My Vagina Made Me Do It

Apparently there was a secret meeting to vote on all the duties I should or would be responsible for in life.   From what I can tell this meeting discussed at length the roles I would be responsible for filling, as a mother, a wife, an employee.    Unfortunately, my invitation to this meeting must have gotten lost among Sunday mailers and an endless stream of bills.  My Vagina on the other hand… well it seems my Vagina was not only invited but was most certainly in attendance.  My Vagina must have really thought highly of me during this assembly because where I am fully aware that I am mediocre at planning, excellent at procrastinating, often sluggish and typically take a few tries to get motivated…She obviously thought I was quite the go-getter.  She must’ve seen far more potential in me, far more energy, drive and determination than I did.  I mean otherwise why did she sneak off to this clandestine meeting and raise her tiny vagina hand ultimately and eternally volunteering me for these commitments that I, of my own accord, would have opted out of or at least selected a much shorter term?

Thanks Va-JayJay for the vote of confidence but next time consult me first as these are things that I am now bound to and often quite irritated by.  Things like fluffing and folding everyone on Planet Hebard’s laundry.  Things like continuously scrubbing and straightening up the house, planning months and months of menus and endless trips to the grocery store.  Things like cleaning up piles of cat puke and dog poo.  Things like decorating for every holiday on the calendar and volunteering to make cookies or posters or whatever else is mass emailed to the 32 other busy body Vaginas on the class roster.

She didn’t just offer me up at home either.  No, she seems to have offered my services at work too.  Things like answering the phone even though there are 4 other Penises with capable hands but seemingly broken elbows in our office.  Things like filing, making coffee, and doing dishes.  You know, all the (stereo)typical things Vaginas are apt to volunteer for.

I notice that its not just my Vagina that thinks I am superwoman.  My friends private parts seem to think they are something special too.  I see so many women juggling jobs, commutes, errands, homework, and carpools and often witness the same glazed over, how-the-heck-did-I-get-here and when-did-I-agree-to-this looks on their faces.  Sure we cover it up with sweet smiles and obligatory answers of “Sure!!  Of course I can”….bake 400 gluten free vegan cupcakes tonight after dinner and drop them off before school, before work, before I melt down into a blubbering mess.

It’s not their fault I guess, our Vaginas that is.  Why wouldn’t they think us invincible?  They’ve thrown hormones and puberty at us and we Clearasil-ed our pretty little faces and kept going.  They’ve thrown periods and PMS at us, often embarrassingly and at the most inopportune times, and we Tampax-ed up, rinsed our undies and kept going.  They’ve thrown pregnancy and childbirth at us and we gritted our teeth, we breathed, we pushed and though it felt at the time like maybe, finally our little trouble making C You Next Tuesdays were gonna be ripped right out of us instead we received uterine massages by Labor & Delivery nurses to return them, our unelected arbitrators  to their natural state meanwhile we were never ever the same again and still WE KEPT GOING.  So, yeah I can see where my Vagina might think I can handle it all.

Truthfully, I know I can handle it all.  I may not always want to, perhaps not always with a smiling face but handle it I will.  If only it were that simple.  You see, it’s not just me I’m worried about.   I have a daughter, a lovely, intelligent, dramatic, smart and smart-ass preteen daughter.  My daughter also has a vagina.  Shocker, I know!  Yet I realized that my vagina was influenced by my mothers, just as moon cycles and too many women in the office can still affect mine today.  I realized that my mothers vagina volunteered her just as often and to just as many unwanted and untoward tasks as mine.  The difference is, I refuse to let my daughters vagina speak for her.  She will not be tied to stoves or school meetings unless she actively wants it.  She wont be forced to answer a phone or file anything unless it is her own phone or files she is bowing to.  I started this early.  I repeat it often.  I have and will continue to make sure that both she and her tiny Whoo-Ha know that she is not bound to any predetermined roles or responsibilities.  She can choose.  She can wait to see which tasks she is drawn towards and which she’d like to forego.

Thank you very much fledgling genitalia but keep those lips sealed.   I will not let her vagina speak for her, she will speak for herself and I think both of our Vaginas will be silently cheering for her.

Dear Daughter, Lessons to Learn Early

Changes are brewing.  Pimples are popping up.  Emotions are rising and falling with the moon and the tides.  My darling daughter turns 12 in a few months.  She just entered Junior High and unbeknownst to her, she is standing on the precipice of the rest of her life.  Her hormones, her likes, her loves all changing as often as her wildly patterned socks. It occurred to me that this is the age where everything is about to flip upside down.   The age where all the damage done in early childhood takes a back seat to the twisted way we use those traumas and the survival skills we learned to do even more damage to ourselves.

Her brilliantly shiny life is a stark contrast to mine.  By the time I was her age I had already started drinking, already started being far more than just interested in boys.  I had already started lying to my teachers.  I had already started skipping school, shop lifting, and hating myself.  I was just starting to make plans for the first of many moves out of and then back in to the revolving doors of my parents house.  I had started down the dark and twisted road that lead me to rock bottom.  Not long after my twelfth birthday I learned how to drive, how to mix drinks, how to flirt, and how to manipulate my sexuality.  I learned to fear men and distrust women.  I discovered that there was no God and that no where was safe.  Already ingrained in me was the knowledge that I was always and would forever be alone, even in a crowded room.  As I look back on my own history and the mess that came of it, I wish that some of those lessons had waited, perhaps forever, and that I had learned a few other things sooner.

In honor of her upcoming 12th birthday, here are 12 things I wish I had learned sooner.

#1 The only way to have a FRIEND is to be one.

I never understood this saying as a kid.  Everyone you knew was your friend and thus you were a friend, right?  Growing up in a family of girls I always had friends.  Growing up in a dysfunctional family of girls I never was taught how to be a friend.  I was taught to watch your back and to trust no one.  I was taught how to lie convincingly.  I was shown how to pick up boys, how to use them and abuse them, much like we were used and abused.   As I moved through my life I treated my friends the way I was treated by and the way I treated my sisters.  I watched in confused and heart-broken horror as most of my friends disappeared.   Friends don’t stick around when you abuse them, they aren’t forced to by blood or family residence.

Decades passed and people wandered in and then ran screaming out of my life.  It wasn’t until my late twenty’s that I learned how to be a friend.  Wanna guess how?  In addition to countless tearful years of working on my self through meetings, therapy and soul-searching, an amazing and wonderful human being wandered into my cubicle and took the time to be my friend.  He turned out to be a real, honest to goodness friend.  He taught me selfless love and sacrifice.  He made me want to be there for others the way he is there for every one in his life.  Open, trustworthy, honest and real; he made me want to be a better person.  To this day he holds me up when I need it and holds me accountable even when I don’t want to hear it.  He has put me on a pedestal and knocked me right off when I got too big for my britches.  I love him for this and so much more.   As the theme song to the Golden Girls says “thank you for being a friend”.  I owe him more than I can ever repay.  Be that kind of pal, darling, and you will never be without friends.

#2 Boys ARE only after one thing, *mostly

Not knowing how to be a friend to girls lead to lots of boyfriends.  The ability to lie, manipulate, coerce and control lead to lots of EX-boyfriends.    I was damaged goods and damaged goods are quite attractive to boys.  Crazy’s great in bars and beds but she rarely gets taken home to meet your parents.  I was looking for love but more often found sex.  I was hoping for connection but most often found short-lived lust.  When I finally took the time to survey the wreckage of my past I was shocked to learn that the person I lied to, manipulated, coerced and controlled most was ME.   The countless boys I thought I had used by being too smart to get attached to, too wild to care for, too much for them to handle had inflicted invisible scars across my whole life.   When the hangovers subsided and the detox lifted my broken being out of despair I saw that I was the one I hurt the most.

Still, knowing those truths could never have prepared me for the truth about boys.  The last two decades of raising one and the sometimes rocky roller coaster of a relationship with his dad have opened my eyes.  Boys are wired from the primordial ooze to check us out.  They look for sex EVERY WHERE.  This is not a condemnation nor is it a fault.  They are built this way.  Their hormones tug and tear at them to check out every possible instance of V neck cleavage, smooth summer legs, and sandal clad feet.   They learn to disguise it.  They try to hide it.  Some even convince themselves that they have risen above it.  But if you crossed your legs the wrong way in front of the Pope and I bet he would still take a look and THEN say his prayers for forgiveness.

This is not to say they are evil, or unable to have meaningful, lasting, love filled relationships.  This is merely a warning to my daughter that choosing boys over yourself, your friends, your talents, your aspirations and dreams is never going to bring you the kind of love you may be searching for.  That can only be found within you, only found by you and will only be valued when you sees it through your own eyes and not through the eyes of some boy.

#3 SPEAK your mind

“Do as I say, not as I do”, “don’t talk back”, “children should be seen and not heard”, “this is NOT a democracy” – this is how I grew up.  This is why I can’t shut up now.  This is among the many reasons I tortured my self for many years.  I remember feeling stupid because they wouldn’t voice the truth I instinctively knew.  I remember feeling frustrated that I was silenced for nothing more than my age.  I remember shaking in rage, my skin crawling and itching as if covered by biting fire ants over the impotence I felt.  I vowed to remember all of this.  I vowed to never do this to my children.

Unfortunately I can not claim that I have never done this to them.  Conditioning dies hard.  Yet, I have taught them to speak up.  To stand up for what they think, to argue – even with me – if they disagree.  I have taught my sweet girl, that being a girl doesn’t mean being flawed, being a girl doesn’t mean sit pretty, it doesn’t mean being less than or more than any one else.  Sugar and spice and all that is nice, but being a girl who stands on her own is nothing short of awesome.

#4 TWEEZERS, friend and foe.

In all seriousness, Tweezers are your best frenemy.  Along with razors, concealer, lipstick, lotions, compacts and bras.  These are things you hate yet seemingly can’t live without.  These are things you love but would also love to burn.  These are societies notions of beauty and also some of the best times you’ll have in the bathroom.  They make you more beautiful and yet some how also less.  They highlight your best features and yet can never cover your flaws.   I learned too late to love my face without makeup and too early how to hide behind it.  I wore a mask that started in 6th grade and ended with dark kohl rimmed eyes drowning in tears because I couldn’t bear my own reflection.  Love yourself without these things, my dear and you’ll be happier when you wear them.

#5 EVERYTHING will be ok.

There is a saying that goes: Everything will be ok in the end, if it’s not ok it’s not the end.  Another one that says: There is no sweet without the sour.  Yet another: This too shall pass.  These are a few of my favorite words of wisdom.  These are things I wish I had understood in my teens when depression first hit and kept me in bed for a month, kept me from Homecoming Court, kept me from graduating High school with my class.  These are things I would only learn after my twenties when the darkness of my past manifested in my choices and took me down to the cold black water in the deep end of life.

Patience is like walking on Lego’s.  If there’s a whole bunch of it you hardly seem to notice the pain, if it’s thin every step is a jagged pointed poke to the soft underside of your sole.  Trust that whatever darkness you are facing is for your own better self.   There are lessons in the dark times that sear their brand on to your heart.  They will shape and mold you like a shell tossed around in the ocean, waves and sand tumultuously churning, nicks and cuts into your idea of who you are and when you finally land on the beach of acceptance deep inside is a beautiful pearl that could only have arisen from that chaos and pain.  Be grateful for the things that shape you and know that they will not last.

#6 Be SELFISH, within reason.

I hereby give you permission to be selfish *within reason.  Selfish in the ways that your co-dependent mother is not.  Selfish in ways that my co-dependent mother was taught were wrong for a lady by her co-dependent mother.  Selfish in ways that allow you to become all that you are meant to be without fear of what society thinks or what your husband wants.  This is not to say that you can be a self-serving, unmannered jerk.  (No body has that right, though some may act like they do.) This permission slip is for you to concentrate on YOU.  For you to place yourself on the top of your list of who is important for your own emotional, mental and physical self.

Being a girl in this world is not an easy job.  From birth we are bombarded with ideas of what is acceptable, what is expected, what we can achieve – in ways that boys are not.  Boys in our society are given the right to be selfish and they never look back.  They can concentrate on their dreams and never be called conceited.  They can excel at work or school or sports and not be deemed pompous.  They can choose not to get married or to forego having kids and not be faced with the label of egotistic.  These are the permissions I am granting you today.  The right to be and do and live as you like, make choices based on the deepest desires of your heart and never look back, never feel bad, never fear that you will be labeled as anything but the smart, funny, dedicated athlete and talented scholar that you are.

#7 You are NEVER alone.

I grew up in a house full of people.  I was “popular” in school.  I had people around me nearly all the time.  However, in the deepest pit of my stomach, in my heart of hearts, I always felt alone.  Always felt that I was an interloper and other than.  I learned to fake my connections, learned to project vanity and confidence.  I used cosmetics, clothes and contempt to hide my solitude from the world.  It was a daily costume and I fooled everyone, including myself, for a while.

That soul shattering loneliness was my constant companion until I found an affinity for Divinity.   Taking the steps to learn how to personally connect to the Universe and how the Universe was eternally and intrinsically connected to me changed me on a cellular level.  The shift in my being, personality, relationships so profound I was nearly unrecognizable to myself.  Then one day I was standing outside of a meeting.  People all around me, smoking and talking, laughing and commiserating and I stood alone amidst them, just letting the music of their fellowship envelop me.  Someone noticed me, he said, “Hey why are you all alone?”  and the most astonishing words flew out of my mouth.  I replied, “I am not alone.  I’ll never be alone again.”

We are all connected, every being on this planet is made of the same stuff.  Blood, bones and star dust.  We are all magic and no one is ever truly alone.  No matter what we tell our deepest darkest selves.

#8 LOVE your BODY

You are perfect.  Your size and shape are perfect.  Rejoice in that perfection.  Honor that perfection.  Love your SELF, not just the soul that resides inside but the vessel that carries it.   Disregard magazines, television, YouTube, Instagram and any other voice that tells you that you are less than perfect.  Especially and most vehemently if that voice comes from inside your own head.

Take time to show love to your body.  Love your body through exercise, yoga, meditation.  Love your body through bubble baths and long hot showers.  Love your body through sports and softball.  Love your body as it changes from its pudgy toddler days into its childhood stick straight frame into tiny budding bosoms and softly curving hips.  Love it when it gets acne and first days of Aunt Flo.  Love it when (and if!) you gain weight in your face, belly, thighs and hips from carrying a child into this world.  Love it when first gray hairs pop up and soft lines appear.  Love it by eating right, most of the time and by treating it to chocolate cake sometimes too.

Love your body because it is a gift.  Whether perfectly healthy or marred by disease, it was crafted for you by the stars and all that is holy.  It is perfect for you.  It is the vehicle for your journey.  Don’t let it break down under the weight of judgements or junk food.  Love your body because your body loves you.

#9 QUESTION it all, RESEARCH and repeat.

We live in an age of infinite information.   Google is at everyone’s finger tips.  Research is only a few clicks away instead of archaic cards cataloged by Dewey decimals and quickly sliding microfiche.   Use the tools of the internet for something other than pictures of cats and quick-witted memes.  When something feels wrong, question it.  When you hear something that goes against what you believe in your heart to be true, question it.  Question me and your dad.  Question your teachers.  Question your friends.  Question everyone you meet and see what their answers are and if they match up with yours.  Then research on your own.  Find the answers that make sense to you.  Find the right fit for your heart and soul.

Search out your place in the jungles of time and space via questions and research.  This is how you will find your SELF.  This is how you will grow into the being you desire to be.  Knowledge is power.  It is the key to understanding.  Find people who are other than you and learn from them.  Visit cultures and lands unlike our own.  Read about religions and races that don’t share our Anglo-American faces.   Question it all and then do it again.  As time passes and experience changes your views,  as you relearn old lessons you thought you had mastered, question it all and research again and again.

#10 Trust your INSTINCTS.

There is a bell that lives in our hearts.  It rings with TRUTH.  It NEVER lies.  Listen to it.  Trust it.  When that bell goes off believe it.  That bell is the sound of Gods love.  Follow that bell, it will lead to truth and love and light.

There is an alarm that lives in our gut.  It pangs in DANGER.  It NEVER lies.  Listen to it.  Trust it.  When that alarm goes off believe it.  That alarm is the sound of Gods warning.  Disregard that alarm and it will lead to hard lessons, again and again until the lesson is learned and the right path is chosen.

Sometimes the messages are mixed.  They may come from both places, a painful truth to be heard.   Sometimes there is no way to avoid the danger you’ve been warned of, no way to avoid the pain.  Sometimes the message is only a reassurance that there will be more messages to come.  It is tempting to ignore the messages, many times they go against what we may desperately think we want.  We argue against them, make justifications for their inability to correctly read a situation.  We may pretend not to hear them.  We may speak over them with our egos thoughts and desires.  These are the lies we tell ourselves.  We know they are lies when we tell them, but the lies we tell ourselves are most comforting.

God is a whisper, Ego is a scream.  What I have learned through trial and error is that the more you listen to the whispers, the less you will scream.  Trust your instincts and you will be rewarded with deeper insights.  Know that you are being watched over by a thousand angels and they want to guide you towards supreme happiness.  Trust your instincts they are sent from above.

#11 BEWARE of the deep end.

Emotions are like a swimming pool.  Joy, happiness, peace these are the shallow end, where we can play and splash around carefree.  Sorrow, grief, depression, these are the deep end, where we teach ourselves to dive deep, fully submerged from the world above.  Emotions unto themselves are needed.  Each serves a purpose in our lives.  Sometimes life pushes us head first into the deep end, sputtering and swallowing, choking and gasping for air.   These times are unavoidable; Everyone gets wet.

Beware of the deep end though.  Beware of wallowing there.  Beware of sinking into the depths below and the pressure that builds from being so far under water.  Beware of the drain of melancholy pulling you down.  Beware of the false comfort of lying in the deathly calm and quiet solitude at the bottom of the pool that is depression.

Swim for the shallow end as fast as you can.  Call out to us, your parents, teachers and friends,  we are your lifeguards if you feel yourself going under, feel too tired to swim any more.  No one is in this pool alone; Everyone gets wet.  When you get to the shallow end, when you feel safe and steady once more, look back and see if there is any one else treading water, bobbing around in the deep end, slipping under the surface.  Reach out your hand and be a life guard for them.  Everyone gets wet but there is safety in numbers.

#12 Anything GREAT takes great EFFORT.

Some people thrive on a challenge.  Some people are naturally motivated go-getters that make plans and set goals and just seem to instinctively know how to achieve.  My husband is one of them, I am not.  I live for procrastination.  I drag my feet.  I put off for tomorrow what should have been done last week.   I make excuses and justifications.  I am fully aware of this flaw even if I hate to admit it.  I hope that you take after your dad in this, but just in case your cut from my cloth I hope to warn you, anything great takes a great effort.  Things that are easy and easily attained don’t keep their value as much as the ones we work our butts off for.

Do the work.  Make a plan.  Keep a list.  Take the first step on that thousand step journey.  Just do IT.  It will be worth it, I promise.  It was easy for me to throw my life away, to ignore my talents, to listen to the darkness of doubt.  It was a slippery slope to Hell that thankfully only took a few years and not my entire lifetime.  The idea of getting it back was daunting, the path to recovery seemed a million miles long.   Rebuilding a life from the ashes of my past seemed impossible.  Yet I took the first step.  Then God stepped in.  Those thousand angels came to my rescue the moment I was willing to work for it.  I am not the exception, this is the rule.

I see you struggling right now.  I see you frustrated that part of your dream isn’t easy or isn’t as easy as it was just a short while ago.  I see you, clenching your fist in frustration, stubborn tears welling up in your eyes, wishing for a smooth path instead of the steep climb you are on.  Yet, I also see you diligently working.  I see you putting effort forth, gritting your teeth with determination to succeed.  I see that as much as you are like me, emotional, procrastinating, and headstrong, you are also like your dad, determined, motivated, unwilling to fail.

Do the work.  Make a plan.  Keep a list.  All of your dreams will come true.  I promise.

Caged in My Brain

When I was much younger my parents were heavily involved in Vietnam Veterans support groups.  My dad being a Vet and my mom being appalled at the treatment the vets had received coming home.  They would take us to Veterans rally’s and flag raising ceremonies.  One of their groups even had a “POW cage” they took to events.  It was a replica of the cages used to keep the prisoners of war.  It was made of bamboo sticks tied together with braided ropes and was the equivalent of a dog crate for humans.  Barely enough room to lay curled up and maybe turn around a little but not much else.

It has stuck in my memory.  It is the model for my own imaginary prison.  When I am suffering from PMS, the regular me, the me that everyone knows most days of the month is stuffed into that little cage.  The rest of me is taken over by the POW/MIA (Prisoner of Womanhood/Mentally In Absentia) who typically resides there.  Just as you’d suspect, once released she is out for vengeance.  She is tormented and tormenting.  Irrational and irate.  In short, she’s crazy!  She says things I don’t have the heart to say, even if I do sort of agree with her.  She gets enraged and her blood boils to the point that her skin is crawling as if she is being eaten alive by jungle mosquitoes!  She lacks focus and is overly emotional.  She is flinging poo at any one stupid enough to come close to the cage.  She has degenerated into pure beast mode.

Meanwhile, me, the real me, sweet, happy, positive, non-poo flinging me is locked in my mental cage screaming for her to stop.

Please don’t say that!

Please, you don’t really mean that!

It’s not going to end well if you say that!

She never listens,  she just keeps plugging away.  Spewing days, weeks, months, sometimes even years worth of past anger, hurt, bitterness, jealousy, paranoia, rage, anger, self doubt, self righteousness, and hate.   It’s never pretty but it sure has gotten ugly a few times.

I read recently that the cause of this hostage situation is hormonal. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone battling it out in the mine field of my mind.   My body the demilitarized zone between my head and my heart.  Estrogen retreats back and Testosterone surges past the front lines, smashing through emotional walls and busting the lock on my POW/MIA cage releasing the beast.  Eventually peace loving Estrogen wins out,  pushing that Testosterone fueled POW back into the cage for another few weeks.

It may seem unfair that we women are forced to fight this constantly re-occurring battle, the waxing and waning of hormone levels, the ups and downs of being a girl, the crazy irrationality, the emotional instability, the unhinged responses to even the most mundane events, the indecisiveness,  the full on rage over really nothing.  It would seem that would be completely unfair, except at least we have Estrogen – in case you missed it, boys do not.  So those super crazy days, right before you start bleeding, with Estrogen running low and Testosterone coming on strong are the closest we women ever come to being male.

So next time some silly boy says something reeeeaaaaallllly stupid like “Are you on your period?” Just let your POW know (after she’s done screaming at him) at least her prison sentence has a monthly reprieve, 3 weeks off for good behavior.  That guy?  He’s a lifer with no chance of escape.

 

 

Today I love my husband, yesterday not so much.

I am not usually one for these type of witty worded signs.  Most are so cheesy and saccharine that my immediate reaction is a heavy eye roll followed by my index finger pointed into my mouth in an exaggerating a gag.  You know, the universal sign for BARF.  This one however, this one got me.  This is a sign any one who has ever loved any one can understand.  Platonic love, passionate love, friend love, sibling love, married love: they all bear varying amounts of rage inducing frustration and prodigious levels of annoyance.  Some days more than others.  Some years more than others.

Last weekend, I fell in deeply, madly in love with my husband, for like the millionth time.  Today I’d like to strangle him.  That’s my marriage folks.  There are times when he’s talking to me about his work or our kids and I am so impressed at the man he’s become.  I marvel at the growth I’ve been lucky enough to witness during our relationship.  During these times I am proud to be his wife.  Then there’s days when the sound of his voice is enough to make my skin vibrate with madness.  Then there are times when’s he’s talking about certain politicians or current events and I am so beside myself with unbridled outrage I marvel that we have made it this far.

How far is this far?  My husband and I met in Jr High.  That is more than 25 years of love, hatred, frustration, rage, annoyance, forgiveness, drama, passion, longing, repulsion, excitement and boredom.  We have been friends, enemies, lovers and indifferent adversaries.  We have been through a bitter break up where we did unspeakably nasty things to hurt each other and we have been through a reconciliation where we did therapy and support groups to learn how to love and respect each other.  Do we still do unspeakably nasty things to each other?  Yep.  Maybe not as nasty and unspeakable as we once were but definitely not nice.  Do we still use what we have learned in therapy and support groups to reconcile these snags? Yep.  Maybe not as often and easily as we should but we definitely make the effort.

I think that is one of the many secrets of marriage.  That’s what no movie or book seems to honestly relay.  It’s effort.  It is a supreme effort to be in love with someone day in and day out.  It’s a Herculean task and quite frankly, it is impossible.  That’s another secret.  A big one.  The one I have rarely (like maybe never?) heard about.  Well here it is, brace yourself.  I am not in love with my husband every day (yep I said it!) AND I fully expect that he is not in love with me everyday!  We have love for each other.  We do love each other.  But in love?  Nah.

In love is too engrossing, too consuming.  When I am in love with him I can’t stand to be away.  I am drawn to his presence and person.  I want us in a cocoon of sheets and blankets.  I want arms wrapped around and legs entwined.  I want to breathe in his cologne and feel his stubble on my face.  I want silly inside jokes and softly spoken words.  It is heady and intoxicating and probably slightly co-dependent and seriously, who’s got time or energy for that on the daily?

Then there are the rest of the days.  The long, endless steam of days that bleed into each other.  Where making morning coffee turns into making dinner turns into turning down the bed. Sleep. Snooze button. Snooze button. Repeat.  Along the way are good days, and really great, fantastic. wonder filled days.  Along the way are bad days, depressed, PMS days and even occasionally horrifyingly tragic days.  Along the way are ho-hum, same ole same ole boredom days.  And just as the trademark voice over says, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives.” 

Which brings me to the best kept secret.  It’s one of the few things I know that I know, for sure and without a doubt.  It is one of the greatest sources of my own serenity and keeps me happily married and content in life.  Once I grasped it, my marriage and my life irrevocably changed.

Without the sour, there is no sweet. 

Without the days I want to strangle him, there is no appreciation for the days I love him blindly.  With out the ho hum days there is no context for the exhilarating ones.  So simple, so succinct.  It is what I remember when I want to strangle him.  It is what I remember whenever the days are bad and times are tough.  It keeps the hard times tempered with hope.  It makes me look forward to the next 25 years with this knuckle head.  Sure there will be times that are sour, sad and heartbreaking but I know they only serve to remind me of the glorious high that comes from spending your life with someone and to me that sounds pretty sweet.

 

Me & D and Babies 1, 2, 3 (cont’d)

I have previously posted (here) about my beautiful friend Dee and the stories of our first born boys and new baby girls and, as I previously posted, there was more to the story.

There comes a time in every woman’s life when she is done with makin’ babies.  For some it’s over before it even began, choosing not to ever have kids; I fully support these women and that choice.  Some don’t get to choose and only have the choice to accept a devastating and heartbreaking fact of life.  Some come close and lose only to keep trying for a rainbow baby and others don’t, giving up on one version of a dream in search of another story, perhaps via adoption or surrogacy.  Each story is unique, layered, and multi-faceted.

My own pregnancies seemed destined for me.  Their timing a predetermined fork in the road, put in place by the Orchestrator of It All and most definitely not of my own choosing.  I have had  4 pregnancies, I have 2 kids.  I have no shame about the choices I have made.  It was personal and, for me, there wasn’t really a choice.  The two pregnancies I carried to term, I knew immediately were meant to be.  The two that weren’t, I knew immediately were not. But this is not about me or my choices, it’s about Dee and Baby #3.

Dee who had wanted so badly and had lost.  Dee who had waited gratefully and six years earlier been blessed with Mia.  Dee who had thought she too was done with baby makin’ until the Orchestrator of It All put a fork, errr more like, Stork in her road.   My bubbly beautiful friend was not as spirited about this surprise bundle.

She was pissed.  (“Jo, I had just committed to losing weight and getting healthy!  I was even working out with a trainer and bringing my own healthy food to work and my job CATERS LUNCH EVERY DAY!”)

She was embarrassed. (Jo, how am I gonna tell my 21 year old son to ‘be careful’ and then I go and get knocked up!)

She was afraid. (“Jo, do you have any idea how OLD I will be when this kid is graduating high school?)

These concerns and more were bared at a reunion party I threw for our old office gang.  Most of our former colleagues were supportive.  Trying to cheer her up with positive words and encouragement.  She was only 8-10 weeks or so at this time.  Quite early on really and since I have a big mouth and often am one to say that uncomfortable but sometimes necessary thing I offered, “You know you don’t have to have this baby right?” (gasp!  yes, there was an actual gasp as I brought up the one thing we were probably all thinking.)  “There are other options you know?”

Dee knew her options.  Of course she knew.  She knew her options and she knew her only choice.  Just as I had known my options and my only choices.  She may not have asked for it, may not have planned it, wasn’t 100% sure about it but knew that regardless of how she felt, this baby was meant to be born.  She grumbled and complained and joked and cried and kept slogging her way through the pregnancy and baby shower and months and weeks leading up to her due date.  I thought of her often during this time, almost daily.  In all honesty, it freaked me out.  All of her concerns ran through my head on repeat and though I never told her, I was terrified for her.  I knew that I couldn’t have done it;  I wouldn’t have been strong enough.

Isn’t that the funny thing about Life?  God gives us what we can handle.  There’s plenty in my own history that many folks would run screaming from, but God knew I could handle it.  Just as He knew I would have ran screaming from that stork, but not Dee.  Dee could handle this.  As Life winds along and lessons pile up often the thing we are most afraid of, the thing we think is all wrong for us, the thing that seems like it is just the absolute worst idea ever many times turns out to be exactly the thing we needed all along.  For me, those things looked like jail, eviction, and support groups, for Dee it was Baby #3.  These events brought us wisdom, patience, gratitude, and even more faith that there is a plan at work here.

In just over a week, Dee and our babies, family, friends and even a few of our former colleagues will gather to celebrate the first birthday of Baby #3.  Happy Birthday Brooklyn Monroe!  God knew your mama’s heart better than she could and sent you, our Queen B! Welcome to Planet Earth little angel, we’re so glad you’re here!