Monday, May 21, 2012


On days like these, every noise feels like an assault.  Monday morning and the garbage truck bangs, snorts and crashes down the street like a prehistoric machine.  I search for a little silence.  It isn't happening.  My husband wakes up early for a change and hovers around my chair, asking questions I already answered last night.  The tiny, shrilling ring of the fax machine is constantly in the background, like a mosquito, until I reach over and yank the cord out of the back.  Please be quiet.

I've barely been awake for thirty minutes before my cell phone starts buzzing and humming.  Questions already?  My boss must know everything under the sun, ASAP and FYI and ETA, btw.  Nothing can wait and why should it?  Not when the answers can be had, must be had, right now.  Text me. Email me.  Call me.  I MUST KNOW!

The more I search for silence on days like these, the more the noise finds me.  Get over yourself, it says, and deal with me.  Deal with us.  And answer these questions while you're at it. 

What time is my job?
Where are my keys?
Where is his lunchbox?
Is this the last week of school?
Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean?
Is the coffee fresh?
Did Robert go to work today?
Do you have breakfast bars?
Are you okay?
What's wrong?
Are you mad at me?
What time is dinner?
What's for dinner?
Did you take my dress to have it altered?
Where's that invoice?
Who are you talking to?
Seen my belt?
Do you have any ideas on how to increase business?

And the garbage truck, brakes squealing, is barreling down the road for what seems like the 100th time in an hour, picking up empty pizza boxes, bags of lawn trimmings, and all the other debris from people trying to cram all the fun and work they can into two days.  Before Monday.  Before the world comes crashing in again with all of its demands and noise and days like these. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Riding Away My Mid-Life Blues

"In what seems like a cruel trick of timing, women often find themselves letting go of their daughters around the same time they must let go of their identities as younger women."

~Sue Monk Kidd
Traveling with Pomegranates

So that's where I've been this last year.  I know, 47 isn't so old, but I prepare for things in advance.   And 47 is a halfway mark.  At least I hope it is.  I've been raising children for 25 years.  A gazillion packed lunches, scraped knees and science projects.  Most of that time I've been a single mother and the pace and work has been relentless.  It's no wonder when things came to a screeching halt I lost my mojo.  I "took to the couch" for most of the winter, and into the early spring.  No crying, really.  No wailing.  Comfortably numb sums it up perfectly.  A re-defining must be taking place, I think. 

But I couldn't wallow on my comfy couch forever.  I had to move.  Force myself to sit up and put one leg over the side and then the other leg.  I needed to plant my feet firmly on the floor and pull myself up.  And then what?  Every possibility I could come up with was met with a half-ass shrug and a "meh".  I didn't feel like stringing three words together.  Or reading a book.  Mostly, I watched mindless, bad reality shows of the "Real Housewives of..." variety.  Really bad.  But somehow, those plastic, loud-mouthed, fake-tanned drama queens made me feel a little better.  They have everything money can buy and still so unhappy.  And they don't even know it, for the most part.  After awhile, I googled "low energy" and decided I must be in need of B complex.  One day my daughter came home from school and found me in my usual spot on the couch, an open bottle of B Complex lying on the floor surrounded by Lindt chocolate truffle wrappers.  She looked worried, asked if I was okay.  Again with the half-ass shrug and "meh".

I had to do something.  I had to move.  I needed to ease myself back into the land of the living.  So I rolled my bike out of the garage, filled my water bottle, strapped my iphone to the handle bars, turned on my tunes and plugged in my earbuds.

Slowly, a little more daily, I began to shake away the numbness.  There is just something about riding my bike that makes me so happy and strong.  I love the crunch of big, fat Magnolia leaves under my tires.  And when it rains, there's nothing like riding through puddles and feeling the water from the back tire spray onto my back.  The world is teeming with life.  People watering their front lawns smile and wave.  Squirrels dart in and out of the street.  Babies being pushed around in strollers give me the biggest grins as I ride by, like I'm a miracle on wheels.   My heart starts pumping and my muscles sing.  I feel the warmth of the sun and my music is always in the background.  Each day I look forward to my bike ride like a new adventure.

What I'm learning as I ease into this next phase of my life is really simple.  Although a trip to Italy, Eat, Pray, Love style, would be nice to shake off my mid-life blues,  or a shiny new convertible or a new career, I really just need to move.  To be present.  To be grateful.  To challenge myself.

To take one day at a time as the gift that it is and make it my adventure.  Even if that adventure is nothing more than a bike ride around my neighborhood.  It's all in the perspective.  And age?  It really is just a number. 

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Young Love Stinks

I was asleep on the couch when my daughter, Sara, burst in the front door and said, "Mama?"  Her voice was broken.  She only calls me Mama when something is wrong.  When she feels small and afraid.  She quickly walked to the couch and I enfolded her in my arms because she had already started crying.  She cried on my shoulder for 10 minutes.  She sobbed.   Gut-wrenching, heart-breaking sobs that shook her body and mine.   At first, I kept whispering, "What is it?  What's wrong, baby?" but after a few minutes, I knew.  I knew the only thing that could produce that kind of crying comes from a broken heart.  And I started to cry, too because oh, man, do I remember how that feels.  I remember the physical pain that resulted the first time a boy broke my heart into. 

They never stop being your babies.  Really.  You never stop hurting for them.  Or wanting to hurt others on their behalf.  As I write this, his car is parked on the street in front of our house.  She left with a friend after she stopped crying and he stayed with his friend.  The blinds are open and I'm watching for him.  Waiting for him to slink by and pick it up.  I imagine throwing open the front door and staring him down, Clint Eastwood style, my right hand poised above the six-shooter that rests on my hip.  I walk slowly to the car and remind him of the time I told him that if he ever hurt my daughter, I would look for him.  And I would kill him (yes, I love that movie).  Time to pay up, little man.  You little, little, man.

It still amazes me that my gut turns somersaults, that my brain can think of nothing else, that I still feel the tug of the cord when my children are hurting.  Sometimes, I become immobilized with fear when I imagine the years ahead for my three kids and the pain that will surely come their way.  I'd take it all on for them if I could.  If only. 

But I can't.  I can't.  I knew this boy would be the one to break her heart.  I'd hoped he wouldn't.  But I could tell by the way her eyes lit up when she mentioned his name.  And she mentioned it often, she looked for ways to mention his name.  The way her whole countenance changed when he walked in the front door.  The way she's been softer, kinder, happier since she started dating him.  Suddenly, the whole world looks rosier when you're in love.  I remember.  And everything looks darker, more sinister, when it's taken away.

I want to tell her that it'll get easier with time.  That he doesn't deserve her.  That he must not be the right one.  But yet, something stops me.  It isn't time yet.  I don't want to diminish her pain with trite little pieces of advice that only make the hurt worse right now.  So I'll wait.  I'll hug her.  And love her.

And I'll keep looking through the blinds.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Preparing for the Empty Nest

It's time for me to write.  The last year has flown by and it's been a strange, new place for me.  So I've hunkered down.  Laid low.  After my oldest daughter left for college, it was time for me to focus on my youngest daughter.  It's her senior year.  I could go on and on about how different she and her sister are but long story short, there is no focusing on Sara.  She's a closed book for the most part.  She has been since about 9th grade.  "I've got this, Mom" is her favorite thing to say to me.  And she usually does.  Eventually. 

My grandson, who's been with me nearly everyday since birth, started Pre-K this year so I have been left to my own devices.  I've been waiting to have some time alone for a long time.  Twenty-five years to be exact.  And it floored me.  Or maybe, couched me is a more accurate term since that's where I've spent the majority of my time.  Depressed?  Not exactly.  Mid-life crisis?  Maybe.  Grieving the loss of my older daughter  and preparing for the loss of my youngest?  Probably.  Bored?  Most definitely.  And that last one, that's the one that gets me.  I'm embarrassed to say it.  Most of my friends are close to my age and still have young children at home and not a moment for themselves and I'm bored?  How silly.  But there it is.  It's been a sort of numb, limbo, transitional, odd land that I've been inhabiting lately.  I'm coming back though.  Slowly but surely. 

Sara graduates in three weeks.  She leaves for college in August.  I've got seven more lunches to prepare and then that phase of my life is over.  I've been the Queen of Lunches, you can ask my kids.  I may have failed in a lot of areas of parenting, but not lunches.  Hell no.  I rule. 

Stevey completes her first year of college in May and then she's off to Los Angeles for two months for an internship.  I'm so proud of her.  It's been a difficult adjustment for her but she's handled every bump so well.  So maturely.  And our relationship has changed.  She doesn't seem to dislike me as much as she did when she lived at home.  Imagine that. 

I have much to say about teenagers, daughters, mid-life crisis and how to pull yourself out of a deep, dark well and what comes after but for now, I'm alive, I'm moving.  I'm off the couch. 

And so glad summer is almost here.