suit up and show up

Tomorrow marks a particular anniversary of my sobriety date. It’s been a wonderful journey, unlike any period in my life I can recall. It’s hard to explain. It has been like being born again, or being a child. I am less sure of myself but more secure and serene. Rigorous honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness.

I had the Willingness from day one, and for this I am so grateful.

And like someone new and picking through garbage, making missteps and being brave regarding things I’ve been frightened of – yes, there has been pain involved. My worst moment sober, however, has been hands-down better than life while I was employing other methods to cope. Depression, anxiety, fear, resentments, anger, over-excitement, a head spinning like a top, resentments (I put “resentments” twice because they are a Big Fucking Deal)… these things have been dashed to the rocks or at least incredibly reduced – in such a short time. All because I was ready to do a few simple things which I won’t detail here – but go into any of the rooms of Recovery, stick around, and you’ll hear all about them.

Life is beautiful. My children are the most incredible gift and to be frank, I don’t deserve them. So I just give Thanks. Daily they venture forth, these days with very little interference from me, and with a confidence and a joy of living and a love and care for other people. They remember names of strangers, they hug friends, they share their ice cream or their clothes. They are loving, caring people and it is a genuine pleasure to spend time with them.

At night my husband makes dinner and does the dishes and I have a few minutes to sew or knit or write. He takes better care of me now and (I truly believe) he takes better care of himself. Our family has changed. We are kinder to one another. We are more honest. There hasn’t been a yelling match or a nasty fight for quite some time.

But today one of the things that sticks with me is how precious and incredibly fragile life is. How all the days we can go about on the treadmill and be spiritually dead, or at least suffering so much our turmoil is loud in our ears and people say, “How are you?” and we say Fine, fine, and maybe we even think we’re fine, but we suffer so much. More scary still is the result of our confusion and isolation and quietude: others do not know know how much we suffer, how lost we are. In the last few days how many emails, how many people have expressed astonishment I had any kind of problem at all?

I am not going to diminish the mother of my children by negating all I did and accomplished, who I was, or how I incurred and attempted to patch up my bumps and scrapes (many of which I’ve written about here, publicly). The woman I was did the best she could. The woman I am today does the same. This woman, when the chips are down, I see her character and I like her just fine, about as much as God does I suppose.

May I always see her in this light.


By the way, I couldn’t wait until my Friday links to share this with you. Definitely NSFW, by the way. It made me laugh so damned hard. It also reminded me of my grandma, may she rest in peace.

bravery is being the only one who knows you’re afraid

Back in high school my closest girlfriends and I developed a system of “Badass Points”, an informally-tracked schema whereby each of us could earn group acknowledgement by doing something daring or asinine – and usually both (like skipping class and smoking with “the stoners” – this meant working-class or poor classmates who wore jean jackets adorned with Sharpie’d skulls and who listened to metal – or telling a teacher he had a sexy bum. Unconscionable but rather tame on that last one, I know, but in my defense we were seventeen and imprisoned in our family lives and school). I don’t remember our game running very long but it was much-beloved to me all the same. I liked the idea of being a Badass when most my life I’d invested in Good Girl, when indeed I was very afraid of many things. To venture out – only a bit – and be myself instead of the Convenience I was relied upon to be – felt grand.

In that vein, I don’t think I’d earn many points these days. I’ve become someone quite risk-averse because I’ve found my position oppressively policed by forces both tangible and many perhaps insubstantial to others’ eyes; I’ve found my Fearless ameliorated by events personally devastating that linger on. These days my “badass” mostly runs to deeply-committed-to concepts of fairness that are so inextricably wound up in spiritual practice and belief they are less individual instances of Awesome and more rewarding ways of life that I nevertheless continue to grapple with – for instance, trusting my kids in their wholeness and personhood

OR –

my “badass” consists of speaking up against oppressive social mores that are trite and common, yet devastating and ubiquitous: more wearying than acutely scary. Examples from just lately: this weekend in a group when a person wondered aloud how a missing girl’s family could have let the child out of their sight in the first place – and after a pause in the conversation I indicated my non-support for such victim-blaming and insensitive speech; another example, speaking out when my daughter’s hairstylist called skinny gym neophytes “gross”.

I know at least a handful of readers might think I’m badass enough given the above examples – and a handful of other readers will eyeroll at just how limited and cowardly I really am. Other people’s verdicts don’t matter so much – because what matters is I haven’t felt a Badass in some time and what’s more I feel it’s something I need.

Being a Badass isn’t about, for me, being a jerk to other people, or proving a point to someone else – it’s about doing something I want to do because I want to do it, and I’m a grown lady who’s allowed to make mistakes – right? – without looking around to make sure there won’t be a big scary reprisal, or wondering what my reputation (such as it is, because Who? Gives A Shit) will suffer. Why do I still fear things when I’ve survived through so much so far?

If I was Badass I’d stop running to spend my every last dime on my kids’ immediate needs and I’d “selfishly” buy myself some things I want – I’d let the kiddos have holey socks and stained clothes and I’d fix myself up with some slutty and awesome bra and panty sets and maybe a top that wasn’t an old band t-shirt. But on the flip side if I was a Badass I’d stop giving a damn for the folk who talk like it’s Empowering to collect Nice Things; I’d start saying “Fuck Off” (mentally) now and forever to those who speak prescriptively about those “must haves” that carry price points that don’t reflect my foursome’s economic reality and I’d say “No Thanks, but Good Luck With That” to those with worldviews that don’t concern themselves with the earth, with fellow man here and abroad, and with conspicuous consumption and the cultural heritage of being an American who just tramples and eats everything they see.

If I was a Badass I’d stop feeling crap about my bad habits. Fuck it. Seriously, I have them. They’ll lift someday, or they won’t.

If I was Badass I’d call up that friend who’s not been a friend and tell her, “You know what? You aren’t much of a friend, and it really hurts, and I know you’re busy, but you should know I have feelings.”

If I was a Badass I’d tell my friends, to their faces, I love you.

If I was a Badass I’d let the house be messy (OK, messier) and know that I would get around to fixing it at some point so let’s move on. Instead of what I do now, which is make sure to take care of that shit first, THEN decide what I want to do with the rest of my supposedly-“free” time.

If I was Badass I’d stop worrying about my husband’s health and trust him to manage his own self. God knows I do pretty right by him.

If I was Badass I’d seek more joy and maybe be a more loving and spontaneous and relaxed lady for this man. I’d quit working myself so hard.

If I was a Badass I’d sing loud in front of other people, because I love to sing, and the only people who ever, EVAR hear it are my kids.

If I was a Badass I’d stop feeling this weird shame we’re working class and have working class lives. I’d stop feeling it was my “fault” somehow, especially considering when I reflect on other people’s lives I truly grant them the same humanity and nobility inherent regardless of status and privilege or any lack thereof (or at least I really, really think I do).

If I was Badass, I’d stop feeling people have a right to give a damn or have a say about what food I feed my children, like I’m required to make sure they grow into some awesome consumers with prim and holistic eating habits I can put down to my awesome parenting. Truth is some days I love to cook more than anything, other days (like today!) I save my mental health and take a walk to the diner and get a veggie burger with my son, and it’s pretty funny how hot and cold I am on the whole good-housewife bit. I come nowhere near the mark on being good at this, the whole well-rounded awesome Mama routine, so it’s laughable I still put this pressure on myself. And yeah, I know people shouldn’t have that right to weigh in, but weigh in they do, and dammit, I let it get to me.

That’s part of my problem, maybe most of it. Deep down I keep believing people have the right to weigh in. On my worthDeep down I still really fear not being a Nice Girl. So many things I want to say but don’t. Or sometimes I do say them then later feel a very humorless shame because my words weren’t “Nice”, or they might have been uncouth or low class or “inappropriate” according to the voice (who?) of someone who, well the one thing I can tell you, is this person is not very fun anyway. The twisted thing is, I am a good (enough) person, and I’m a friend to many and do okay by those I take responsibility for. What am I really afraid of? And another really twisted thing is I know lots of “not-nice” folk and they are some of my favorite people and they’re not scary or horrid!

I’ve made it on my own steam, and that’s to my credit as well as the family and friends who support me so well and the privilege I was born with. But inside… inside I’m often cowering, afraid to lose things I probably don’t really need in the first place, cowering even knowing I won’t lose Me no matter what I do.

But you know. One last thing? I think just writing it all out, and letting it go publicly just what a coward I am?- like, PRETTY much, all the things I’m afraid of? All of a sudden, just now, feels pretty Badass. Hit “publish” – too late now.

It’s almost 2 AM and I hear my daughter giggling at something she’s watching (with headphones) on the laptop. You know what’s really awesome? That. I have her, today, and a sense of unabiding joy when I’m with her.

So I’m going to join her.


“Every man has his own courage, and is betrayed because he seeks in himself the courage of other persons.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“… fuck.”

The last thirty-six hours have been full of lots of little bits of delight I’ve been rather too tired to string together into my normal winsome anecdotes. Last night, travelling up to Olympia with Liights while Flo and I had a hen-cackle-fest in the van you probably cannot imagine, as bonus we elucidated the men (my husband and new drummer Steve, a boy man I’ve known since childhood old-school HQX) on various topics of film, cuisine, and vaginal upkeep; fun times. Flo told me she told her boyfriend how much she loved me because I was “just like [her], but white, with good manners.” This made me laugh pretty hard although I am very sad to be described as “good manners” (I’ve previously written on the subject) which is at odds with my occasional guilt over my crassness, my unmannered-ness, my tendency to love the word “fuck” so much I can’t stop wanting to say it regularly, and I rather do, especially with ladies like Flo, who are in general a delightful influence.

This was Steve’s (drummer) first show and he did really well. It was fabulous to hear some drums again (esp. loud ones). At one point he removed his shirt (yay!) only to put a different one on (sadkins). Ralph botched the videorecording so, oops. We also got to watch our friend (differently-spelled but also named) Steev in his one-man performance for the first time – incredibly fun. The “crowd” was something like two wives (hi!), the other bands, a few completely random drunk people who at least did not get violent. Let me just say that venue (second time playing there) sucks. It isn’t the worst show I’d been to (audience/venue-wise) but then again, I mean have you ever followed a band around, do I even need to explain how it works.

Today our kids raised themselves as per their usual lately and I somewhat sadly drifted around doing a minimum of cleaning and cooking. In the afternoon Ralph and I ran into friends visiting from their home in Hawaii. A total coincidence as they’d stopped to see us but we hadn’t been home; we saw them moments later while grocery shopping (I am glad I disrupted our stated flow of errands). Ralph and I had a late lunch out together (at the new Italian place which is still rather nice and classy, gotta eat there before the Grays Harbor infects it into something undesirable) then came home to the kids: Phoenix has a new girlfriend S. and we had this girl with us the last 24+ hours; staying the night Friday, drawing pictures, going to soccer this AM (Phoenix’s team won), teaching one another Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift, playing at the not-really Lion’s Park (and getting incredibly muddy – I approve), then roller skating deep into tonight: in general running the town. What a wonderful thing for Phoenix. I remember friendships like that as a girl.

While the girls skated Ralph and Nels and I went to the 7th Street Theatre’s showing of Mamma Mia! In a surprise coup of awesomeness there were actually hundreds of people there and the atmosphere was lively. Nels got very affectionate toward the end of the film, feeling deeply moved by the subject matter and songs. He rested against Ralph and I under the starlit high ceiling until we came back home to a warm house, hot baths, waiting beds.

“Live in the sunshine, swim the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

ThistlesOur day today included much bike riding and a marathon swim date at the HQX YMCA. To my surprise the same lifeguards have been totally transformed from their demeanors during the school year. Rather than a handful of rigorous, goofy, and flighty pseudo-rules a more relaxed atmosphere of sensible regulations prevailed. It was wonderful. At first I was confused; then I realized that with summer and more children in the pool (I counted two dozen) there was not the petty energy to piss-about with “don’t touch the ladder” or “don’t lean on that”. Groups of children played freely, teenage boys doing improbably lopsy flips from the diving board and helping one another out (young men who show tenderness and comradery make my eyes sting with tears*), small tots being cared for by older kids, children exercising the fastest-possible technical “walk” on the pool deck (“WALK!”) – their legs stiff and elbows flying, and Nels and Phoenix delighting in having more child-company.

For a brief moment I considered a world where children were not institutionalized most of the year; where more children were more places I went during the day. It was a lovely vision.

I’ve written a bit about watching my son’s inspiring (to me) journey in swimming self-teaching. Today he is determined to learn to dive in the deep end. He first crouches low and hops into the water; then he bends his knees less before the jump, and so on. Over and over he tries different approaches until finally he jumps from a standing position. I’m thinking how much he will love our time at Mason Lake later this month. I tread water close by as Phoenix dives over and over and the two swim around one another like twin seals, all laughter and slippery camaraderie.

My son is such that it is entirely obvious how any amount of pressure or “teaching” agenda usually backfires and impedes his process. Yet helping when he asks and being there to facilitate safety (because truly he is enough of a swim risk-taker I’m glad he’s learning with me close by, here in the 8′ end) I have the honor of watching a flower bloom. His body is a delight, wiggling happily, not one second is he unsmiling. After watching his exertions for a time I am glad he will be sitting on the back of my bike rather than riding his own; he’s still little enough the round-trip and swim efforts would likely tax his little Self more than he’d be comfortable.

My daughter is an amazing mentor to her brother. I notice she offers advice to Nels on his backstroke: “Keep your back straight – put your tummy up,” she tells him firmly. He gladly complies and laughs in delight at the immediate improvement in his stroke. He then flips over and goes under water, emerging with his long hair across his eyes, just his perfect little nose and his big smile visible. Phoenix says, from a distance of a foot, “Do you need help?” Not at all bossy, entirely considerate. He energetically wiggles in his idiosyncratic dog-paddle to the edge under her friendly eye; she watches to make sure he is fine alone.

Typically after physical exertions the kids come home and want more sedate fare.  Nels plays with an electronics kit with the neighbor boy. Phoenix reads. Thanks to our Tweep Justin our daughter has a rather impressive small library of various sci-fi and fantasy novels she’s reading (now as I type she has her nose in The War of the Lance**). Later, the kids are excitedly talking about the creatures they want to pretend to be for the evening: a female centaur (Phoenix), a river-nymph (Nels).

Then Ralph asks them, “Should mama be a harpy or a sea serpent?”


Staircase wit: I should have shot back with, “Should daddy be a tiny-dicked orc, or a tiny-dicked ent?”

But I don’t always have a quick reply.

Nels Walks To The Store(Nels walks to the corner store.)


** NERD!

a class 5 vegan, i don’t eat anything that casts a shadow

It’s kind of amazing I’ve been able to speak a kind word to anyone the last few days as I have embarked (at a physician’s suggestion and with her oversight, yadda yadda) on a rather annoying allergy elimination diet. Or as I like to call it, the “I Can’t Have Anything Nice With You Kids” diet. Basically, think of something you like to eat. Picturing it in you mind? Delicious, no? Guess what, I can’t eat it. I can’t consume any wheat, corn or corn products, oats, gluten (seriously? I can eat amaranth and quinoa and rice. Yippie.), I can’t have sugar or citrus, or alcohol or caffeine. Hey, did you hear that last part? About no booze and coffee? Oh and guess what? Sugar (or HFCS), corn, and wheat is in – everything. Every goddamned thing. I tried to buy some beef franks and they had corn in them. I tried to buy some “natural” and low-ingredient salad dressing – sugar. I found another bottle – this time, lemon juice, also a no-no.

You know what this food plan really is about? It’s about Eliminating Joy. “These instructions will allow you to substitute highly nutritious meals consisting of foods you rarely eat. You may not like it, but you will not be deprived of any important nutrients.” Ha! Yes! Fuck yes! I am not really liking it!

I am particularly a bad candidate for this kind of thing as A. I don’t have a history of “dieting” (i.e. a pursuit of weight loss through calorie-counting or food eschewal), B. Deprivation takes the energy out of me, and C. I am responsible for cooking for four people and seriously? As if I want some extra caveats in the kitchen. Stirring a few tablespoons of butter into the rest of the family’s spaghetti tonight and the starchy-buttery smell just felt Right. I am in the Wrong for not eating that stuff up (I didn’t – I’m no cheater).*

Well, twatever, the thing has started. Monday I was just about paralyzed with abrupt caffeine withdrawl (upon consulting with my doctor on Day 2 I discovered I was not actually required to forgo the stuff; yet I have gotten over the hump on no-caffeine so I’m keeping it that way). Tuesday I was a bit low energy – hello, no bread, no sugar, no coffee? Of course. Today, well, I’ve felt pretty much myself. And I won’t lie: the symptoms I initially sought treatment for (nighttime anxiety and onset insomnia, stomach cramps, diarrhea, skin breakouts) are improving. Sleep has been transformed. No stomach pains. No hangover fuzziness. No drunken, raunchy sext messages in the middle of the night. Oh wait, I didn’t do those before.

Mostly though, I just feel boring. I cook for the family but making myself separate meals feels odd and uncomfortable. I’m earnestly looking forward to a “normal”, whatever that is. I have no idea what that normal will look like, but I pray it doesn’t involve having to eat like this for any long duration. Like right now? I’m actually looking forward to my dessert of a banana and soy milk. A goddamned banana! Who the fuck likes those? Nobody. This is what I’ve been reduced to, people.


* By the way I am a pretty good cook and the fact I can’t cook things for myself makes my kitchen triumphs seem all the more precious. Tonight I made turkey meatballs infused with silken tofu – just a bit to give them body – and garlic, and fresh basil and bay leaves in a red sauce. I cook up the sauce from scratch on the oven about an hour, then saute up the meatballs put the whole business in my cast-iron casserole in the oven all day at 200 F. Butter beans and pasta for the rest of the family, a beet salad for myself. By the way, I made excellent meatballs and in fact no one can make turkey meatballs as moist and flavorful as I can.

(Thanks for the clip, Paige!)

in which i introduce my first EXTENSIVE DRAMATIC CAPS LOCK USAGE

I was thinking a lot about my kids today.  I let them do most of the chores needed to get ready for our weekend.  This meant instead of me feeling stressed out and hustling my sweet ass on tons of work while the kids aimlessly tore through the house playing, we all pitched in – and I even got to play a bit myself afterward (sewinz).  Together the kids and I cleaned the bathroom, the front porch, the guest rooms, and the kitchen; Sophie, as per usual, did laundry, and Nels vacuumed the living room (for about an hour – he likes to do the whole floor with the long, skinny attachment).  Later in the day we ran to the grocery store real quick-like in between errands and getting Sophie to swim team practice.  My kids darted through the grocery store and I observed and was once again impressed with their boundless energy. It seems ideal for them to have some real work during the day and then get to do whatever else they want to do – within reason – and most of all, be allowed to run, run, run.

And speaking of that: in the parking lot as I put the groceries in the backseat my five year old somehow – like the T-1000 – vaulted up on the back trunk of my car and ran up the canopy, down the windshield, and back to the trunk. He might have done it about eight times as I opened the driver’s-side back door and closed it again, he was moving so fast. Keep in mind, I don’t mind this “abuse” of our car at all.  Probably persons shouldn’t run on windshields, I think (I will have to look into that), but otherwise I was rather impressed with his athleticism and coordination.  My good mood was cut short, abruptly, as I looked up and saw not one, but at least two parties including three people giving my son THE GLARE.  Big, sour-faced, head-shaking stink-eye.  And here I’d been expecting smiles!  Silly me.



It’s kind of crazy just how extensive the cultural expectations are that kids are not allowed to do this, that, this and that – usually things they know full well they can handle and there is no good reason not to allow them to do so.  Often things adults no longer have the desire or balls to try themselves (and this is kind of sad in and of itself).  It’s a separate kind of crazy that most people I know pretty steadily participate in this kind of suppression without much of a thought.  And it’s my unique brand of Kelly-fail that for many years I assumed there was a reason my kid was not allowed to pick up something in the shop, or run along the sidewalk, or speak up in a mixed group, or whatever thing [everyone else is allowed to do yet] they roundly get public disfavor for doing – I more often than not defaulted there was a reason my child wasn’t allowed to walk barefoot in town or pick up a lightbulb in the hardware store or as in this case climb on top of their own family car.

And now I’m seeing that the sort of objections that are cited as “safety” objections (like some apologists in response to this little story) have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with, if I may take a guess, fear and resentment. Yes, fear when beholding the nature of a child – a nature open, and daring, and able to accurately and often loudly voice feelings, and almost always completely aware of their own limitations and completely aware of the risks they run.  How is it a creature is allowed to have such boundless energy and at any moment see material objects differently than the way everyone else (besides those brilliantly gifted) sees them?  Because, see, this is where the resentment comes in – deep-seated resentment. Resentment because that’s just Not The Way Things Are Done and if we were all allowed to jump on top of our own car, well…  some kind of Bad Thing would happen.

It makes me sad, really.  It makes me sad I am 32 years old and just now seeing through the eyes of a child – and there is much we adults could learn from this view.  It’s my thought that all adults – not just parents – would do well to examine the squelching they received as children, to mourn this unnecessary and sad series of events, leave it behind forever, and to spend more time with children – advocating for the children themselves and re-learning their own authentic natures.  I have no doubt we could all reclaim some of the joy, energy, and wonder that our young ones so effortlessly exhibit (until we vigorously and with small or large abuses train it out of them as much as possible). I know that for me I have benefited in many ways by being brave enough to believe in my kids.

Later, on our way to our film, Sophie rides ahead on her bike and Nels runs, as swiftly as he can, along the sidewalk.  They stop at road-crossings and wait for my friend Cynthia and I to catch up.  Nels’ breakneck speed on the sidewalks unnerves me.  But when examined I find my feelings are not because I fear an injury to him – he runs full-tilt as much as possible, despite banged-up knees and spilled ice cream and all the accidents running has afforded him in his young life.  No: I’m afraid, I’m tense, because I know I myself could not today, at 32, run that fast in the gloaming; I watch his fierce, brave, strong little body and I feel it as my own – yet with my adult fears and limitations. I am astounded by him, and surprised at myself. Maybe some day I’ll join him in the run.

calgon, motherf*cker, take me away!

Those who do not keep house for any number of years, for dependents and spouses or partners, you cannot know the pain I will write of here.  You just can’t.  Those that have done what I do – especially those who are still doing it now – this is for you. And maybe after you read, can I get an “Amen”?

Today I wake up and after going pee and brushing teeth I head into the kitchen for the carafe of hot coffee my husband usually makes then leaves the remainder of (bless him!). My plan is to pour a cup (black) then sit down to my Google Reader (someone help me by coming up with a euphemism for how addicted-like-crack I am to this service) which serves as my morning wake-up. Ah, yes – the few minutes I have during the day where I get a little quiet – even the cats are sleeping in flaccid, soft piles between the legs of my slumbering children.  I typically get about a half hour before one of my kids – the eldest, usually – opens sleepy eyes and immediately says, “Mama, cuddle me.”

But no – today it is not to be.  The kitchen not only lacks hot coffee, but there are no coffee grounds whatsoever (my mother had taken the last and not rebought) and even more defeating the dirty dishes are haphazardly stacked in a big assy pile – including those from my mom and her boyfriend the night before.  Which of course I have to do first-thing if I’m wanting to cook my kids breakfast.

No. Freakin’. Coffee. So I start on the dishes.  There are so many, so very many, and some of them are that truly unpleasant kind of dish (oil-soaked casserole pans, some kind of ketchup-y, deep-fried oyster leavings with lemon rinds strewn about) and I just kind of lower my shoulders and do dish after dish, and dry them with a clean towel, and drain and run water again, and fill up the sink strainer. Again.  Methodically I finish them all.

The kids get up and about during all this and after throwing them some food, and instructing them to get dressed, I examine them and find their teeth were not brushed last night and in fact don’t look like they’ve been brushed well for days.  I get the choice: be the sole family member who gives a damn that they might have a tooth in their head by old age, or just say, “Fuck it!” and let them run off as-is.  I choose the former, of course – because the truth is, when it comes to self-care, kids need lots and lots and lots of repetition to bring the habit into their own.  And I can accept that. But what sucks is that about half the time I brush their teeth or lay their heads on my lap to floss they complain or whinge about it.  I mean that part somehow gets to me.

I’m somewhere amidst yelling at my daughter to get dressed (again!) and putting away the floss when Nels gets ahold of the trail mix, opens it (messily) and proceeds to eat every chocolate piece and strew so very many of the unwanted nuts, raisins etc. all over the table and floor.  When I tell him I expect him to clean this up when he’s done he hedges, and gets angry, and then yells, “I’m sleepy, and I want to rest – it’s my job to rest and it’s YOUR JOB to clean up!

There are hurts so deep they don’t even hurt any more.  And for this numbness I’m grateful.  I don’t especially feel better or well-supported when my mother comes in on the end of this trail mix debacle, shushing Nels, and beginning to help him clean up.  Because she has a tiny and likely unknown contribution to my sorrows, the woman who brings down messy dishes – her boyfriend has never done Dish One, and I feel scorn for a woman who waits on all the men in her life, and I need to examine this, because for one thing who am I kidding? because look at me this morning – and leaves them, and takes coffee, and returns at noon with coffee (NOON! for fuck’s sake), and then spills the grounds all over the counter I. Just. Washed. Oh and I also cleaned up the rotting tomatoes left there too by Who Knows Who. And the thing is, it’s OK to spill coffee grounds, right?  Of course I can’t require anyone clean the counter until they’re good and ready, or OOOPS I didn’t get to the dishes [again]! Sorry! But of course this is the place where I have to feed us all and have to feel a small sense of peace living in and working out of.

Raising children is an amazing, endless task. Sometimes the things that make it great also makes it hard: in this case, loving, consistent work over the course of many years.  I know if I take care of myself, and take care of them the way I’m supposed to, things will work out as best they can.  Sophie later puts her arms around me and tells me not to give up on her dental hygiene, but to continue taking care of her for as long as she can’t manage it properly.  I thought this was very sweet and well-spoken on her part. And I really am up to the task; I just wish, more than anything, I had a space of my own now and then to retreat to, all by myself, when I need a break.

My daughter drives off with my mother in a couple hours.  She’ll be gone for one or two nights.  Let me tell you something: I walk the talk, I let my kids out into the world, and I give them a heck of a lot of freedoms because I know this is right (today Sophie bought our groceries again, solo).  But I hurt, every time she goes, for even one night. Every time.  I don’t even think she knows it.