drops of red

Just after school let out for the summer, I found myself sitting in my van. The light was red and the van idled. The sun was an eerie blaze ahead of me – one of those just before sunset glares.  There I was, suddenly unhappy.  I gripped the steering wheel and studied my wrists; And my mind conjured up this image of little droplets of deep red trickling down each.  I shuddered, shaking off the morbid vision and mashing the gas as the light turned green.

That evening, I felt a bit out of sorts. Where’d that thought come from? Was I so burdened by stress of money issues? By stagnation of my career? Or, more likely, by the desolving structure of my childhood family? Truth, I’d recently realized just how human a man I trusted was. And disappointments in his actions, his continuing lies, and his blatant rejection were fresh injuries to my spirit. But I shouldn’t have been thinking about slit wrists and endings.

I scrolled through my newsfeed. Facebook nonsense, as usual, was mundane and trivial.  And then I saw a link to a newspaper article. My graduate school classmate turned friend turned colleague had been found dead. The report said she’d committed suicide. I let out a cry and tried to stifle my quickly intensifying sobs.

She’d been a distant friend – or acquaintance,  even – as our families had increased and our jobs evolved. Nevertheless,  every time we saw on some another, we’d take a few seconds to smile, compliment,  promise to meet for longer.  I had a standing invitation for her fantastic Austrian coffee and easy, welcome conversation. Then rumors began. Then assumed truths, accusations. There were articles, evening news reports, and speculation. Somewhere in the madness I faltered.  I didn’t call to offer comfort, didn’t email a quick “you’re in my prayers.”  Privately I worried about the woman I’d known and publicly I spoke concern for her young children, the elder of which who had so happily played with mine.  I wondered, no, I still wonder what actually happened.

I’ve thought a lot about that awful moment in my van. About my children without me. They’re resilient,  they’d move on. They would enjoy productive,  happy lives. Someone else would take my place at their important events, would console them in sadness and disappointments,  would cheer them on in daily tries and triumphs. I’d be a memory. It wouldn’t be enough for me.

On Monday,  I celebrated my 35th birthday. I embraced getting older. I reflected on changes I’d like to make. I evaluated my goals, determined which to tweak and which to let go.

And I resolved to live, even as reports about Robin Williams taking his own life began to take over the day.

Need Anything, Mom?

“Just so you know, I took the trash can in, let the dog out, and that’s his food trash on the kitchen room table still,” I rattled as I returned to the room for the third time, out of breath from the two flights of stairs I’d jogged each trip.

It’s been tense in the house. Our kids are stretched for time with athletic and scholastic commitments and family expectations and obligations. There is little space for social exploits – – and the space there is might better be used for sleeping.

And the teen? Hubs and I have been back and forth about privileges and punishments, about freedoms and restraints. There’s conflict between us. Our separate parenting styles have clashed. And in the end, I’m “just the step mom,” even if hubs’d never dare say it.

Where’s the manual for these years?

In retrospect, I think I might actually be evil. Too many times I’ve pointed out what wasn’t done and ignored what was. Did I want the boy – ahem, young man – in his father’s blaring headlights again? I must’ve, because I’d conveniently forgotten to mention the umpteen times he’d climbed those two flights of stairs just to ask, “Need anything mom?” only to be turned away with a snotty “nah” and not so much of a glance his way.

I’ve not thought much about it, but when first he moved in, every greeting and every parting included a hug. It was awkward and distant – like that of strangers feeling obligated to be jovial on a blind date. And yet… Now that the hugs have all but subsided, I miss them.

“His game is tonight, too.” Hubs said as I returned from work. Great. Again, two kids with events simultaneously occurring. So what if it’s just one game, one meet? I said I’d make it to all the home competitions.

“Do we split up? You go to his, and I hers?” It was decided without need of answer. Split the kids into the notorious yours and mine whenever there is conflict in schedules or opinions. And therein lies the lie in blended family: the mixture separates too damn easy. The cohesiveness we strive to create is too easily broken.

I watched the track meet. My daughter ran two races. Meanwhile, my son, who has his whole heart in the game, suited up and began his battle on the turf across town.
I got home. I started dinner. Hubs, surprisingly was still home. If previous games were any indication, there was still time left in the football game. I handed him the baby.

A short time later: “Rachelle, take RiAnne. Coach called. He’s on the field.”

Code for disaster. Like doctors, coaches don’t call unless there’s bad news. My son was hurt. The magnitude of that realization was crushing. No details divulged, just “he’s on the field.” Damn football.

Hubs took the van, shot out the driveway with a madness of a man in fear for his life. Minutes later, “Pick up the phone! You know you want to answer it…” my obnoxious ring tone sounded.

“The ambulance just went by. It’s headed to the school.”

Heart. Keep. Beating. Breathe.

“Please, be careful. Say a prayer. Slow down. Get to him, now.” I said it with a calmness I didn’t feel. My son was hurt – it was serious. They couldn’t tell us over the phone.

In my head, the nagging began. You had time to go watch the end. You get in free. Why did you just go home?

But Ya was complaining. Ri, with continuously draining nose and swollen eyes, needed to get inside now that it had grown dark and colder. So I went home.
Reports of condition were sporadic, incomplete. A stretcher. Sirens. Transport to the ER imminent. Coach by his side. Hubs driving close behind. Tingling in his side. He moved his fingers. X-Ray.

And I, hopelessly self-consumed, guilty and at home. At some point, I passed out. This stupid little cold and baby’s weary sleeping and waking claimed me. Pathetic.

In the haze of my half consciousness, hubs returned. He came home, too, uncomfortably swallowed in a neck brace, but walking – albeit slightly less bounce in his step and swing in his arm. He asked, “Need anything, mom?”

I should’ve said yes. I need a hug.

|Shared with “Things I Can’t Say” for *Pour Your Heart Out*|

the return to the working world, day 2

It’s the end of a bad day. The stress of my responsibility sits heavy on my shoulders. Inadequacies creep into my efforts. I’m ill equipt to control these tenacious personalities of our future. I doubt, yet again, my abilities to complete my task, to prepare them for the next level and beyond.

At home, my children are short tempered. Their bickering escalates as they vie for positions of their own creation. Former roles deemed stolen by our newest prompt these new volitilities. And she, unaware, demands attention.

I shirk on duties. Fell asleep early, the smell of amaretto on my nightstand, a drink left untouched. Waking up just in time to send my babies to bed, I realize I’ve missed too much today.

What was that she was so excited to tell me? Oh yeah, she loves her new reading group (the teacher is less strict, more entertaining). She’s still recounting her middle school field trip – the French bread pizza fresh from the oven, the expert teacher slated to teach her same gender classes, the novelty of different choices in electives (drama class!).

And he sought my assistance several times. He entered timidly, scoped the baby’s condition, and having determined she’s fine, made requests. Anything to divert my focus to him. “Mom, can you feed me a little bit? My arm is tired from all the up and down.” He’s sought a lot of assistance for things he did with confidence independently.

But now they are asleep. I missed their prayers. They skipped goodnight hugs and kisses. I sneak into rooms, whisper ‘I love you,’ blow kisses toward the bunk bed sleeper and arrange blankets for little man below before kissing his forehead softly.

Ri needs to eat. My chest aches in reminder. I change her diaper, adjust her night sleeper. I find myself watching her face, muscles shifting from smiles to pouts. Her eyes flicker, hands never rest long, and fingers flex. I hold her even though I know I’m creating dependency. In my arms, she relaxes into deeper sleep, breath slowing as her chest rises and falls rhythmically. I breathe in her scents, rub her nose with mine, smooth her hair. She snores softly.

Guilt again pangs. I need to extend myself further. My babies miss me. They still need to know my devotion, my adoration. I’m still their Mommy.

Not I

After last week’s hiatus from Not Me’ing (yes, it’s a verb now), you’d think I’d be roaring to go… but it’s 1:28 a.m. and I’m sitting in my room wide awake and excited about today being a much needed, much anticipated SNOW DAY. And the Not Me’s? I’m having a bit of memory lapse thinking of the things I did not do this week. Hmmm….

I did not discover that my very important, favorite Christmas gift is very broken. I just new it was safely guarded from damage (until it fell of my bed in between photo shoots). And of course, I have not been trying to find a reasonably priced comparison to replace my lense because I am totally not addicted to the fabulous picture taking results it produces. I am also not using the broken lense by holding it pressed against the camera body as I shoot… because, again, I am not addicted to the awesome images it helps me create.

I am not wondering how I didn’t realize how much I missed sharing my bed with my precious little girl. I think hearing the combined snores of two children beside me is absolutely lovely, though I would never tell those anti-co-sleeping folk I know how much I love it.

I am not absolutely giddy about today’s snow day. I have been blessed with a great job and should want to be there all the time, right?

I have not turned on Michaels in favor of the new and improved Joanne’s Crafts. The latter has the entire line of K & Company stickers and a new line by Crayola that is “Wild”ly addictive (and conveniently matches Ya’s room decor). I did not cave and go to the store under the guise of spending a 40 percent off coupon and come out of the store with $50 worth of stickers and page bling for my terribly behind scrap books.

I do not visit random stores with Ya becuase I relish in the “He’s sooooo cute” comments that he always gets. I am not thoroughly enjoying that people think he looks like me and therefore every compliment is indirectly testifying to my own good looks (right?). And Ya’s super huge, gummy smile does not attract folk to him like bears to honey or flies to poop (eww, did I just say that? What a terrible simile).

I have not increased tummy and sit up time with Ya in anticipation of a photo shoot with the fabulous Lisa Julia because his willingness to hold these positions will produce cuter images. I am not obsessed with photographs. Not me!

I am not blaming every slower-than-anticipated milestone Ya reaches on his 3-week-early arrival or his being male. All good things take time, right? And those silly charts are just estimations…

I am not totally in awe of God’s power to protect and keep us. This past week has seen the miracle birth of little Samuel (God hears and answers prayers, doesn’t he?). This charming little man couldn’t wait to make his grand entrance in the world, so he arrived 10 weeks before he was supposed to. And as we pray about his health, he thrives!

Not Me Monday

notmemonday

I did not get so thoroughly engrossed in writing drafting a blog entry in my bathroom pumping station that I forgot I was pumping and leaked the liquid gold as the bottle overflowed. Really, I use that time to think about the important task at hand…

I did not have a craving for McD’s plain ice cream Sunday, Taco Bell chalupas and McD’s French fries at the same time. In 37 weeks of pregnancy I had not one weird food combination desire. But now that Ya’s here? I am a culinary mixing freak.

I did not have the following conversation over a certain Christmas present:
M: Look at that. You threw your coat in the recycling bin.
Me: Not on purpose. That’s just where it landed.
M: Wow. Next I’ll see it in the trash or ripped.
Me: (smiling) I’m better with jewelry.
M: (silence)

I did not thoroughly enjoy testing out my amazing make up artist techniques on Chi who then transformed into an Egyptian/East Indian goddess. And Chi for one two brief hours allowed me to snap pictures to my heart’s content while she danced and spun and acted her part. Oh how I miss it being Mommy and Chi play time!
I did not subject Ya to multiple tummy time positioning to test my “it’s a fluke” theory about his ability to roll over. You’d think that after the first two roll overs Mommy’d get the point that he didn’t want to lay on his tummy, right?

I am not still amazed at how well Chi has mastered the monkey bars. My own little monkey? Yep, the little gymnast is quite good at swinging, jumping, and flying like those cute zoo creatures. Maybe it’s because I spent so long working on a photodocumentary at the Oakland Zoo while I was pregnant? That’s got to be it, I’ll credit blame OZ for her talents.
I did not decide to show off my photojournalistic dedication by laying under playground equipment to shoot a picture of Chi with the beautiful sky as the background. I did not then discover that in my old age, it was a lot easier to get on the ground than it was to get off it.

Never I

A warm weather shot at the park from this weekend:

And now,

notmemonday

Welcome to the opposite game of therapy and confession that MckMama hosts every week! It’s free, it’s easy, it’s a release…

I did not decide that after only two hours of time sans baby, beginning the work/school/daycare week was looking pretty appealing. I love spending time with my kids and I enjoy the opportunity to dedicate my time to their pleasures. What kind of mother would relish in the brief break of daycare?

I did not get my taxes and then spend hours plotting how to pay the bills while still splurging a bit for Chi and I. Afterall, we’ve not been living the frugal life for months in order to pay down my debt. It’s amazing how a little restraint makes you so darn eager to spend frivolously!

I did not spend a half hour trying to pick out the perfect Valentine’s Day cards for my family members. I do, of course, have a wall full of card stock and a closet full of themed stamps for that very purpose. I also always have my hands free, my creativity on point, and my motivation at a super sonic high.

I did not decide that the whole Groundhog Day ritual was hogwash when the temperatures hit near 60s and we had to take off coats or risk sweating to death outside. I did not strip my kids down and hit up the park for the third time in this past week so they could play and I could photograph them without complaints.

I did not discover that Ya’s taste buds are on hyper sensitivity when I fed him what I was eating all weekend. He did not gobble down carrots, peas, noodles, and grapes like a toothy pro despite having only gums in his drooly mouth. I did not get a kick out of watching him push his bottle away in favor of the fork full of food I was eating. And of course, I was not determined to keep my food all to myself because it was good and he’d already eaten.

I did not discover that Ya has made his parental preference and savor the fact that it is Mommy he chose. It’s important for kids to have quality relationships with both parents, right?

I did not surprise myself and my family by agreeing without reservations to let Chi attend a sleepover with her friend. I’ve screened the family, I trust them with her, and Chi tells me everything. And so it’s okay to let her enter the world of girlie rituals with a Slumber Party.

I did not discover that though all things blogging, social, fun are blocked at work, I could still attach my Not Me’s to “Mr. Linky” on MckMama’s page because she has a dot net base page. I do not sometimes read the cover page of the blog that way despite the savory pictures being Xd out because photo servers are also blocked.

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