smokes, let's go
My children are my everything to me. They leave me helpless and I’m always treading water trying to make it work. I have never struggled so much nor done such a poor job or found more endless reasons to triumph above my own meager failures. I pretty much don’t give a damn about what anyone thinks about me but I am occasionally tortured by the fact that so much of how I behave matters to them a great deal. There’s nothing I can do to change that. I just have to pray for their safety, somehow. The world isn’t really safe and neither am I.
I didn’t know the meaning of the word “responsibility” until I had children. From the moment they were born: 24/7. I have never caught up. Not even close.
Our family life is idyllic; it is messy but full of life. The children are a constant flux of love and quarrel; of seeing the goodness in everything day after day. How do they do that?
Our newest little babies; they too are making a home for themselves.
This picture is kind of great. It sums up my private life. A horrible B-movie. A sleeping little one. My bills organized in old cigar boxes.
The children find a new kind of beetle: a new kind of bug to my eyes, on a regular basis. And I’ve lived around these parts twenty-five years!
A friend brings me some homemade vanilla syrup; coincidentally, I have homemade blackberry syrup. The two sit companionably side-by-side until one leaves my home to flavor the Italian sodas and milkshakes of another family!
It feels odd to sit on our new toilet seat. I was used to the one with the broken hinges, such that using the facilities meant this kind of gentle balancing act at the same time. But Ralph replaced the seat yesterday. I’d been holding off because I had no idea how much they cost – forty bucks? A little less? Ralph picks up the nicest one in the place and it’s $7. So we could have been sitting on a good seat these last weeks.
One of my favorite lines from a film – Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck, speaking drily to a womanizing cad: “What you don’t know about women, is a lot.”
What I don’t know about Life, is a lot.
The kids and I are out on a walk. I have voice control over my dog which feels immense. He trots ahead of me by about three feet, swinging back to watch me now and then. Sometimes he falls right back at my side. He no longer gallops off to eat horrible things that make him very ill and affect our pocketbook.
It feels good to have made a difference.
So the kids and I are walking and the wind is blowing. The wind blows the braid-crimps right out of my son’s hair and turns it into spun gold and honey. The wind is strong, but it feels perfect. Soon the rains will come again and I’ll miss these perfect balmy summer nights. Already: the days, getting shorter.
Footfalls on the rocks. I am tired from poor sleep but I know I can walk alongside my children and be in the moment. I can walk without checking my phone – probably because I meditated this morning. The children are, themselves, far more delightful company than I – always. They still notice the right things to notice: they find a snakeskin, they comment on the length of the grass, the blackberries. They find a new fuzzy caterpiller in a vibrant citron hue I’ve never before seen.
It is amazing to me that they do not get bored or tired of the really wonderful things, the small things. The minutiae. Those things that really matter.Read More
Tonight at the treatment center, three of us serve on the panel. We are speaking about our past experiences as active alcoholics and addicts – and how we live clean and sober today. We each talk for fifteen to twenty-five minutes.
After we’re done, it’s time for questions. A man speaks up and asks us: “So even after all this time [clean and sober], you still think you need a [recovery] meeting every day?”
I have heard this more than once. As years of sobriety pile up, people are less likely to understand why Recovery would be so important. I remember this querulous old fella C.; at eightysomething he had about thirty years’ sobriety and he was as fiercely passionate as anyone I’ve heard on the subject. He said at the end of sharing in a meeting, “You know the longer you are sober, sometimes people ask. ‘You still gotta go to those meetings? You gotta hang out with those drunks?’ Well let me tell you. I have the perfect response to that. The perfect response. Want to hear it?”
He sets knotty fists on the table and juts his head out: “Maybe I like hanging out with those assholes more than you!”
I’m thinking of C. and smiling, while my two colleagues answer. One says, Yes, she knows she needs to go even after all these years sober. The other man, says he’s not willing to risk it. To risk forgetting and going back to drinking again.
It’s my turn. I lean forward and look right at the man who asked. He’s probably mid-twenties. Native. Lots of tattoos. He’s wearing some kind of restraint ankle bracelet on his leg. I don’t know him or where he’s come from – not yet, at least. I’ve met about five thousand addicts and alcoholics alone just through my treatment center work – not even counting recovery meetings in my community. But they are not throwaway lives to me, not ever.
To this young man I say, now, “I want to be here. I have a life today. I have a husband at home cooking a wonderful dinner. I have a tailoring project I’m working on that I am loving. I have two wonderful children waiting for me. We just got two new kittens [pause for effect because - HOW AWESOME!]. I have a life today. I have a marriage, and a home, and a family. But I want to be here. I want to be here with you.” I look right at him because I see him and it’s just me and him.
I want to be there/here. I have seen the scrap of life inside every human being, the god-consciousness that makes each person unique and holy and beautiful. Seeing this, being able to touch it, it’s a gift beyond measure and one money can’t buy – but one that, for reasons mysterious to me, many fake. I asked one of my mentors tonight, why, why do I get this thing when so many don’t. He says, “I think you’ve very blessed, my dear.”
Nights like tonight I feel very alive… very somber. Laughter and gravitas at the same time. Somehow.
It is, on balance, a wonderful, truly amazing, life.
I’ve posted a few of my kids’ homesewn hand-me-downs on FB. Some are free, some have a price tag. Jump in!Read More
It’s been several hours and two showers and two changes of clothes but I can still feel the horrible slippery feeling of my flip-flops as I tried to navigate a muddy bank section of the river. Right when I slipped – again, and my eye was scratched by a tall reed, right then I realized - I am having such a hard time.
I am so angry.
I am so angry because I am worried for my child and because there is nothing logical I can do (that I haven’t already done) so I am just floundering in these waters. It is like a hangover, and beating myself up, araid and angry. Feeling sick and ill at ease even when I’m with those I love. It’s a horrible experience and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
Walking a river is a great way to practice mindfulness – well, especially when you’ve an iPhone tucked in your bra that must, I repeat must, stay dry. So by the end of our trip I felt a little better. Then home; and after some work on the latest tailoring project, and after a hot shower and volunteer work – and talking with a friend – a little better, still.
Today really was beautiful. The children thanked me several times. “Thank you for financing this trip, Mama,” my little girl tells me. They didn’t once get tired of the many dozens of small frogs – and crawdads, and periwinkles, and wee little fish. They didn’t get tired of swimming and wading and climbing.
They are truly my greatest teachers.Read More
I fell in love, instantly, with this semi-sheer little knit in “tomato and ivory” colorway. In between working for clients, it’s important to sew something that kind of warms my heart. So I did.
It’s also quite gratifying to make someone something and watch them snuggle right into it, and wear it all day long.
Stripe matching as per usual: LIKE A BOSS
Twin needle at the hem:
Next up: pattern testing three patterns for a blog tour (wonderful!), making a silk blouse for a client, and mapping out a drover’s coat for another client. Far less a “housewife” these days than a preoccupied, semi-bitchy tailor!
I remember when my husband and I used to fight a lot. In between fights, that tension we tried to ignore. Or at least I did.
Today he makes me my favorite bagels… today I think of anniversary gift after anniversary gift for him.
I’m tired – my feet are tired. My back is tense. The bed calls – cool linens and warm bodies, laughter and inviting arms.