What I’ve Gained

I have an amazon photos account that links to my tv as a screen saver. Usually, I thoroughly enjoy this feature as I get sweet surprises in the faces of our children growing up way too fast, looking at me from the past and reminding me my babies are still in there under the gangly legs and immense attitudes.

But today I had to go searching through the photos, trying to find one specifically. I scrolled through 3 years. And my mood slowly tanked during the process.

I used to be so beautiful. I had a jawline. And clavicles. My goddess, my clavicles. My body was full of elegant lines. And now. Now.

My jawline is not sharp. My clavicles are not pronounced. My lines are not elegant.

But.

My smile is more frequent. And genuine. My ass has filled out in a very pleasing manor. I am full. Full of food because I actually eat now. Full of love because I’m not busy hating myself. Full of deep thoughts.

Less full of tears.

More full of prozac.

You couldn’t pay me to go back. The times were wild. My brain was a primordial mess of trying to grapple with deconstructing my (once deeply held) religion, my partner was exploring polyamory and I was losing a battle to hormone shifts and undiagnosed depression and anxiety, we had two kids in diapers, and a total lack of friend network.

So to have a frank conversation with my brain, I want to remind myself of all that I’ve gained.

Yes. I have gained 20lbs. I have gained sanity. Confidence. Peace. I have found spirituality that is genuine, and not harmful to outcasts and minorities. I have found my people, and have friends that know me and see me and love me. And support me. I cannot say this enough, but friends who support your autonomy because they do not have an agenda for you and your life – essential. *makes mental note to make a separate post about that* I have found patience with myself, grace for the beauty that is the messiness of life, and room for all. of. me.

I have gained 20lbs and the courage to exist. Loudly. Boldly. Unapologetically. Whatever the word for “not demurely” is. And more. I can confidently parent my children. I have faith in my own worth and goodness and have thriving relationships. I do not have mental breakdowns multiple times a week. I have and maintain boundaries. I no longer people please myself into meltdowns. I laugh. Out loud. Often. I orgasm during sex. Also loudly.

I wake up achy and sore and feeling older than I am – but also immensely happy. Bad days are just bad days now, not the end of the world.

And now, as I look back, and see just how far I’ve come I am squeezing every squishy part of me and thanking it. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Every ounce of you is precious.

Maman

An explanation, followed by a thought: how I have to begin almost every conversation because *my brain*.

The explanation: So recently I rediscovered my love of all things Star Trek. Okay, not all things. My love for Shatner (and right here, I’m sorry George Takai, I think you are a phenomenal human being but hoooooly shit Sulu in TOS is creep af. Fight me.) and Pine as Kirk, and my enduring love for Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in all of his 1990’s glory. *Of note, it seems there is a glitch in my brain somehow related to Chris Pine. I can go literal years without crying, but put on one of the Star Trek reboots or god forbid WW84 and boom – waterworks.*

Hold up. Mama needs to google something. *sips cold brew with trepidation* Oh thank goddess. He is older than me. Praise. Life is as it should be. I’m not cougar-ing Hollywood hunks yet.

Anyway, now that I am an adult and decide how I spend about 30-45 minutes of each day not currently consumed by kids – I plan on watching my way through all of the Star Trek series, so I’m warning you now, there are going to be random thoughts about Star Trek for a whiiiiiile.

The thought: Last night I was watching TNG Season 1 Ep 5 and in it, Capt. Picard sees his long dead mother. Due to the fact that it was a 90’s drama set not only in the distant future and of course, outer space, the dialogue is not always the most natural. That being said, there was an exchange where his mother tells him, “But I’m always with you. You know that.”

He responds with, “Yes, I’ve felt that.”

And I’ve heard this more times than I can count in pop culture as well as personal references. The ones we love don’t really leave us. They are always with us.

And I find myself desperately hoping it isn’t true.

I love my kids more than the English language has absurdities. I love my children more than I could ever, EVER possibly hope to convey in pixelated words on a screen. It is too big. It is not physically possible. Love is an anomaly in the universe and my love for my children could consume the entirety of all matter and energy whole and still have room for more.

And yet, haunt their asses? Spend double my life span here on earth to send them the occasional butterfly?

The thought of my father, trapped by his love for me, forced to watch my life in minute detail without influence or comment makes me almost physically ill. (Not to mention mildly creeped out. I have a healthy sex life, I do not want to imagine a cosmic audience of even one. Especially not that one.)

No, fram, I don’t believe that’s how it works. I don’t think their love ever leaves us. My father’s love will never leave me because that was the only part of him that was mine. The rest of him was his.

And love… love is one of the great mysteries of the world. It is more than a feeling. More than a direct flow of oxytocin into the brain. More than a tender touch. More than the sleepless nights. More than the fear of a life without them. Love changes us. It changes us on the giving end as well as the receiving. It is transforming. Whether it’s the love of a parent or a partner or a friend, we are not the same.

So to believe that love stays when the person moves on… that makes sense. To believe that love compels them to remain in a strange half life while awaiting the death of their progeny? Perhaps their grandchildren? I’m not entirely sure at what point said ghost would decide they were no longer interested in haunting their descendants, not to mention the relative complications in haunting more than one generation as they multiply.

On top of it all, as a mother consumed by love with her children – I am more than their mother. I cannot say it any louder or any clearer. There is more to me than being a mom. I existed before them and continue to exist outside of them. It blows their little minds that I have an entire set of preferences, hobbies, humor, and relationships outside of them, but it’s true. I will have a full life when they no longer fill up 95% of my conscious moments. I will continue to create, think, laugh, and have immense amounts of meaning whether they are present or not.

I realize that watching through a window for the rest of my children’s lives would be but a blip on the vast landscape that is eternity. I also realize that the only thing I could do from that window was love them. And that I will love them, endlessly, eternally, consummately, whether I am watching them or not. And that even in eternity, especially in eternity, there will be more to do than watch.

Binary

It’s 10:47am.

I took the word “should” out of my vocabulary about 6 months ago, and fram, it’s a game changer. That being said, I had scheduled school for right now. (My kids are homeschooled, for clarity.) And clearly, not doing school. Writing. Writing for sanity. Writing for breath. Writing to avoid burnout because if I just push through it I think I might actually go insane.

Today did not start the best. I had to have stern words with an insurance adjuster, my partner was cranky this morning because he also had to deal with shitty car stuff, the depression is thick, the groceries do not magically make themselves into meals like they ought, the headache is real, and the allergies are brutal. Add in a 5 year old and a 7 year old who have the *audacity* to ask me to get them the switch before I have gotten halfway through my dirty Rasa because, “but I just woke up” and today feels completely undoable.

Days like today, balance doesn’t seem possible. I have no idea how I’m supposed to honor my body and my emotions and my brain being low on the good chemicals with the fact that life has to go on and my kids need to learn and completely disconnecting so I can go on a stress cleaning binge just isn’t optimal parenting.

And how do you reason with a brain attempting to sabotage you? If I consider writing today off and focusing on mental health and parenting my brain comes at me with “Didn’t we just have a weekend? What did you do then?” And like, fuck you, brain. We cleaned the house, did errands, grocery shopped, made 3 meals a day, and budgeted. Just because we didn’t do school does not make it a day off, ffs. And if I consider pushing through to at least get school done, my brain goes off in the other direction. “Well, that’s not a good thing to teach the kids, is it? Just ignore your mental health and push through, kids. Checking tasks off the list is what matters, not health.” Again, fuck you, brain.

Instead, of doing either of those things, because my immediate responses to all kinds of stress tend to be binary, I sat down and wrote. The kids went to play outside because even my brain cannot find a fault with delaying the start of school by an hour or so while the kids enjoy the very last of the decent weather before Texan summer comes in to roast their little bodies and force them indoors for months on end.

Take a deep breath. And as my fight or flight response calmed, I remembered that I don’t have to write the whole day off to honor my emotions. I can take a break. I can adjust. I have the time. And I don’t have to just ignore them either. I can adjust. Doing school after lunch is not going to waste the whole day. Taking a few minutes, even a few hours, to plan in order to soothe nerves, to cuddle to calm emotions and try – just try – to both honor and continue moving – is doable. Today might go completely off the rails, no matter how I adjust. It’s life. With kids. Completely off the rails happens more often than I would like. But it’s not the end of the world.

So I’m going to breathe, hydrate, make a few lists, and make some lunch. Then, I’m going to try again.

Shallow Breaths 2

Continuing from yesterday:

There are so many ways I could improve my parenting. Just. A literal mountain of ways. And know there will be apologies offered now, and later, for my kids pointing out some fucked up shit that I did. Like asking them, “whaaaaaaaaat in the ever living fuck is it now?!” on the 13th time I am interrupted while trying to do dishes while they scream at each other about whose pillow is better. Kids will be kids and they are constantly learning and hoooooly shit I need to be better about separating my sensory overwhelm from their typical kid shit.

But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna get called out twenty years from now because I wasn’t actively involving them in absolutely every single thing I did. Be it cooking, cleaning, gardening, writing, planning, grocery shopping, napping, praying, researching, etc to the never ending list that makes up a full ass human experience.

I’m going to take a shot of espresso here and just chalk it up to teaching my kids boundaries. There are times to help mama. There are times to play independently. There are times to listen and times to be loud. There are times mama needs *real* help and times she needs sticky fingered hugs. There are times she needs to be alone. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, in learning about boundaries with them, in trying and failing, I will raise humans who will not be afraid of saying “no” when unreasonable things are expected of them. (Like doing absolutely everything with mildly incompetent little elves who ask questions that are completely irrelevant 35824592745x a minute while you are attempting to show them how to life.) Whether it’s bosses or partners or friends or governments, the little ones will see that love and yes are not the same thing.

I’m going to say it louder for those in the back.

Love and Yes are not the same thing. Trust and yes are not the same thing. Loyalty and yes are not the same thing. In a world where more is constantly for sale, no is the answer.

I honestly think if I said “no” more, I wouldn’t necessarily get caught into sensory overwhelm and yell at my kids. I will continue to say no for my mental health. I will continue to say no as I learn how to truly love instead of enable. I will continue to apologize for when I say no in not healthy ways and perhaps at the wrong times. But I’m not going to apologize for saying no.

So, I’m going to finish my Rasa and tell my kids they can wait for mom to be ready, just this one day, and understand that having boundaries is absolutely necessary in loving myself. Cheers mamas.

Shallow Breaths 1

One of the Authors I look up to the most described her start in writing as the place she could breathe. The place she could be absolutely honest. The place she can lower her defenses long enough to survive the rest of life.

I have continued to sit with this for a couple of days, most notably for the reason that a friend sent me an article about ausitic “masking”. Here is the link. And holy hell I felt seen.

So I started thinking, how much do I breathe? Sadly, the answer seemed to be “not much”. I breathe at the end of the day when I have two children sleeping next to me a some low pressure British reality TV show playing in the background and I contemplate whether or not I should go to sleep as I am so tired life is blurry.

That’s… not cool. And certainly not healthy. And I can blame children and schedules and my Taurean need for excessive amounts of sleep and everything else. And for a long time I have told myself that its just not my season for writing. But if writing is where I can breathe… and one of the only places I can breathe… then every season is the season for writing. Because every season is the season for breathing.

Let us breathe.

And, in all honesty, let’s begin with some shallow breaths. Because while yoga would have us believe that you can just slow down and immediately start that shit, I would contend that in this analogy, we cannot start with deep breaths. Deep breaths require a level of focus not found in the five minute gasps we grant ourselves in quiet moments and in the learning how to take off our masks and in pulling the truth from outside of us to lay on a page and present to the world.

Shallow breaths, on the other hand, doable.

For instance: I consume damn near every article I find about “picky eaters” because I was one and seem to be raising one. Now, admittedly, as a white woman, I manage to take everything too personally, so please hold that information as I go on. This last article I was reading started with acknowledging that dinner was often a fight in her household, with her father being extremely strict and forcing her to sit at the table for hours to eat perfectly good food that her mother had prepared but that could often have uncomfortable and unexpected textures that would make the food hella unappetizing. I nodded to myself. This battle would make food difficult for anyone, especially a child. But then the author completely switched gears and blamed the mom. It was mom’s fault. Mom never let her into the kitchen. Mom ran a one woman show in there and if she could have only helped prepare the food then maybe, maybe she would have been more adventurous.

So, of course, I applied this directly to myself and my picky eater. And called bullshit. Again, I understand this was not written about me and my picky eater. I have absolutely no idea what the rest of the author’s home life was like. How much time she spent there. Whether the power struggles extended to her clothes, friends, hobbies, etc. If she had siblings who were also picky eaters or whether they were vacuum cleaners who tried everything put in front of them. Even acknowledging these unknowns, I call bullshit.

I try to let the kids into the kitchen. I want them to learn skills. I want to share this with them. But goddess dammit sometimes it is just my happy place and I need to be alone in it. I am beyond blessed to have the most helpful children. Who are home with me, all day, because we homeschool, and love being by my side. And its amazing.

And exhausting as every living fuck.

“Moms, it might slow you down a little. It might require patience. But inviting kids into the kitchen could change their whole perspective about the world of food.”

“Might?” Fucking might? Have you tried going on a walk with children without being slowed down? Cool, let’s now add raw meat, hot pans, time sensitive steps, sharp knives, and brains still developing so listening skills are not at their absolute best. I mean, sounds like a great fucking time. An awesome way to wind down at the end of the day where you have given your family your absolute all and helped them identify their emotions and set up art/science projects, joined them in the constant clean up efforts to keep your house from becoming a safety hazard, clutched your heart as they learn skills like bike riding and climbing by failing a few times before flying and know you *have* to let them get a little hurt. Hard fucking pass fram. Mom’s are allowed sanity time, and allowed to have it in the kitchen while making food for everyone else.

Especially because let’s face it – mom’s dinner is not where we learn “adventurous eating”. I make the same 20ish dishes in various forms on a cycle of repeat. My mom did the same thing. As did her mom. As does every cooking mom I know. We cook from our comfort zone.

If anything, my picky eater is more adventurous when we eat out than when we eat at home for the *lack* of being able to peek behind the veil. And whether home or out, it is his autonomy that drives what he eats and what he doesn’t. Safe, secure, confident, good day? High chance he will try a new food. Bad, sad, hard day? Bring on the chicken nuggets. Because he’s a person and frankly most adults operate that way too. I want comfort food at the end of a hard day. Not because I’m afraid to try new things, but because emotionally I gain comfort from the familiar instead of expending energy on the unknown.

So… can we not blame a mom jiving to her own beat for a half an hour preparing food for a family that may or may not fully appreciate the effort? Can we acknowledge that not only is that not how human psychology works, but that requesting that *every* activity be made about the child we teach children and ourselves that boundaries aren’t important when they really, really are?

“Thank you, but now is not a great time to help mommy. I don’t want you to get hurt, but also, I really need this time for me. This is some me time. I would love you to help me another time, though.”

I’m all about opinion pieces. And acknowledge and understand that everyone’s experience is unique and this author might have been desperate for a peek behind the veil and, I dare say, some connection time with her mother.

At the same time, I feel the need the point out that the endless power struggles with her father and the implied lack of autonomy miiiiiiiight have been a driving factor in the need to control what graced her lips? Just me? Cool.

To adults with mother wounds: I am sorry and hold space for you.

To mothers: I see you especially. We are doing the best we can in a society that robs us of our resources and guilts us for fighting for our own sanity and space. You keep doing you.

To picky eaters: the world is full of so many things to experience and enjoy. If you like ordering chicken nuggets everywhere you go – you do you and fuck the haters. So long as your mind is open to other people doing things differently than you and still being valid, honestly, you’re doing better than a lot of the world.

Not Dead Yet

In a perfect storm of bad timing, I got a bunch of new followers in the middle of a time when I had so much on my plate that writing got shoved right off of it. Long story short: we all got COVID! I had mild cold symptoms for a few days and then promptly lost my sense of smell and taste. The kids each had a fever for about a day, and then they were completely fine. Satya just got really tired, but pretty sure that was less COVID related and more to do with the fact that she was taking care of Eilan 24/7. Speaking of Eilan, he got hella sick and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. He’s home now, recovering, and – blessedly – off oxygen! Which is the shortest recap of a month long saga in the history of my writing, but it’s what I’ve got.

In other news, today is a day of mourning for me. Winter seems to have passed WELL BEFORE HER TIME and that bitch Spring is already moving in. I am not okay. I’m gonna have to mow next week and GAH JUST NO. NO. It is JANUARY. And I need to be thinking of when and how to begin planting my garden. And while this is usually something that brings me joy, despite the fact that I am planting a future graveyard of plants that have no chance in hell’s chance of surviving, let alone bearing edible fruit, today there is no joy. Just a simmering resentment at the lack of cold and the fact that I’m going to have to fight my other two partners to not turn on the AC later this afternoon.

Today I am not just on the struggle bus, I am driving it and this is the bus from Speed. There is no slowing down. There is no getting off. There is just endless pedal to the metal refusing to even consider an off ramp. All without Keanu Reeves to make it better. Buckle up, bitches.

To make it even worse, I cannot describe to you how awful eating is without taste. It’s doable, but terrible. It’s a great diet plan, if that’s your kind of thing. Because when you can neither smell nor taste your sugar, it becomes an unpleasant glob in your mouth that is completely unworth the effort of chewing. And so I find myself rather unwillingly on the ‘everything is tasteless’ train. Blegh. That being said, when the only difference between a kale salad and some pie is texture, it’s really easy to pick the salad. The salad at least doesn’t make me angry that I can’t taste it.

When my prozac and sugar cannot help us, what is a mom to do? Target, if I’m being honest. A few days ago I rage bought 14 organizational tubs of various sizes to try to once and for all organize the kids’ room. While rage buying off the app, I also saw some STEM activities hella discounted and rage bought those too. Which ended up being today’s saving grace. Invent, children. Craft in your super clean room. Let mom rage type into her computer and talk to her internet friends while you see how much glue it takes to put a googly eye on a sparkly pom pom.

And also Nintendo. I’m sorry if you are PC gamers, or XBox folks, or Playstation peeps, but the Switch is just unbeatable when it comes to gaming when parenting. It’s portable, for one. So I can sit on the couch and cuddle and do it while NOT taking up a TV screen. I can pause instantly and repeatedly and just walk away for two hours and come pick it back up with 0 consequence. Animal Crossing? Hell yes, dinosaur obsessed daughter, let’s take a walk through the museum and see which fossils we still need to find. Let’s chat with that super cute cat and run away from the bear with the grinch eyebrows. And currently losing myself in My Time In Portia, which, frankly, is one of my favorite games of all time and YES I DID buy the sequel on kickstarter slated for 2022. SO WHAT.

To be clear, I’m not getting any sort of kickback for my advertising. I wish. I’m just being honest about what’s working over here. And it’s not the essential oils I cannot smell, it’s not meditation, it’s not nature. It’s gaming and independent play for my youngins. And by independent play I also mean shouting “GO PLAY OUTSIDE” at the top of my lungs and then contemplating (but never following through) with locking them out. So I guess nature might be helping them. When it’s not raining and gross outside. I digress.

All of this to say, I’m not dead yet. I’m here. I post rather constantly in my stories on Insta and respond quickly to questions about polyamory and parenting and politics. I am determined to get back on a schedule for writing and pumping out content.

Question is: what do you want to read about?