Going to My 10 Year Reunion

capssucka

Yep.  I’m going to my 10 year reunion.  For high school.  With people I graduated next to.  Because:

Social Media. capssucka

10 years ago, I was so freaking happy to be out of high school.  My life ahead of me, my not terrible but not amazing years as a high school student behind me.

I was NEVER going back.

Reunions?  For suckers.  Glorified preening parties for people who were popular in school and wanted to show off that they still had it.

‘It’ being something that I never had.

I was a choir geek, horrible at sports, and “not skinny” or moderately fashionable.  Of course now I would kill to have my high school body again, but hey, such is life.  My close friends had either graduated the year before me or would graduate the year after me.  There really wasn’t anyone in my class except my best friend/soon-to-be-roommate that I was terribly worried about keeping in touch with.

As far as I was concerned, everyone from my graduating class may as well not have existed for how much thought I would give them for the rest of my life.

And then, social media happened.

First, it started with old acquaintances reaching out to me, and, eventually, me to them.  Hey, well, maybe this isn’t so bad.  It’s cool to know they’re doing well.  And look at how much we actually have in common when you take away the bullshit of high school hierarchy.

Next, reconnecting with some friends who had gone their own way on not-so-pleasant terms.  Cautiously reconnecting, it was a great feeling to be able to say, Dude, I was stupid, I’m sorry.  Are we cool now?  And we were.  Side pondering: Is that how guys apologize?  Just all zen, water-under-the-bridge type stuff?  Because it’s so easy peasy.

Then, suddenly finding yourself having a dialogue with people you barely interacted with on a daily basis in school, via a mutual friend’s posting.  Enjoying the dialogue so much that you cautiously reach out the ‘hand’ of social media friendship, and there you are, given access to the pieces of their daily life they wish to share with the people they’re connected with.  You.  You are suddenly part of that circle.

It becomes the new platform for sharing achievements, woes, and general lifely things that you never would have guessed at or known about on your own.

Engagements, marriages, children, degrees, jobs, deaths, vacations, moves, achievements…  You have a front row seat to see and remark on them when they happen.

Gone are the days of storing all of your cool happenings for a night or weekend of preening in front of the people you spent 4 years elbowing to maintain your place on the social ladder of high school.

Now, we can come together just as people, already knowing the amazing or mundane things the others have been up to.

Sure, there are many of my class of 400 people who I am not in touch with, who may not even remember me or know who I am.  For the most part though, the playing field has been leveled.

And I am so ready to go out and play.  Of course, by play, I mean party.  Because we’re adults now, and our parents can’t stop us.

I Refuse to Put My Phone Down

phonedown

Maybe that’s a bit extreme.  Maybe instead of “I refuse to put my phone down” it should say “I’m not going to stop capturing memories as often as I can.”

Because, I’m forgetting.  I hate to admit it, but there it is.

I’m forgetting.

I’m forgetting the way Cabin Girl looked as a baby.  Cabin Boy and Mr. Monkey, too.  I see their sweet baby faces every time I look at The Kraken, but when I try to remember their faces specifically… it’s slipping.

The toothy grins.  The little teeth.  The funny looks.

The phases of their precious babyhoods flew by so fast.  Their toddlerhoods and childhoods, everything sweeping by us in what feels like eternity but passes in a blink.  The days drag by but the weeks, months, and years are speeding past, too quickly to keep hold of.

And so I take my pictures.  I step out of one moment for 10 seconds so that I can capture it, savor it, and have it forever when I will no longer remember clearly.  I refuse to put my phone down, to be bullied by phrases like “You’re missing out on the here and now!”

I am enjoying the moment, stepping back from it, then jumping right back in.  No regrets that night, kicking myself for not capturing the way The Kraken gazed at her big brothers while they sang sweet songs to her.  They aren’t just moments for me, they’re moments for my kids, too.  Some day, my kids will hear me tell stories about the things they did together, the little, everyday things, and I’ll have to struggle to remember what they looked like.  Or, heavens forbid, I won’t remember some of the best, simple things they did.

So I refuse to put my phone down.

Because that day of not remembering is coming sooner than I’d hoped.

Accept that aging doesn’t diminish spousal attraction

spousalattract

Does age change the attraction you feel for your spouse?  Do you worry about your spouse wishing you looked different?

Even though I’m not yet out of my twenties, being a mother of 4 is taking its toll on me.  Mentally, emotionally, and, most notably, physically.  Captain will be 30 this year, and the tolls of hard work and stress are showing on him, too.

Tell-tale signs of self-neglect lay the foundation for insecurities that I’d hoped to be past by this point of my life; Dry skin, yesterday’s makeup still smeared beneath my eyes, crows feet, frown lines, and frizzy hair, to name a few.  Add onto those the major changes having babies puts you through; Wider hips, stretch marks, extra weight, and changed breasts.

So many things that I look at and think: Ugh.

Enough things to make me wonder why Captain still takes an interest in me, as I’m clearly not the 17 year old girl he encountered when we first met anymore.

Things that make me consider expensive treatments to fix.

Until the other night, when I was cutting Captain’s hair and noticed that his hair is thinning.  If, as they say, men should look to their mother’s side of the family to find out what their predispositions for hairloss will be are true, then he’s on the road to becoming completely bald before he’s 40.

I looked at him, really looked, later that night, and saw what I’ve always known was there: stretchmarks over his muscular thighs, laugh lines and crows feet of his own, moles, and his receding hairline.  Things that really aren’t attractive at all. spousalattract

I really absorbed the way Captain has started to age, and you know what?

It didn’t change the way I feel about him one bit.

His extra weight doesn’t make me want him less.  His complexion doesn’t make me less attracted to him.  His silvering, thinning hair doesn’t make me want to go out and find a younger man to romp around with.

Why would I assume that the faults I see in myself would make him love or desire me less?

So, the next time he calls me beautiful, I’ll accept it with a smile.

When he says he finds me sexy, I’ll put my self-depreciating doubt behind me.

Because I love more than his body.

He deserves me to be accepting of his loving more than mine.

I am my own worst critic.

notsafe

I’m struggling.

I thought I was over it, but I’m not.

Is it because I’m a Gemini?  I truly feel like there are two parts of me.

My ‘bad’ twin is Elsa.  My ‘good’ twin is Anna.

Over and over in my brain I hear them singing in reprise:

Anna: It’s okay, you can just unfreeze it!

Elsa: No, I can’t.
I — I don’t know how!

Anna: Sure you can! I know you can!
`Cause for the first time in forever,
Elsa: Oh
I’m such a fool!
I can’t be free!

Anna: You don’t have to be afraid…
Elsa: No escape from the storm inside of me!

Anna: We can work this out together!
Elsa: I can’t control the curse!

Anna: We’ll reverse the storm you’ve made
Elsa: Anna, please, you’ll only make it worse!

Anna: Don’t panic!
Elsa: There’s so much fear!

Anna: We’ll make the sun shine bright!
Elsa: You’re not safe here!

Anna: We can face this thing together!
Elsa: No!

Anna: We can change this winter weather!
Elsa: AHHHHH…

Anna: And everything will be all right…
Elsa: I CAN’T!

I can’t.

I’m pulled so many different ways by this storm.  This damn depression that has me feeling like every day is eternal winter.

In attempting to find help in the things I enjoy, writing and, recently, using oil pastels, I am left dissatisfied.

Nothing lives up to my expectations anymore.

I am my own biggest critic… I can’t control the curse…

I am struggling to hear the good twin’s voice… there’s so much fear

I am looking for ways to take the good in my life to heart… you’re not safe here…

And I’m failing… I can’t…

I feel like I need to put some of my goals on the back-burner, but that reeks of failure.

I don’t want to be okay.  I want to be great.  Instead of trying and failing at being great, I do nothing.

Yet, I’m stretched so thin with hopes and dreams that every minuscule detail is magnified, and I can not look past the parts that need fixing to see a whole.

But how to appreciate the whole, without ignoring the things that do need to be fixed..?

I’m working on it.

But not well enough.

Will YOU Be My Galentine?

happygalday

Yes, YOU.

With all the hype about Valentine’s Day, many women are listing why they don’t care about it, they hate it, or they could do without it.

Myself included.

Is it a defense mechanism?

Maybe.  It’s one of those ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ type things.  I know my husband won’t do anything nearly as romantic as Suzy Q’s husband, so I’ll just tell myself that I don’t need it/want it/care about it.

I know some of you out there really, truly don’t care.  Massive kudos to you!

Others, well… others just want to feel a little special.  A little appreciated.  Just a bit.

That’s why stumbling upon Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls Galentine’s Day event on G+ has me SO excited. (Yeah, yeah… Jessica, they did that on Parks and Rec, like, forever ago! Well, I don’t watch Parks and Rec, sassy pants.)

Because, we DON’T need to rely on the lovers in our lives to make us feel special.  We have whole communities of people who love each other just because they’re people, and worth loving.

People just like you.

YOU, who works 60 hours a week.

YOU, who works part time while going to school.

YOU, who is laid off and taking time to rediscover your hobbies.

YOU, who stays home with your kids.

YOU, who serves in our nation’s military.

YOU, who jetsets and explores this huge, amazing world we live in.

You.  Yes, you.

I want YOU to be my Galentine.  I want to celebrate the awesomeness that is you.  Not because I want to get laid, or because I’m socially obligated to make you feel special.

But because you deserve it, Galentine.  For being awesomely, perfectly, unapologetically you.

Call me sometime, and we’ll go do Gal-Pal stuff.  I’ll listen to you rant about the new guy at work, I’ll spare you the details of the latest poop catastrophe my 2 year old created, and we’ll laugh over mimosas and pedicures.

gal1platonic gal2crazy gal3pedisI put stuff in my hair and did my makeup for these, you guys.
You’re welcome.

It was written for romance, but ‘A Thousand Years’ is far better as a lullaby

thousandyears

Christina Perri wrote A Thousand Years to capture the love story of Edward and Bella in the film Breaking Dawn Part 1.

Now, judge me if you must, but I’m a fan of the Twilight Saga.  It was an epic fantasy, and provided a wonderful escape from reality, which is why I read.  I love a few moments each day in a world with possibilities beyond humanity.

I also adore Christina’s song, but not because of Edward and Bella.

Time and again, no matter how often I hear this song, it brings me back to the first moments I had with each of my children:

“Heart beats fast,
Colors and promises”

My dreams of becoming a mother, mother of two, three, four…  In the urgent seconds just before their precious lives became forever part of mine.

“How to be brave
How can I love when I’m afraid
To fall”

Will I be able?  Will I be enough for this little person of mine?

“But watching you stand alone
All of my doubt
Suddenly goes away somehow

One more push, Jessica.

“One step closer”

It’s time…

“I have died every day waiting for you
Darlin’ don’t be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more”

And then the baby is here, being placed on my chest…

 “Time stands still beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything
Take away
What’s standing in front of me “

I reach for Captain’s hand, he smiles at both of us…

“Every breath,
Every hour has come to this
One step closer”

The nurse gives the baby to Captain, and I watch him run a finger along the baby’s frictionless cheeks…

“I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin’ don’t be afraid
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more”

My heart swells when his eyes return to mine…

“And all along I believed
I would find you
Time has brought
Your heart to me
I have loved you for a
Thousand years”

We make a silent pact…

“I’ll love you for a
Thousand more”

We watch our family grow…

“One step closer”

And grow…

“One step closer”

And then, it is complete.

“I have died every day
Waiting for you
Darlin’ don’t be afraid,
I have loved you for a
Thousand years
I’ll love you for a
Thousand more”

And every day, they flourish…

“And all along I believed
I would find you”

These pieces of me that live outside of me…

“Time has brought
Your heart to me”

These testaments to the love Captain and I share…

“I have loved you for a
Thousand years”

These children who call me Mommy.

“I’ll love you for a
Thousand more”

Edward and Bella can keep their fantasy love.

I have all I need right here.

Good vs. Great

goodvsgreat

“Do you ever just get frustrated that you don’t have something you’re great at?  I know I’m good at a lot of things, and, given time and effort, I could be great at them as well…  But, I know myself.  I get bored easily, and what feels fun one week turns into a chore the next.  I am surrounded by such an amazing group of talented people and almost every single day I get jealous and depressed, because I haven’t found my ‘thing’ yet.  How do I narrow it down to one, five, or even ten things that I’d like to learn and become better at?  I’m sick of waiting for it to come to me, yet I’m so afraid of wasting my time, money, and energy on something that I will eventually not like to do…”

I wrote the above piece nearly 2 years ago.  Since then, I started running 5ks, Crossfitting, knitting, and became more serious about gardening and becoming self-sustaining.

Since then, we have also had our lives turned upside down by a sooner-than-planned pregnancy and last minute move for a new job for Captain.

Now that the proverbial dust has settled, I have to reevaluate everything.  What we can afford, what will be worth my time and energy (considering that we are in a temporary rental until our house sells and we can build our forever home), what will give me the challenge and satisfaction I need, what will keep me emotionally stable.

I’m finding that I want everything.  I want to run, get back into Crossfit, and try yoga.  I want a huge garden and animals to provide us with food.  I want a proliferate herb garden to make my own teas and fill my spice cupboard.  I want to learn how to paint, to advance my knitting and sewing skills, to refine some jewelry making techniques.  I want to relearn French and start learning Spanish and ASL.  I want to advocate for new and expecting mothers, create a non-profit for feeding hungry kids, and participate in cloth diaper pantries.  I want to improve my writing, have a flourishing blog, and write stories.  I want to plan parties and events, bake delicious treats, and have my crafts be coveted works of art.

And through all this, I want to be a good mother who teaches my kids that not only can they be anything, they can be everything.  I want them to know that you are never to old to learn, try new things, or become better.

I’m not interested in being a one hit wonder.

Watching Her Walk Away

intentional

We butt heads all. the. time.  Cabin Girl and I.  She is her mother’s daughter, with her Aunt’s Leo tenacity, and her daddy’s smarts and penchant for whining.  It is a struggle, daily, to get her to eat the breakfast she requested.  An hour to eat a piece of toast and a bowl of yogurt?  I just don’t understand.  Moving through her morning routine so slowly that I’ve had to start waking her up earlier and earlier just to get her out the door on time.

I help where I can… but between taking care of The Kraken and making sure the boys are fed and not destroying anything, I rarely have the chance.  This oldest girl of mine, who I had hoped wouldn’t be forced to grow up quicker than necessary.

I see her off to school, every morning.  Walk her to the end of the driveway and watch her trudge the 2 blocks to the corner where she’ll turn towards her school, crossing guards, school buses and friends.

Something about the past few days has me seeing with super clarity right now.  The importance of focusing on these children, these moments that seem too hectic, so chaotic, yet inherently mundane.

Maybe it’s because Captain, The Kraken and I are leaving this afternoon, for the weekend.  Maybe it’s because I know I haven’t been 100% present lately.  Maybe it’s because I’m finally past the uphill struggle of getting this PPD behind me.  But something inside told me to watch her.  Really watch her walk away this morning.  In her purple skull leggings, under her fuzzy boots and a striped kerchief skirt.  Her Mike Wazowski backpack fitting her just right, no longer over-sized, hitting the back of her knees as she half-heartedly bounced her way through the wind.  Leaves scattering everywhere, swirling around her feet before fluttering on their whirlwind course.

I’m glad I held her hand, hugged her tight, kissed her twice, and hugged her again before sending her on her way.  I’m glad I waited to see her turn around for one last wave before she rounded the corner.

I know I haven’t been the best, or the nicest, mom lately.  I have a lot to work on still.  Again.  It will be a war, kicking my frustrations and impatience to the curb.  There will be days when I lose battles, and have to retreat from skirmishes.  But it will be a war worth fighting for.

Because this girl, these children, deserve an intentional and consistent love, not a sporadic, implied one.

Oh Captain, My Captain

captain

There are a lot of sayings out there about love.  How terrifying it is.  How great it is.  How much work it is.  How simple.  How complex.  How it fills you up and leaves you empty at the same time.

All of them?  True.  Undeniably, inexplicably true.  How can so many adjectives apply to the same thing?

When I met Captain, I had just come out of a semi-serious relationship of 2 years.  When he walked in the door all of my insides seemed to flip upside down and inside out.  I knew; He was special.

I fell in love with him, hard and fast.  The feelings I had for him began to permeate every bit of my heart, mind, and soul.  Every fiber of my being, there is now a piece of him in it.  Thinking about being without him?  Unimaginable.  Considering it makes me physically ill.

When we started having kids, that didn’t change.  I don’t love him more than I love my kids, but I love him different.

Our relationship came first, and it always will.  A day will come when our kids leave to start their own families.  To find their own spouse that will become their entire universe, and I hope they do find them as early as Captain and I found each other.  But when they leave, we will be left with just each other, and I want that time to be just as passionate as our time before kids.

He is the most important person in my life.  My kids are important, yes, but we share the love and responsibility for them.  If he were to leave I would be left alone in that burden.  I would have to leave my kids in the hands of someone else every day so I could work.  If he were to leave I would lose my biggest champion.  I would lose my best friend.

So he is my priority.

Oh, I don’t leave the baby screaming so I can rub his feet, but there are a few things I try to do as often as possible (and that lately I need to do more of) to show him that, despite all the chaos, he is the most important person in my life.

Bring him his coffee. (If I’m up at the same time.)

Make him a hot breakfast. (Again, if I’m awake.)

Help make his lunch.

Send him a text or two letting him know I’m thinking about him, and that I appreciate him.

Make sure he gets a half hour of uninterrupted time after he gets home from work to wind down and shower off the day.

Serve some of his favorite meals rather than kid friendly ones.

Give him back rubs/head rubs while we’re watching tv.

Ensure he has clean laundry.

Initiate intimacy.

Yes, a lot of it is gender stereotypical stuff, but we’re a stereotypical family.  We share the duties of some things (i.e: He helps me with dishes because I HATE them, and we fold laundry together), but for the most part it is my job to keep the house running smoothly while he brings home the bacon.  Making our home a welcoming place for him to come to after he works a long day to take care of us financially is one of the ways I take care of him.

Without him, I wouldn’t have my beautiful family.

Without him, I could very well still be on a path of self destruction.

Without him, I wouldn’t get butterflies in my stomach every single day.

Without him, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be chosen as someone worth loving every day.

He is my most important person.  My special someone.  My person.  We dream of growing old and grey together.  After the kids are gone and busy with their own families, he is the one I will spend the rest of my days with.

He is my Captain, and I will always be grateful for him.

captain

 

We Become

webecome

Surround yourself with beauty.

Surround yourself with people who make you happy.

With people who build you up.

Surround yourself with positivity.

And you will become; Beautiful, happy, uplifting, positive.

But, those of us surrounded by the constant mayhem that comes with having children?

The ones who already live with the threat of depression ever on their minds?

When the simple act of going to the bathroom alone leaves room for the unmitigated destruction of the rest of the house?

When the people we care for do nothing but whine, bicker, and fight?

What do we become?

We embody that which surrounds us.

Chaos.

Disorder.

Noise.

Destruction.

Like the poor who can’t make a long term financial plan, because an extra $10 saved won’t matter in the face of three overdue bills, we, the depressed, struggle to see the point in doing just one thing for ourselves.

Why should we?  We’ll only return to the same old environment.  Hear the same complaints.  Clean up the same messes.  Fight the same fights.

That 30 minute run is our $10 bill.  The toys thrown everywhere, the lack of well-fitting clothing, and the meal that will take too much energy to prepare are our delinquent power, utility, and phone bills.

Once those bills come in, that $10 won’t matter.  Because we’ll still be so overdrawn, so in debt, that the $10 becomes a drop in the ever growing bucket.  We can try to squeeze out every drop we can, but the bucket grows into a tub, the tub becomes a pool, the pool turns into a lake, and the lake suddenly morphs into an ocean.  webecome

 

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