Tonight’s remembering

Where do I begin?

I’m sad tonight. I feel a tremendous loss. I’ve no one to talk to, because I’d violate some code of silence cast over us.  Someday, I pray, I’ll understand the why. But tonight? Tonight I grieve. Tonight I wipe the spontaneous tears away and pretend nothing – no one – was lost. I’ll push away those nagging thoughts that insist it’s pride that got us here, that keeps us here. Time is a delicate, precious commodity. It doesn’t replenish. It doesn’t stop. Tomorrow,  it may be too late. Tomorrow may never be. So I weep for what was… alone.

Only Wednesday

It’s Wednesday… I think. Yes, Wednesday. The notorious “hump day” that working folk strive to overcome as they begin to anticipate being closer to the weekend and further from Monday.

I said something this week that I never expected to say: I’d really like to make it through an entire week of work without being called out early.


It’s true, though. With four full time children in our care, someone is always needing more. More time, more attention, more health consciousness, more appointments, more extracurricular activities, more stimulation. And I’m quickly realizing that it’s hard – really hard – to stretch myself in so many directions at once. Something’s got to give.

I used to look at those stick people stickers on the back of people’s family vehicles (usually vans) and marvel at the stretch of faces depicted. Used to. Then, while sitting behind a car one day, I counted the heads and realized their family was no different than mine in size – right down to the family dog. Yes, we’re seven strong; or rather, seven trying to get along.

The number of people actually involved in this family dynamic continues to baffle me. It’s not just mom and dad trying to raise five children. Great grandma has a say. So do numerous grandparents. So, apparently, do neighbors and well meaning teachers offering untrained counseling. Everyone has something to contribute to how we should or what we should do all the time. It takes a village to drive a mom insane with second guessing her every decision… wait, that’s not how it goes.

My mom texted me yesterday that “We need to talk.” One of the kids is troubled and I’m either the problem or have been blind to it.
And yet, I have been in daily conversation with my babies. I listen to their daily stories of school yard antics, classroom triumphs, and hard knocks of life. I try to advocate when I’m informed of injustice against them. I buffer the wrath of my counterpart’s frustration – often playing “good cop” when he’s home. But I’m also bad cop laying down the law when it’s only me.

And it is sometimes only me: Making mistakes in how punishment is doled out; choosing to ignore little things and focus on the immediate bigger issues; and trying to balance fairness and truth amidst omissions and bad behaviors.

I don’t profess to be perfect. It seems like the longer I’m a mother, the more errors I make on the job.

It’s Wednesday. Only Wednesday. The days roll on. I wonder if I’ll ever make it through a week without being called out.

the run away love

I probably shouldn’t write this here – in such a public forum. And yet, I feel compelled to.
Something happened this week and rocked the very foundation of our home. We’ve not recovered, probably won’t repair the many tiny cracks resulting from this quake anytime soon – if ever. I’m afraid. I’m hurt. I’m uncertain about what to do or how to even begin to rebuild.

My son ran away. He packed up his big red school book bag and “borrowed” his deceased uncle’s bike. He took out the trash can from the garage, and while it was open, he set the bike outside for easy access later on. Then, after checking in with me about anything else needing to go out to the curb, he walked downstairs and out the back door. And he pedaled that bike toward the northbound highway.

Of course, he didn’t say goodbye. Perhaps the kiss on his baby sister’s cheek – when he held her hands and told her he loved her – was his farewell.

He didn’t come up for dinner. I set his plate on the counter but didn’t call him, assuming that he’d come up when he was hungry or heard the usual clanking of plates and silverware as his siblings chatted over their meals. He never joined them, his meal sat untouched until late in the evening.

I didn’t realize he’d left the house. Over the course of the year he’s lived with me, he’s often gone to bed early or retired to his room to read or sketch.
I never would have guessed he was so miserable living in our home.

Why was he hurting so? Did he feel alone? Alienated? Unloved?

Perhaps I really am the evil stepmother I feared becoming… but honestly, I didn’t think so. I reasoned with hubs about our child-rearing policies, blending what was good in our methods and adjusting what needed change. He’s my son now, even if he wasn’t mine for the first 12 years of his life. I’ve fought for him to play sports even when his grades weren’t exactly what we’d demanded. I got him a phone to use on weekends, or when delayed while out, to chat with friends, and to check in when he got home first during the week. (The phone was a mistake; I fully admit that and my inflated bill smacked that realization into my face). I encouraged him to improve his grades. I shared the reasoning behind the rules the same way I always have with my younger children. I trusted him even when his actions betrayed me. I gave him choice. I claimed him. I love him.

He’s home now. He was returned to us that same evening he made his “escape.”

And now, there is tension in our home, it permeates. Conversations are guarded and uncomfortable. Hubs is struggling to make sense of it (and making comparisons with his own childhood discontent).

There was no warning of this impending danger. I thought our problems were merely pings of teenage strife revealed. Doesn’t everyone struggle with restrictions?

I want to patch the sprawling lines resulting from this disaster – to seal up the evidence of damage. But I can’t just cover up the problems without ensuring they won’t reoccur. How do I begin?

she’s told her parents she’s gay

I’m sitting here listening to the conversations of my students.

It was inadvertent – actually listening to the snippets and allowing them to become a focus of my attention – but it happened.

“You don’t know my parents,” she began. “They’re like a whole different species,”

As a mandatory “reporter,” I’m legally obligated to notify the proper authorities of abuse. So I’ve become an astute observer of behavioral changes. I’ve learned to hear what wasn’t intended for me to know. And sometimes, I’m pulled in:

“I came out to my father the other day… he’s going to tell my mom… and she’s the religious one. He can’t keep something like this to himself,” she continued.

There’s this sort of “out of the closet” movement happening in the high school right now. Teens are declaring to their parents, their friends and to the community that they are homosexual, bisexual, or “curious” (the latter meaning they’re still exploring sexuality).

The school board has given partial nod to these public pronouncements by conditionally sanctioning Gay-Straight-Alliance clubs in schools expressing interest. Despite this tolerance (for lack of a better term), “that’s gay” and expressions like it are still loosely tossed around like insults to express disgust or distain for something. And there are attacks on openly homosexual students under the guise of morality objections and religious prohibition.

It doesn’t make not being straight easy.

Her classmate advised, “You’ll have a plan when the sh** hits the fan.”

“Yeah, I’m not ready for death stares across the dinner table,” she replied. She comes from a second generation immigrant family with strong feelings about culture and tradition. Her confession to her father was received with assignments to study the family’s religious doctrines and re-evaluate.

In class, the students rambled on for a bit, with the female student talking about wanting to move out as soon as she turned 18. “I told them I’ll visit, and they blew up. Seriously, I thought about saying ‘I should want to stay as far from you as possible.’”

And her classmate nodded, “They’ll remain ignorant.”

She’s tried really hard to come to acceptance of herself. In the three years I’ve known her, she’s grappled with her feelings and her sense of social belonging. Trust when I say she had difficulty concluding she is a lesbian. And in determining she is gay, she’s devoted most of this year to championing for “the cause.”

I was shocked to hear that though she’s been “out” here at school for some time, she’s just now telling the people who should be closest to her.

This isn’t information I’m obligated to report, but my heart aches for her. It hurts for her parents. What must they be feeling? Why weren’t they consulted instead of confronted with this critical part of their daughter’s identity? Are they able to accept how she’s decided to live? And can they support her choices?

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.

in the morning, while you sleep


You’re between Daddy and I on a pillow. It’s a position you expect to have – and it’s no surprise, as most nights I fell asleep with you in my belly resting against him. You’d stop your kicking and squirming and push toward his radiating heat then. You do the same now.

There is a chorus of deep breathing between you and Daddy, punctuated by your squeaky inhale and occasional twitter of your vocal sounds. A rustling of sheets as both of you shift in covers and draw closer still to me or one another. I am soothed by these perfectly timed sounds after nearly a week of metallic ticking, alarming beeps, nurse chatter, and mechanical air sucking and blowing in my restless hospital nights without you.

Already, you speak, you laugh, you smile. You, with an amazing alertness watch the household closely, likely determined to place yourself in the center of it all. Brothers and sister cautiously hold you, and scramble to soothe your momentary discontent.

You’ve become an integral part of us in these 16 days. I suspect you’ve been a guiding force for longer, though, as we’ve anticipated your arrival and prepared to welcome you into our lives.

I want to capture this time – to seal the vignettes of our daily activity into my memory vault. I need to preserve each little moment as they quickly rush by.

You, with tossled hair, it’s fine texture no match for naturally forming curls and cow licks. You with the slightly slanted set eyes scouring the room. You with the long, thin fingers reaching out through the air and grasping for the security of a blanket, or more often, flesh. You, whose eyes flicker and peek even in sleep, as though you can’t bare to miss a second of this life. You, with the strength to propel yourself closer to the welcomed warmth of a loved one. You, who accepts kisses and nose rubs with outstretched hands settling on the giver’s cheeks. You, with the scrunched brows and twisted mouth, hands in fists by your ears and body wriggling in a stretch.


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