Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Parents of teenagers: I am not okay

 No one prepared me, when I was wishing for confident, funny children, for the moment when a child would so self-rightously look me dead in the eye and question why I was reacting so strongly to something they did. Something that made me genuinely understand why they had to clarify that you can only drop infants off at fire stations. Something so egregiously against the rules of both our home and regular society that I was the epitome of the word "flabbergasted." Like, if you've ever watched any teen drama, read a book, or engaged with anyone, anywhere, at anytime you would know that what they did was patently "not cool." 

Parents of older kids, help me out. I have to believe that they are good, smart people at heart but good Lord, I may actually go out for milk and never come back. 

I'm including this picture from when they were cute and tiny and not glaring at me

Friday, May 27, 2022

Overshadowed: The curse of the middle child

In true middle child fashion, Sydney turned twelve right after I got back from Colorado and then immediately after we all got hit with "Not Coronovirus but still really sucks" So my poor middle child's birthday post is only a teensy bit behind. 

This girl. I like this girl a lot. 

She is an old soul with a sarcastic, dry sense of humor that always makes adults feel just a little bit bad about laughing. In short, the best kind of humor. She's brave and thoughtful and adventurous and of all of my kids, I think she's probably the most likely to backpack across Europe or try fried grasshoppers or hop onto a questionably legitimate bus headed...somewhere. 

She wanted to go as a family to the trampoline park so we all bounced and flipped and climbed ALL DAY, and then promptly we all fell ill with whatever feels like hell and is not COVID. Then just as she was feeling better she decided to try to learn how to flip on solid ground (as opposed to on trampolines) and broke her hand. So we're kicking off the new year pretty spectacularly!


Saturday, May 21, 2022

Strong Women

Here's to Strong Women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. 

Grief is a funny thing. 

My mom died. She died two weeks ago. And yet she doesn't feel gone. Or rather, she feels gone, but not Gone. 

I keep waiting for the sense of finality that I know will usher in the grief, and it continues to evade me. I got the call that she'd died the day after she'd arrived home in Durango. I spoke to the first responder who was still in the house, who explained that they'd done everything they could. I talked to the coroner and gave her medical details that they lacked, hoping to help them understand why she'd been able to drive 17 hours alone, and then gone to bed never to get back up again. I made phone calls and arrangements and plane trips home to pack up a house I hadn't stepped foot in in years. I've spoken with lawyers and banks and collected death certificates and accepted flowers and attended to all the business that comes with death. 

And yet, I returned home and it still feels like I'm waiting for her to come home from a trip. When my dad died I was crushed with the shock of it and with my mom, it feels like the grief is waiting somewhere just out of reach. 

About three years ago, almost to the day, my mom called to tell me that she'd been diagnosed with stage four cancer. The doctors in our small town had delayed and missed signs and by the time they'd reached the diagnosis, the best they could offer her was hospice care. She asked me to look into cancer centers, to see if there might be other options, and in July she flew out to California to meet with a surgeon at UC Davis. It turned out she wasn't a candidate for surgery, but she was eligible for a clinical trial. And what was meant to be a two week visit turned into three years of living together and being a part of our lives. 

I had no idea at the time what a gift that would be. We went from seeing her once a year to being a part of each other's daily lives. I am so, so grateful for that and at the same time it really fucking sucks. And I think part of what's making it hard to accept is that she was on a trip when she died, so I keep waiting for her to come home. 

She didn't want a funeral or a burial. She always said, "I just want to be gone." When I was putting together my dad's service she said, "Please don't do any of this for me." So there's no "event." I can't bring myself to write the obituary, though I did finally do the Facebook post. I'm going to have to clean out her room soon and Sydney will move back in there eventually. I think that's when it will feel real, more than cleaning out her house did. 

In the meantime, I want to honor her for the strong woman that she was and for the strong women that she raised. It is because of her that I will always approach adversity with an attitude of defiance. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Stressed, Blessed, and Wrestling Obsessed

I keep threatening Eli that I'm going to buy and wear a shirt that has the title of this post bedazzled on it. They exist, and they must be easily purchased because every Saturday I am DEFINITELY in the minority of moms in crowded gyms not wearing them. 

I'm not going to wear the shirt, but I realized that I haven't really memorialized this kid and his accomplishments lately. Wrestling season is officially over, which I thought meant we'd have our weekends free again to, I don't know, not perch in high school gyms waiting to run across campus in time to watch him wrestle for three minutes and then wait for another four hours. I shouldn't complain because it's actually the perfect sport for me to parent because I love waiting. My entire responsibility is to sit patiently, reading and mindlessly scrolling, and the cost is a brief three to five minutes of agonizing anxiety. Then I walk it off and get another couple hours to recover. Plus the snack bar food is not terrible. But I digress. 

So we thought the season was over, and then Eli told us that his coach was holding off-season practices. Cool, sure, whatever. Then there were off-season tournaments. Okay... Guys. Off season wrestling is actually WAY busier than regular season. Eli has wrestled every weekend since the season ended. He's also working every tournament and helping coach the junior team, which he got Averson on to. And rather than be petulant about my loss of freedom like I want to be, I'm actually kind of loving it. He's so invested and he's also noticing that his coaches are recognizing his commitment. For a kid who really hasn't had to work hard for much, being recognized for your effort is a pretty big deal and a lesson I desperately wanted him to get. And he's killing it in these tournaments! Because it's club and not school, he's wrestling a lot of the same kids over and over, and it's fun to watch them strategize against each other. I don't know that I'll ever be able to comfortably watch a match, but I'm to the point where I'm not making a fool of myself anymore and that's progress. I gave myself a sticker for it. 

Spectators spectating
A kid and his varsity letter. Now we just have to get the jacket to go with it

Refereeing tiny little wrestlers! I tried to find a picture from when he was that little but they're from the way-back-when of pictures not on my phone and it's a lot of work

Some day I'll get a picture of my children not making weird faces, but today is not that day. But he's happy with his medals, despite the face he's making


Tuesday, May 3, 2022

My little poet

 In second grade our school does a Poetry Night where the wear black berets, we all sip lukewarm coffee, and the kids recite poems they've memorized. It was one of the few things that bummed me out about Averson being virtual last year because it's both adorable AND tolerable, a rare mix in the world of elementary school performances. So I was absolutely thrilled when I realized that they'd decided to combine the 2nd and 3rd grade classes this year, meaning that she'd get a chance to perch upon the stool after all! 

She was so sweet and so earnest and so, so nervous. It's a big deal to the kids that the parents don't know their poems in advance, so all we knew was that she had a two person poem and a poem that she'd written, and that she was nervous that she'd forget her lines. The night before the performance she nearly gave herself an ulcer second-guessing her preparation, given that she'd only performed in front of other students and now she'd have to perform in front of ADULTS. What if she didn't make eye contact? What if she froze? She was so sweet and so excited and I was only a teensy bit worried for her. 

She totally nailed it. Her poem for two voices "House Crickets" by Paul Fleishman, was adorable and her own poem about Christmas was sweet (even the part about being scolded for being too loud). We all did jazz hands instead of the art house snap which I didn't totally understand and there wasn't any coffee, but it was perfect nonetheless.