Space to Dream

Posted on April 29, 2016

I remember watching the adventures of the attendees of BlogHer 2007 from a distance. I had not said out loud that I wanted to go, which was unfair because when I did it was too late. I robbed Sean of the chance to support me and I robbed myself of the permission to quest. Since then I have attended at least 4 BlogHer conferences and today I am sitting at the Mom2.0 Summit.

This time is sacred, not for the mind-boggling accommodations at The Ritz or the incredible programming, or the bubbly people eager to talk about their brands; for me it is sacred because it represents a yes from my family, my business partners, and myself. I am here and not there, though anyone who has seen me face-timing, cooing at bunnies to snap pictures and send them to the girls, or running my hand along my purse borrowed from Briar, you can see I am also there.

Space

One of the themes I have heard several times here is that all of us need to find ways to scoot all the things in our life away just a touch, “I love you and right now I am taking care of me” (thanks Jessica!) The to-dos and the shoulds, the have-tos and the but-you-promiseds. It is essential that we have time, whether it is to write, to play guitar, to dance, or to wonder.

I am aware of each minute here and like a drop of water, they seem to roll about, changing color and threatening to burst. There is sadness and joy in each one, and I accept and honor that duality, because that is what life and writing are for me. Being here, invisibly flanked by my family and palpably cloaked in my longing to have time and be a template for a fully realized life to my girls, is very special to me.

Whatever happens tonight with the awards will not take away from the absolute clarity of time and offered, received, and honored vulnerability.

 

My Vote

Posted on April 19, 2016

On Tuesday September 4th, 1984 I was 11 years old. My babysitter Allison Dodge took me to a rally in downtown Eugene to see Geraldine Ferraro. I had grown up in a family deeply invested in social justice, with my grandparents campaigning, contributing, and passionately advocating for everything from women’s rights to the plight of farm workers to student activism. I remember my mom hissing at a broadcast of an interview with Phyllis Schlafly. Ultimately, it wasn’t so much the issues that I was being taught, as it was the idea that we have the privilege and duty to use our voices and our hearts to make the world a better place. Every time we don’t act or speak up, we are not carrying our weight.

Vote

As an adult I understand more keenly that our visions for “a better world” will vary greatly. I knew it as we prepared our daughters for the reality that not all of their classmates would be supportive of a gay marriage. I’ve known it as I have chosen to have children and a career. I’ve known it as I advocate for more truth-telling in the divide between white and black America. I’ve also known it as someone who believes that there is such a thing as rape culture.

I remember asking my grandfather a question about choice. I was confused about the pro-choice vs pro-life language. He explained very evenly that those of us who believe in a woman’s right to choice place the emphasis on the word choice and that the people who use the term pro-life do so because their emphasis is on the unborn life. He was gentle as he said, “I am not anti-life, just as I don’t truly believe that others are anti-choice.” It has helped me through the years to not be vicious. I think politics, faith, and the spectrum of morality have become exceedingly vicious in our country.

I don’t hold any side less culpable in the hate, we all carry that weight. I cannot control how others behave, but I can speak up. I have held my ground in twitter battles as I have been called hideous names. I do not name call. I have apologized when I have been wrong. The girls are listening and learning, moving from very simplistic Republican vs Democrat viewpoints to learning more about issues and the grayness that exists in the spaces between parties, beliefs, and individuals. They are exploring, sometimes with more candor than I might have. They are refreshingly unweighted by fear of some sort of later-date retribution, which brings a much-needed honesty to the surface. That being said, I still warn them about what their opinions and actions can mean, as well as the fact that speaking up isn’t the same for everyone—there are differences between men and women, black people and white people, young and old, gay, trans, bi, or straight.

I was not an Obama supporter at first, but I came around. My first choice had been Hillary Clinton. I have been grateful for all that the Obama family has done, including paving the way to this election.

Today I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton.

#Imwithher

The Answers Are All Around Us

Posted on April 15, 2016

 

 

Bending

 

Listening to the girls talk about their days at school, I wince at the ongoing drama from their bus rides, I feel the weight of the things one daughter wants to sign up for, and the complete lack of interest another daughter has in anything organized.

 Are they doing enough? Too much? Should I push harder? If I say yes to this, will it fix that? Too late to bed? 

This doesn’t even begin to cover the cloud of marriage and self.

Am I giving enough to either for fulfillment? Can I separate parenting and partnering without guilt? Can I take care of myself and my marriage? How can I stretch to do this? 

My heart and mind collide again and again, battering my resolve and my body. Tugs, cracks, splinters, and fatigue. I make these choices with eyes wide open, but I resent them. Looking for someone to blame or a specific thing to lament, all I see is my own wake.

The dust I kick up trying to solve things keeps me from seeing. I miss that not all things need fixing, some are meant to be survived; it is living. The easy way is tempting, but it doesn’t get us anywhere. I long for my girls not to hurt, but I want them to have the strength and confidence that comes from survival.

I stood waiting for the bus yesterday and found myself drawn to a spindly birch tree. It was bent nearly in half, craning out and toward the light. As I scanned the woods to see the tree’s base, the sun made rat-a-tat-tat pulses on my face through the pine boughs. I heard a woodpecker and ducked my head right and left to try and find it in the tallest limbs. The sun kept hitting my face and as I squinted I laughed.

Everything that I am going through is like the birch tree. It is bending and extending to find the sun, learning to live with the moss that grows at its feet, and coping with heavier, dense branches that hold it back. Like that birch, I am understanding that life comes with cracks. Some of the cracks leave marks on us and others let the light warm our skin.

 

Nothing Lost About This Girl

Posted on April 12, 2016

I saw something shared online today that made me laugh out loud. The title was Study Finds Every Style of Parenting Produces Disturbed, Miserable Adults and despite my optimistic heart, I know it has shades of truth. I’ve made a concerted effort to try and identify the areas I think I need to work on the most—calling myself stupid, being vocal about not liking how I look, and not thinking about the implication of something before I say it out loud. The truth is I have been doing a really great job.

Yes, I still struggle.
Yes, I still have an internal voice that could peel paint and melt ice.

The thing is, striving to not perpetuate certain things for my daughters has allowed me to caretake myself in a way that I have never done before. I don’t mean taking time to luxuriate in a bath or unapologetically answer no to a request so that I can do something for myself (baby steps) but I have been tender and considered that I am worthy of a kind word.

I might go so far as to say that I started getting smug about how the girls and I have been doing. We’ve talked about sex. We’ve talked about drugs. We’ve talked about mean girls and aggressive boys. We’ve talked about family dynamics. I’ve explained why work is important to me. We explored why family is sometimes all we have. Today after seeing an “Obama-Mart” bumper sticker we talked about the merits of fiscally conservative viewpoints even though they are counter to just about everything that I believe to be true. I want my daughters to be aware of a larger picture.

They know I smoked. They know I dated guys before Sean. They know that one day I will die. I say none of this to posture about being perfect, but I really thought I had smacked with a mallet all the predictable screw ups. I also know there is no perfect parenting, no matter how hard I try or how much I sacrifice.

When I’m in the car with Briar I see her without filter. She is ravenous for time with me, but she is also eerily able to completely tune me out and in those moments, when I look beyond the sting I feel, I see a young woman. Her current infatuation musically is Lost Boy. It’s a gorgeous wisp of a song, quiet and gentle, but with a crescendo of subtext that puts our divide in relief—she is a soon-to-be-teenager and I am not.

I watch her brow furrow and her lips purse as she hits the lines in the song she loves the most. She looks ahead not at the road, but at what I imagine is the future as she contemplates growing up, staying young, and the torture of the middleness of where she is now.

 

The other day we were goofing around and she apologized. She said “Sorry” when there was absolutely nothing for which to apologize. I winced.

“I may start introducing you as my daughter, Sorry. Yup, this is my daughter Sorry, she likes to apologize for everything.” She tilted her head my way and bonked it against my side.

“Mom!”

We laughed.

“Seriously though, honey, knock it off. Save your sorry for when it matters. I love you.”

She smiled and stared at me. “Ok, mom, I love you too. So much.”

I smiled and ran my hand along the top of her head. I felt good, confident in our path.

Less than 24 hours later I was waiting for her in my car at the bus stop as the sky unlocked a furious rain. She was lamenting the ongoing annoyances of the bus ride. I have been caught in a swirl of eliminating the bus and using it to condition all three girls to stick up for themselves, both options feel flawed and so we go back and forth. Some days they are pick ups, others they ride the bus.

My phone beeped.

IMG_3919

 

I had to read it a couple of times to realize that she had put together that I apologize a lot for things that are not my fault and, are in fact, entirely out of my control.

It hurt at first. A habit of mine I had overlooked entirely. She called me on it in the lightest and yet most direct way imaginable. There was no denying it. I sat with my guilt at the absentminded sorry habit and felt my pride that she identified it.

She needs me, but more and more she needs herself. She is calibrating how she reads situations and opportunities and if I try to force my views on her, she won’t ever develop those skills. I realize that I don’t need to worry about her missing out, I need to worry more about my tendency to superimpose the things I think are most threatening. I can’t see the truth if I construct a false image of the present.

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What I can see is that my first born is smart, strong, resilient, and truly wise beyond what I give her credit for on a given day.

 

 

 

Your Horn Won’t Toot Itself

Posted on April 8, 2016

There are things I have learned to temper, my anger, for instance. That big old bag of indignation doesn’t have to be front and center at all times. I save it, because every little thing doesn’t deserve my whole heart and voice, but the things that deserve it will get it. I also pace myself on projects. Ok, that’s kind of not true, but I think about slowing down and making sure I don’t overdo it before actually overdoing it. Mostly this is the right decision for me.Scootering

 

That whole first paragraph up there? That is me avoiding what I came here to do, which is to crow about something that delights me. It more than delights me, it floors me and lifts me up, and makes me feel like, “Hot damn, I thought I was fading.”

I have been nominated for an Iris Award.:

Congratulations! You were selected and recognized as a 2016 Iris Awards nominee for the distinguished Breakout of the Year Iris Award®, one of the year’s greatest achievements in parenting blogging as determined by your peers and leaders in media, journalism, marketing and the creative arts.  

IrisAwards-winner-nominee-FINAL-2016

 

I may have done one of those cartoonish rubbing of my eyes to make sure it was really me. I sputtered about it a bit and my internet and real life, super idol Amy Vernon quickly chimed in telling me that I was amazing and then kicking my butt with a directive to “Own it!

I want to, I want all of us to. I don’t mean it in an everybody gets an award way, I mean it in terms of allowing for celebration of moments. I don’t care if it’s walking around the block, speaking in public, signing divorce papers, quitting smoking or getting a promotion. If you did it, sweating the sweat, crying the tears, making it 1000 consecutive days, or writing the words, own it.

Take the time to pat yourself on the back or to hiss a powerful, “Damn straight.”

I found out about the award exactly a week ago and have been in varying states of disbelief, euphoria, and poo-pooing ever since. My mom sent me link to an article about the Super New Moon in Aries. There was a line that jumped out at me:

Sometimes the best thing we can do is close our eyes, hope for the best and jump.

Twenty days from now I’ll board a plane bound for California. I have a room booked for myself and a return flight less than 48 hours later out of the airport I used to fly into to visit my grandparents. There will be all sorts of emotions, nerves, awkwardness, all the stuff that comes with being alive and putting yourself out there, but mostly I am counting on savoring this moment, hoping for the best, and jumping into my next adventure.

 

 

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