probably at least half of those were incorrect in usage.   I need extra throw blankets and plush down pillows to feel like that warm hug that can sooth even the most broken heart.  I want my space to feel like a winter evening on a couch in Vermont, snow falling outside, large fire in the hand built field stone fireplace as I wear long johns and a Nordic sweater from LLBean, sipping hot cocoa while my old trusty dog sleeps by my feet… OK, that’s a little over the top, but you get the drift.  I want a soothing, calming, warm and inviting place to be.

I have always been a nester.  As a kid, my mother would patiently let me put out the boxes and boxes of Christmas decor.  I can’t say that I would ever let my kids do this… I think my mother was a saint…  I loved doing it and living with all of the Christmas clutter but when it all came down after Christmas, I would cry because the house felt so empty.  What I didn’t know then (because I didn’t know this amazing little word) is that I no longer got that cozy, comfy feeling that my body and soul needed, in short… the hygge was gone.

I would continue to nest all through college and the first years of marriage but pregnancy, well, I became a full blown disaster.  Sonia Cleven, I’m sure, remembers me being in full blown labor, ready to push and planting coral bells in my yard. No joke shovel in hand and dirt smeared all over me.  It was followed by lots of cursing and a mad dash to Boston for delivery.  I ended up delivering Taylor five minutes before I was “technically” admitted to the hospital… all because I HAD TO NEST.  I learned a valuable lesson as they cut my pants off that day… if you take too long to nest and don’t get to the hospital on time, they won’t give you an epidural…

Nesting has turned into a full blown obsession, in part, thanks to my neighbor, Amber Blanchard, who has seduced me into the creation of styling seasons… If you didn’t know, decor has five seasons, Spring, Summer, Fall, Christmas and Winter. Who knew?! You also need to jazz things up for smaller holidays (Valentine’s Day, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, birthdays of all sorts…).  I am not joking.  Sounds silly, right, but man, it’s got me hook line and sinker.  Once I did one season, all the others felt just depressing and dull.  I had to continue! Each season has a concept and theme that fits with the weather.  Thank you so much to Pinterest and Homegoods for helping to make this a full blown addiction.  My wet basement is loaded with throw pillows in every shape and color for every season, hanging in trash bags to keep them safe from the wet floors.  If you didn’t know, you would think that I have body bags hanging from my ceiling!

IMG_0870
The pillow “graveyard” in my basement where I store the many seasons of throw pillows.  This is but half of the pillow collection.

I’ve got the buying and decorating thing down.  I can create cozy, fashionable spaces.  Truthfully, it does help with some of the feelings of loneliness.  I have added some cushy stuff to most of my spaces, but somehow things still do not feel hygge enough for me.  See, I am only nesting.  Every room still feels very empty of feeling but stuffed with stuff.  I need more.  See, hygge isn’t just about putting throw blankets and pillows in every space… if it was, I would have more hygge than I would know what to do with…

One of the biggest tenants of hygge is that your spaces need to contain things that you love, and only things that you love.  Anything that isn’t useful or carrying warm sentiment should be removed from your space.  Everyone has that crap in their spaces, that was maybe given to them but they really don’t like.  You don’t want to throw it out because A)Your great aunt Dorothy would be so sad it wasn’t on the shelf when she visits every five years or B)It’s good stuff and you can’t part with it… It is time to purge, people! I have been purging lot’s lately.  The VVA could open an entire store with the amount of stuff they have picked up.  I don’t need it.  Someone else does.  All that clutter was taking up too much space in my crazy life.  The reward has been two fold! Someone who needs my stuff is getting it and this makes my heart feel full from giving it away. But the biggest benefit, there are now spaces to put the things that really do matter to me.  I can dig deep in the basement water logged boxes and pull out the mementos that I have saved and never put out because I never had the space.  The ever growing collection of sea glass and shells.  The birth announcements for each of my children.  There are places for candles to create soft glow and spaces for house plants.  Basically, the hygge model says that if it doesn’t invoke joy, it has to go!

It seems completely absurd, but when I am at my darkest, I hide.  I hibernate.  I isolate.  It’s probably one of the worst things that I can do for myself and my state of mind, but there it is.  I have to block it all out and spend some days in my pajamas and pray for the sun to come up.  If you don’t get a return call or only a one or two word text… I’m in isolate mode.  (Check on me in a couple of days, just to make sure I’m alive and most likely, I am up and about again.) Here is where hygge can help me again.  Hygge isn’t just about surrounding ourselves with comfortable sentimental things, its also about adding some special people to your life that can create memories with you.  I need to invite in those people that want to share a cup of tea and a plate of cookies with me.  I want to talk about the weather and the mundane.  I want to listen and be heard.  I want to get rid of the technology (except for Pinterest because I might lose my mind) and play board games and bake with my kids.  I want to draw silly pictures and tape them to the walls.  I want to have friends over for some soup and homemade bread.  I want to make memories, warm ones that I can go back to in my mind when things feel bleak.

So now I am on a quest.  I am going to bring this hygge thing into my life in as many ways as possible.  To me, it sounds like a pretty good roadmap towards living a life full of mindfulness.  Maybe there was a reason that I couldn’t sleep a week ago and had to get up and give in to browsing on Pinterest at 3 in the morning.  God has a reason for everything, right?! Stumbling upon this silly word, this amazing word that I couldn’t pronounce without looking it up, this amazing idea for a feeling that I want to enjoy every moment of my day, is quite possibly the greatest gift that I can do for myself.  Not only does it mean being mindful in all of the special moments, but also taking an active part in providing a setting for those moments.  I want to set the stage for those memories to come and fill me with joy.  I need a little joy in my life.

My life has been about surviving up until now.  It has been nothing but tough work.  But as I put back the pieces back together, I want it to be about more than the work.  I want it to be about exploring, searching and studying what is around me and what it means to be me.  To put these pieces all back together, I need a space that will embrace me at the end of the day and that will provide me with a theater for all the new and wonderful things to come, whatever they might be.  I need that space to be shared with friends and family so that I can create some new and fantastic memories to fill up these empty rooms.

So I’m gonna hygge… sounds like some crazy dance, doesn’t it!?  But seriously, I want to share with you some of the changes that I am making to my home and life over the next couple of weeks and months and well, as long as it takes for me to become a whole person again.  I’m gonna hygge ’til it hurts.  LOL.  I love this word.

kids, Living in the Moment, mindfulness, moving on, Uncategorized, valentine's day

Happy Day-After-Valentine’s Day

 

Today, I opened my eyes and breathed a sigh of relief.  It was officially the day after Valentine’s Day. I had made it through my first “alone” Valentine’s Day, and I have never been so relieved!  Today had to be a better day than yesterday. It was a new day without the constant reminder of things lost.

I have never been a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day always makes me feel lackluster annoyance for it and its traditions.  The little cards that the kids exchange are irritating and have to be stealthily thrown out over the next couple of days.  I have never loved roses, always preferring tulips. I can’t stand the fact that most restaurants have a set menu that always contains a bunch of weird ingredients. I am not a fan of those Forrest Gump boxes of chocolate.  You just never know what you’re gonna get.   I also have always felt underwhelmed by this holiday. For me, it hasn’t ever been full of romantic gestures. I think most women have felt the same way from time to time. Maybe that’s why we all roll our eyes when Valentine’s Day creeps up on the calendar.   It never becomes the masterpiece that we have all at one point envisioned in our minds.

With no valentine this year, I have realized it is all of the sentimental and sappy thoughts that do count.  It’s all of those silly little sappy things that make you realize you are cared for. People think about you and how special you are to them.  They may forget until the last minute to get you a card, but they race to CVS and grab the last lonely card on the rack.  They take the time to do something for you.

Well, let me tell you, I would have given anything for a card, a sticky note, anything that made me feel somewhat thought of yesterday. Piper asked if I was sad because “no one loved me anymore”. It triggered all the loneliness and deep sadness I’ve been grappling with.

Truth be told, I did get something for Valentine’s Day. What did I get for Valentine’s Day? I got … a poop. No, you did not misread that… I got a poop.  Two, actually.

One was Brody’s first potty poop.  It was a huge victory for me, the possible end to almost 12 years of non-stop diaper changes.  I can’t say I felt special but I was overjoyed at the prospect of a diaper free future. He could have stopped there. End of story… yeah!

No such luck. It was the second one that pretty much sealed the deal on Valentine’s Day and made me ready to drown in a bottle of red wine.  It didn’t quite make it to the potty.  Good thing he didn’t have on a pull up or underwear.  Oh, no.  That would have made life too easy!!! I thought that I was blessed because he was quietly playing under the coffee table. I was so wrong… He was avoiding me and my super human poop senses. He had gone right in his pants, and then smeared it down his thighs with his hands.  On the way to the bathroom, it shimmied down his pant leg onto the floor.  Just what I always wanted.  A poop on the floor for Valentine’s Day. This may sound overly dramatic, but at this point, on this day, that is exactly how I felt.

thumb_img_0774_1024
Brody hiding from the inevitable poop change.

Now as a mom of five kids, I have seen and had contact with quite a bit of sh*t. It didn’t shock me.  Crap happens.  You wipe it up and then you move on. But this one just added insult to injury.  I was raw.  The poop broke me.  I sat on the floor looking at it and said “Happy f*cking Valentine’s Day.”

By the end of the day, I was ready to call it quits. I was bone tired. Tired of moving, thinking, fixing, feeling and just existing. I went to bed and the rest of the dreaded day was a memory.

This morning I woke up and I took a deep breath.

It brought mindfulness back to me. I needed to rethink Valentine’s Day.  What I needed to do was assess why yesterday was so bad, beyond the obvious.

Breathing in and out this morning, I realized I needed think about whom I should be getting love from. Should they be the people who make me think I am lovable?

Spending Valentine’s Day alone makes you think that in some way, you are less lovable because you don’t have anyone. True or not, those feelings are very real for those of us that are alone. So who do I get love from… if not from another person? Who will make me feel lovable? Then it dawned on me in that moment of early morning breathing. I am the one that needs to give myself love. It doesn’t have to come from someone else. I AM ENOUGH.

It can be so hard to think of yourself with complete self love, but if I can’t love myself, how can I openly love everything else in my life? I need to believe that I am special, that I am beautiful, that I am strong.  It isn’t good enough tot hear it from other people. I have to believe it! I need to convince myself that I am enough.

So how do I get there???!!! How do I love myself? I know people are born with this confidence skill but I really don’t think I got the gene. I appear confident but I am usually overwhelmed by self-doubt. I really need to stop putting myself last and pleasing others. Just for today, I decided to I work on being happy, about myself, about the amazing life that I have been given. I started by getting out of bed.

I took a shower, a long one until the water ran cold and left goose bumps all over me. I got dressed, carefully picking an outfit and then I put on make up, not for everyone else to see, but for me.  I even matched my bra to my underwear… I gave myself the time to make my bed and flip the shades up. It all made me smile and feel success. A small victory in a long fight to reprogram and love myself and not value my worth by the love others give to me. I’ve got to start with small deeds and just a little bit of self-care.

So for me, the Day-After-Valentine’s Day will be my new holiday.  Screw Valentine’s Day. I don’t need to have the fantasized grand gestures. Every year on February 15, I’m going to wake up and celebrate the growing love that I have for myself… and hopefully pick up less poop.

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.

Lindsay

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!