Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Away Laughing on the Laughingest Camel

The hilarious snark machine that is Tom & Lorenzo had me in stitches this afternoon with their hilarious take on the national costumes on display at the Miss Universe Pageant.

(Here's a tip - don't try to drink Diet Coke while reading TLo's commentary on the dresses.)

Miss Universe 2010 National Costumes Part 1

Miss Universe 2010 National Costumes Part 2

Monday, August 16, 2010

I empty drawers of other summers, Where my shadows used to be

Last night, as I was contemplating what word to play in a Scrabble game on Facebook, an instant message popped up from an old friend.

"How's your summer?" he asked.

After a moment I typed back, "It's been...weird. How about you?"

He told me about a summer trip and I chatted with him, amicably, about the Ozarks.

I did not mention that grief had run over my soul and my summer like a freight train.

Facebook is nice, in that it can connect with old friends from your past.

But in my head, this old friend is still a boy who took me to a dance in a silly purple dress, and who stayed up all night, once, helping me study for a test.

And in his head, I am certain, I am still that girl in that purple dress, who had nothing more to worry about than what grade she was going to get on her World Geography exam.

Maybe the girl in the purple dress is still in here, somewhere. If she is, she is buried under a mountain of black fabric.

I should have taken some time off after J~ died. It wasn't practical, or possible, really.

When your boss dies, even if he happens to be family, it's not really feasible to walk away from work.

Last night, at the dinner table, my husband made me laugh. Actually, it was a combination of my husband and my cat, but the laughter poured out of me like water.

It felt good to laugh like that - to laugh at something real.

I've been watching a lot of funny television (a friend recommend Hot in Cleveland, which is hilarious.) And a few weeks ago, Husband and I went to a comedy club in Cleveland to see a very funny guy.

So, I won't say I haven't been laughing, because I have been. I have been actively seeking out things that will make me laugh.

But the spontaneous laughter, at the antics of Husband and our small auxiliary cat, it's been a while since I laughed like that.

It felt good. I wish I could say that it washed the grief from my soul. Maybe it did, a little bit.

But the truth is that I am still not okay.

I became furious with my sister the other day. The thing my sister did was, probably, infuriating, but my reaction to the thing that she did was out of proportion to her action.

I've yelled at Husband for things that are not his fault.

I said something to a defendant in court the other day that was...cruel. The thing that I said was true, but I was cruel, deliberately cruel. As it came out of my mouth, I knew that the thing I said would have made J~ upset with me. It was not something he would have ever done. I had to excuse myself and I walked into the ladies' room for a few minutes. When I returned, I apologized, to the defendant, to the judge, to the judge's clerk. The settlement conference continued. As I was leaving the courtroom, the judge touched my arm. "We all know what you've lost," she said. She was kind to me when I had just been wretched in front of her. Her kindness in that moment was invaluable.

All of these instances, taken together, and it dawns on me that I am angry.

Angry at the universe and the circumstances and the cancer and the doctors. Angry, maybe a little, with J~ himself. Is it wrong to be angry with him for leaving us?

I don't know. I don't have any answers. All I know is the only way to go from here is up. Because what is down a crater of anger and despair and I don't think that is good place to spend what's left of the summer.


*Counting Crows, Hard Candy

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

To unlock a truth that you may never find, For it was in a cup of kindness all the time

I read two articles this morning about mothering.

The first one involves a study of working mothers and is found here: Do Working Mothers Really Still Need to Justify Themselves?

The second is a post by Julie at A Little Pregnant, regarding World Breastfeeding Week. Her post is called Breastfeeding is awesome. There. I've Encouraged You.

I know that working mothers and breastfeeding are not the same topic, but what they do have in common is that they are both hot and touchy topics.

When I first pregnant with Gabriel, way back in 1999, I spent a lot of time reading the parenting discussion boards at I don't think those forums exist anymore, at least in the way they did then. What I found both shocking and upsetting was how ugly an argument could get on the Internet. There were very personal attacks and there were several times, just during my pregnancy, where the moderators of BabyCenter threatened to shut down the "Great Debates" discussion forum.

I wasted a lot of time on those boards.

I mean that. I wasted a lot of time. I spent a lot of time defending my own decision to work and watching the wretched sparring match that would go on between formula feeders and breast feeders.

What was the point of all of those hours wasted? To the extent they had any bearing on my real life or real choices? I would have been better served watching daytime television, I'm pretty sure. Or reading more mysteries. Painting my toenails? Learning to make Moroccan food? Crocheting Gabe's initials on the backs of diaper cozies?

My point is that I had a lot of time and emotional investment in those boards, and, in retrospect, it was absurd.

It didn't matter.

Being a working mother was the reality for my life and my family. I don't regret it, and I don't feel guilty about it. And I don't feel a need to justify it. (Some of you are sitting back and saying, "well, if you don't feel a need to justify it, why are you writing about it at all?" and I say, "I'm getting there, really, I am.")

Similarly, breastfeeding my son was the reality for my life and family. I was suffering from a wicked case of post-partum depression during Gabriel's first year, and there is very little that I enjoyed about his infancy.

Nursing Gabriel was one of the few things I enjoyed about mothering an infant. Yes, it was hard at first. Yes, it hurt. Yes, I was tired. I'm still glad I did it. It was fulfilling in a way I cannot adequately explain.

But, my decision to nurse Gabriel or be a working mother is not a judgment about other mother's choices. I have held the hand of more than one of my good Girlfriend's and said, "If you don't want to do this? Don't do it."

What worked or works for me is not always going to work for other mothers. I'm happy to be the biggest cheerleader for a girlfriend who wants to breastfeed and is having trouble getting started. I'm happy to look at a resume for a girlfriend who wants to go back to work.

But I'm equally happy to hold their hands and say, "This mothering business? This mothering gig is HARD. It's hard and sticky and messy and sometimes the only way to experience it is to hold on to the people you love and drag them with you through the sticky mess. And let them drag you when you are too tired to do the dragging."

The most powerful sentence in the piece Julie has written is this one:

"What I want, more than to promote breastfeeding itself, is to promote kindness to mothers."

Hallelujah. Hallelujah and Amen.

There is no point to finger-pointing and nay-saying and "I love my kid more than you love your kid because I did X and you did Y."

So don't say those stupid things.

Instead, be kind. Be kind to each other. Be kind to other mothers. Grab hold and help them be the best mothers that they can. Be kind. Be gentle. Remember - Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.**


*Emmy Lou Harris, Cup of Kindness
** Plato (Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Random Rant

I have some heavy, substantive, adoption and high school reunion related posts rolling in my head, but for now, I just want to rant about things of no substance.

1. Why is Yahoo! telling me it's "Back to School Time" every time I log on to my home page? It's AUGUST 2nd. My kids don't go back until the 1st of September, and other kids in our area don't go back until September 7. So, please, Yahoo! Cease and desist.

2. Do we really need another song professing the superiority of "California Girls"? I submit that we do not! Do we not, already, as a people, harbor a deep-seeded belief that the California Girl is superior to all other girls? Doesn't this song just serve to further demoralize all other American Girls who are NOT California Girls? Like the California Girls NEED another ego boost? Somebody needs to write a song about Ohio Girls or Wisconsin Girls, STAT.

3. Why is there almost NOTHING worth watching on TV all week, and then Sunday night we have Leverage, Mad Men, and Rubicon? Thank goodness for my DVR or I would be really miffed about having to choose between Leverage and Rubicon.

4. Why does my daughter want to watch the SAME EPISODE of iCarly over and over and over again, ad nauseum? Why? I don't hate iCarly. I actually find it kind of amusing. It's probably my third favorite children's television show (after Phineas and Ferb and The Penguins of Madagascar (oh King Julian, how you make me laugh)) - but over and over and over, it makes me want to tear my hair out. Aren't there something like 70 episodes of this show? Why must we watch the one where Spencer gets locked in the basement ALL. THE. TIME.

Okay...that's the end of my pointless pop culture rant. Check back later for something to sink your teeth in to.


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