Love me when it hurts

“If we really want this thing to work we gotta go to war….” Avant, ‘When It Hurts

I better start asking “will you love me when it hurts,” because it’s hurting more and more. This blended family thing is an experiment in futility ; or at least it seems so sometimes. Inevitably,  no matter how much we profess to be all about “ours,” the “mine mentality ” seems to be underlying every decision.

If I thought children were unwilling pawns in relationship chess before, I’m certain of it now. Except I forgot to figure in the other pieces playing the board. The castle, or career and financial dealings . The Knights, our siblings. The bishops, in-laws and family elders. And though there’s only one king and one queen on this board, they often play on opposing sides instead of as a ruling, supporting pair.

Frankly,  I’m not sure I want to spend life in a game of strategic action. I’ve got apps for that. But honestly,  if the extended family is constantly invited in to cause strife and further divide, there’s no winning.  It’s one thing to confide in someone – to seek a listening ear that doesn’t connect to a wagging tongue. It’s another to entertain intrusion,  confusion and, ultimately isolation.

I’m ready to lay my piece down and declare game over. I can’t see putting children through an endless, destructive game.

Pull out

It’s been hard to write lately; not because I’m uninspired,  but because I worry who might hold my thoughts expressed against me.  I’ve learned I’m not liked by some – and the dislike is so intense that it’s vicious and overwhelming.

I’m reminded often that impressions (however false) are made quickly and they don’t dispell. I suppose I can’t please everyone. I can’t imagine trying. But it’s so hard to know – to have it made painfully obvious – that I’m the target of rage.

I try. I’m a genuine person. I’m practiced in tact. I care. I never want to make others uncomfortable,  to make them feel less worth. So it hurts when I’m falsely accused of errors.

My outlet suffers. I’ve no desire to add fuel to foolishness. I’m guarding myself against criticism. Lord knows I’ve had so much scrutinized, picked apart. I just need to pause, separate and move on.

The mermaid

mermaid RiCerulean shimmers amidst shocked white spray
Undulating, stirring the constant changing tides
The crash of salt and sea
Rocks jutting just above scream “halt!”
She baths atop this surfaced throne
Watching the waves churn about her
Head turning heaven-ward, she is still
Sunkissed skin merges with iridescent drops
Whilst pearls and shells modestly adorn

*inspired by the word ‘wave’ from Six Word Fridays

Land! Treasure! And a message in the bottle

I’ve been planning this session in my head for quite some time: a pirate ship, a few swarthy crew members, a beach.  I pictured my kid-version of Captain Jack Sparrow coming to life in front of my camera lens.

I ordered a boat. When it arrived in the little box, I told hubs he’d have to blow it up. I think his heart stopped at the thought. “You bought a boat?” He asked, as though the very idea were absurd.

“Yes, a boat.”

Truthfully, it is a boat, though the little wooden transportation would hardly float and is certainly not water-ready. But it is absolutely perfect for my photo projects.

Ri had another tutu coming. I know, I know, you’re thinking “Another tutu?” Our collection is taking over my “studio space.” And yet, I couldn’t pass on a chance at getting a little pirate set. Nor could I skip getting the super-reduced $5 costume Babies ‘R’ Us version.

We ventured to our favorite park early in the morning, but the sun was already too high in the sky. Harsh shadows threatened us, but my little pirate model was ready. Ready to run from the camera, ready to jump out of her docked boat, ready to attack anyone near with a driftwood sword she’d picked up on the shore. Typical, truly.
pirate 3

pirate 2


This is childhood

ri web

RiAnne, 18 months.

Suave, rising sophomore

This summer begins in a mere 15 days. Fifteen! It’s hard to believe I’m wrapping up another year of teaching – - even harder to realize that my children have reached new milestones in their educational journeys. And hubs just survived a year as our “daytime caregiver,” rearranging his work schedule to ensure our very active daughter had competent supervision and love-filled days.

I’ve watched my babies discover themselves in these past nine months.

My son, Suave, has tried to assert his independence. He’s bucked our attempts to shelter him, staying behind at school without permission or skipping bus rides we expect him to take. I know he feels confined. We worry about where he lingers and who he hangs out with. Perhaps we owe him the opportunity to explore and a chance to make choices. But I worry ceaselessly. Call it my “mother nature.”
He told me that of the seniors he knows, no one is graduating. “They’re on the five year plan,” he said matter-of-fact, as though that were an option for study in high school. And he couldn’t understand my reply: “Maybe you need a new circle of associates.” It’s like these troubled kids – these students who’ve lost their focus – seem to draw a stronger gravitational pull on our son than the “good” students are capable of.

How do you encourage a child – ahem, teenage young man – to pick “friends” befitting of his aspirations? Guilt by association is a very real thing. People are judged my the company they keep even if they are not personally like their surrounding posse.

I love that he’s proud to share his good marks. Whenever he gets an A or B, he announces the achievement as soon as I’m looking in his direction: “How was your day, mom? I’m third highest score on my SOL…” And those offensive Fs? Well, he’s trying, he says when confronted about them. Somehow he never has homework. He’s hardly ever “caught” reading – especially not for school. And despite having a bedtime the same as much younger siblings, he sleeps ALL THE TIME. I wonder, if we give him an extra hour, would he sleep only at bedtime?IMG0679web
But my Suave, who still pilfers for snacks in the cabinet and hides the remains throughout the house, is generally a great young man. Yes, I readily admit it. He always asks about my day, and waits eagerly for me to reciprocate. He takes a special pleasure in using his money to treat me to something – a coffee, a small meal. And I know he loves this evil stepmother beyond what I warrant. He deserves so very much adoration for who he is and who he is becoming.

Though it may be seen as a flaw, he also forgives. He believes in people – - that they want to do what’s right and will try to do it. Even when they don’t (consistently), he still holds out hope.

In the fall, he’ll be a sophomore – a “wise fool.” I’m thinking this football rising star will come into his scholarship, too. And I’m ready to cheer on his victories in the classroom and on the field.

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