Saturday, June 17, 2017

To The Divine Masculine.

It is no secret I have a deep reverence for women, for mothers, and for the Divine Feminine energy I see pulsing through this beautiful planet. However, on Father's Day, I want to focus my energy and gratitude toward the Divine Masculine and express my gratitude for the men and fathers in my life.

I am so grateful for my Daddy. He has been on a pedestal all my life, and for good reason. He is calm, collected, and has always been ready to catch me when I fall. He taught me to ride a bike at Lilah Grace's age, without training wheels! He took me camping on countless Indian Princess trips. He taught me the importance of listening to lyrics and appreciating good music.

I am so grateful for my father in law. He prepares dinner every single Sunday night for the entire family. He is focused on his family, and providing for us, whether that means working hard at his job, or grilling food for us all to eat. He has been extremely supportive of George and I when we became parents, and has been so motivating and spiritually connected to us during that transition into parenthood. He sets the bar so high.

I am so grateful for my husband. He is not my father, but he is an amazing father to our girls. Watching him keep his cool while talking Lilah Grace out of a fit impresses me. Watching him prepare healthy meals and cutting them up into small pieces for Everleigh is so endearing. I love seeing him play guitar or pedal steel while the girls stare in adoration. I love seeing him hoist Evy up on the stool at the drumset, and encouraging her to rock on. Seeing him snuggled up with both girls in our bed is one of my favorite things in this lifetime. He works tirelessly, providing for us a roof over our head, food in our bellies, and health insurance for peace of mind. I can never thank him enough for all the work + love he pours into this family, keeping us afloat. My morbid mind often races, thinking about how lost I'd be without him. I can't imagine doing this without my partner.

During this administration, I have found myself extremely disgusted with men. Hearing Trump utter the words "I grab 'em by the pussy, I moved on her like a bitch," and knowing how many men ((and women!)) voted for him anyway, was extremely disappointing to me. I understand not every Trump voter supported these statements, but they were willing to accept them and vote for him anyway. Quick sidenote, here is a bulleted list of comments our current president has made about women:

  • That Megyn Kelly had blood coming out of her ‘wherever.’
  • That Hillary Clinton got "schlonged" by Obama in 2008.
  • That “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have an abortion.
  • That he still believes sexual assault is an expected consequence of allowing women to serve in the military.
  • That the women who Roger Ailes sexually assaulted were "just complaining."
  • Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe who says Trump called her “Miss Piggy” (after she gained some weight) and “Miss Housekeeping” (because she is Latina). 
  • That Lindsay Lohan was probably "good in bed" because girls with "daddy issues" are the best in bed.
  • That he was able to watch Miss Teen America contestants change backstage, as one of the perks of being the owner of the competition.

Clearly, when I mention "The Divine Masculine," I am not referring to this disgusting excuse of a human being, nor anybody who thinks like him. But the good news is, not every man is like our current President. Thankfully, as a result of our misogynistic president, many men are becoming MORE outspoken on women's issues.

Seeing man after man after man sexually assault, rape, and/or kill women, and the justice system excusing them from serving time, has left me feeling hopeless and angry. However, the more I focus on these instances, the more I will continue to see these horrible situations manifest. I know I need to turn my energy toward the men in my life who are allies. Who stand up on behalf of women, who march alongside women, who demand equal pay + equal say for women in legislature, and who revere the Divine Feminine. Not every man is Divine. Most human beings are walking around completely unaware of their purpose or Divinity...but to the men who know their worth, I bow in reverence today.

I believe the Divine Masculine energy is filled with strength. Physical strength, but also spiritual strength. No matter the obstacles placed in front of Him, He will overcome. He doesn't fight for other people; he fights for Truth and Justice. He is the Divine Protector. He sets clearly defined boundaries for Himself and His Family. He is a King. He doesn't bow to kneel or worship anybody. He knows the Divine is within Himself. He is resilient. He is stable. He is active, logical, determined, sensible, goal-oriented, smart, rugged, and disciplined.

When the Divine Masculine + Divine Feminine merge, the Divine Union becomes the building block of the entire universe. The Divine Masculine is the Oak, and the Divine Feminine is the Willow. The Divine Union is perfectly balanced, unconditionally accepting + loving + honoring. There is nothing more Holy than Divine Love.

I am honored to be in this body, at this time, with my Man. My Divine, Holy, Beautiful Husband, I love you, I respect you, and I honor you. Thank you for fathering our children with such Divine Love.

xo,
L


Sunday, May 14, 2017

To The Moms of Young Kids in 2017.

Dear Mothers of Young Children in 2017,

You are appreciated.

Thank you for every single lunch you made, and every caring note you wrote and tucked in the lunchbox. You did this every single day of the school year, and you weren't thanked a single time, but you continue to do it because your source of love for your children comes from the Divine.

And yet, the Divine has been historically called "Father God." Well, this year, I'm calling bullshit.

Thank you for every single dish you've put in the dishwasher, every single load of clean dishes you put away, every single dog hair you swept up, and every single load of disgusting human hair you took out of the hairbrush and threw away. Thank you for all of the comforting you provided for your teething child. Thank you for brushing your child's teeth. Thank you for finding clothes for your child. Thank you for feeding your child. Thank you for talking to, listening to, and playing with your child. Not one of these were acknowledged (and if you'd blown it off,  you know damn well you would have heard about it). But thank you.

Thank you for every load of laundry. Yes, all 12, every week, that you put in the washer, switch to the dryer, run an extra cycle because you're picking up your kid from school, take out of the dryer, fold, and put away. Thank you for doing this. If the laundry hadn't been done, you would've heard "Where is my white shirt? Where is my blue dress? I have no clean underwear!" but you did the laundry. You didn't hear a thank you. But you're getting it now.

Thank you for every class party. Thank you for every parent student conference. Thank you for every missed day of work so you could be present for your child. Thank you, to the moms who GAVE UP THEIR CAREERS AND ARE SOMEHOW RIDICULED FOR BEING LAZY?! Thank you to the moms who CAN'T TAKE A SICK DAY AND ARE SOMEHOW RIDICULED FOR BEING ABSENT PARENTS?!

Thank you for the fresh flowers that are always in the house. Thank you for the tidying up every other hour of every single day. Thank you for feeding the dogs, letting out the dogs, changing their water, and watering the house plants. Thank you for making this HOUSE A HOME.

Thank you for 9 months of SOBRIETY. Whether you asked for a child or winded up pregnant. Thank you for dealing with morning sickness, with heartburn, with monthly, then bi-weekly, then weekly appointments taking away from your career. Thank you for the lack of sleep, the cramping, the fatigue. Pregnancy is HARD. Thank you for BIRTHING. Whether you went without drugs, whether you did it from home, in the water, or you had an epidural, or you had a c-section. Who gives a shit. It's all hard.fucking.work. And not one man on the face of this planet EVER has done it. THANK YOU FOR THE GIFT OF LIFE.

Thank you to the moms who were willing to endure every ache, pain, contraction, and incision, but couldn't. And chose to pursue adoption or in vitro. Thank you for every paper you filled out, every appointment you scheduled. You are the organizer behind the scenes, and you do the bulk of the work. I know you do. You drive this ship, and your husband is called the Captain. Thank you.

Thank you to the biological moms who found themselves pregnant and knew they weren't ready. Let us not underestimate the wisdom and heartache they have been through. Warriors, every one of you.

Every act you do is taken for granted. Every single thing you do at this point is unacknowledged. You see your husband hold your toddler while walking from the park to the car and hear the accolades. "What a good daddy! What a hands-on father!" and you shrug it off. You know your efforts are taken for granted. He was born in a man's world, and so he is praised and you are constantly falling short. And if somehow, you are able to do every single thing expected of you, but somehow not fit in your pre-pregnancy jeans, or have your child naturally "the way God intended," or God Forbid, not have conceived and grown your child in utero, you are somehow innately flawed. You're not flawed. You're perfect. And you work your fine ass off every single day.

Thank you for dusting the house, or for finding the housekeeper who dusts your house and works out her schedule and pays her. Thank you for watching your children, or for finding the nanny who watches your children and works out her schedule and pays her. Thank you for planning your child's birthday party. Thank you for finding the babysitter for date night. Thank you for not having gone on a date for years, because you're a single mother and between work + parenting, there is no time for a love life.

Your children are too young to thank you so your children's father should.

And if he takes you for granted, just as most of this world does,
know that this woman,
behind this glowing screen,
sees you, acknowledges you, and thanks you.

And if he does appreciate you, and if he does thank you,
hold him close,
and know that he is a special man worthy of your love.

In the Name of The Mother, The Daughter, and The Holy Spirit. Amen.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

Mothers Rising

We are Women Rising.
Right here, right now, this is the age of the Mother.
Whether or not one has birthed a child, adopted a child, fostered a child…we, as women, are all Mothers of this Earth. 
We are all Mothers of this Country.
And, like any good mother, we must love and nurture our country back to health. Right here, right now
When a toddler is throwing a tantrum, the mother might want to raise her hand, or yell, but if she can take a deep breath and honor the Divine within her, she knows that child either needs time alone, or some attention. Perhaps, the child needs both. The Ultimate Mother allows her child space to feel those intense feelings, and then embraces and rocks her child. The Divine Mother kisses her child’s tear-soaked cheeks, and reminds the toddler, “I love you. I’m here, and I’ll love you forever.” It is through love that the child calms down.
When a troubled teen is speeding down the road, sneaking out of the house, doing things with people he shouldn’t be with, saying things he shouldn’t be saying, the mother might want to scream in his face. “I RAISED YOU BETTER THAN THIS! WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?!” She might want to take away his keys, ground him from seeing his friends, and speak to him in a condescending way to ensure he knows who the boss is. The Ultimate Mother creates strong boundaries, allows the teen to explore his feelings within safe parameters, and then embraces and rocks her teen. The Divine Mother kisses her teen’s cheeks, despite him brushing her off, insisting that she’s “gross” and embarrassing him. She kisses him anyway. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be,” she lovingly reminds her teen of the bedtime classic she used to read to him when he was younger.
American women, I’m speaking to you. Our country is our child. Our country is acting out. She has been defiant, rebellious, and irresponsible. Believe me when I say I want to shake this country into submission. Believe me when I say I think I know best, and need to impose my beliefs on this country FOR THE SAKE OF THE COUNTRY, just like a mother wants to impose her opinions on her child for the SAKE OF HER CHILD. Every annoying political post I’ve made has been rooted in love and deep concern for this country I love so much.
Every mother has her less-than-perfect moments. We have all disappointed our children, our spouses, and ultimately, ourselves. I know I have. I know I’m not the perfect mom. And I’m not the perfect American, and I’ve definitely gotten out of hand on social media. It seems like every time I log on, I am overwhelmed with anxiety, fear, concern, and sadness. I have often questioned deleting my account, but this voice inside thinks maybe I can make a difference, and I need to keep my account activated to maintain a platform. 
I read some reassuring words from my friend Amber Magnolia Hill’s account:
“We aren’t meant to take in this much bad news at once. The amount of devastating, terrifying headlines flying at us every hour since the Orange Fuhrer’s inauguration is completely overwhelming. A living nightmare. If you’re feeling anxious or hopeless, please know you’re not alone. This isn’t normal, and our nervous systems did not evolve to handle this much stress-this many threats to the wellbeing of ourselves and the people we love and the planet we all exist because of-at once.”
The feeling of solidarity, camaraderie, and support is getting me through this President’s first week. I know when I’ve had a rough week parenting, I lean on my spouse, my mom and mother-in-law, and my mama friends, because they know the struggle. They know what I’m going through, they feel my pain, and they can offer support. I am not deleting Facebook, even with this tense political climate, because it is my source of support. There are many of us out there (over 70% of this country, in fact) who do not approve of Donald Trump. And living in Texas, I sometimes feel like that’s not the case in my interactions with people on the daily. 
So I will stay on here. And because of that decision, I am going to have to change the way I internalize these feelings. 
I am going to try to be the best Mother to this country I can be. I will continue to love this country, even when She is pissing me off. I will kiss Her, rock Her, and love on Her, reminding Her that I love Her. I will not threaten to move to Canada because I would never threaten to walk out on my kids. I'm not going anywhere. I'm not done Mothering yet.
I will do this through peaceful demonstrations and my voice. I felt so uplifted by my community at our Women’s Sister March. And when I see or hear people chastising my efforts, I will let it go in one ear and out the other, just like I do when my toddler is whining. I will pick my battles. Healthcare for pre-existing conditions is a battle I am ready to fight. I will not stand idly by if a Muslim Registry is formed. I will not complacently watch more innocent black lives taken by the hands of police. I will remind this country that building a wall we can't afford is hateful and financially irresponsible. I will stand and fight for respect and equality for women, because I am raising two of them. I’m invested in these issues, and I will peacefully resist policy that endangers equal rights for every single American. 
This moment will be written about in history books. I believe we will look back and thank the Mothers. The Mothers are Rising. We will love America through this rough stretch, and we will make it out alive. 
XO,
L

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Obama's Letter to His Daughters vs. Trump's Letter to American Daughters

As a mother of 2 young girls, I'd like to take the time to type out the words President Barack Obama wrote as a letter to his daughters, in the book "Of Thee I Sing," and juxtapose them to Donald Trump's actual quotes. Please try to understand why, not only as a woman, but as a mother raising strong young women, I am still horrified that this man has been elected to be the leader of our country. I cannot allow his morals or words or anybody who condones them, permeate my home or my family.


"Have I told you lately how wonderful you are? How the sound of your feet running rom afar brings dancing rhythms to my day? How you laugh and sunshine spills into the room?"
-President Obama


“It doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
—Donald Trump to Esquire in 1991 


"Have I told you that you are creative?....Have I told you that you are smart...brave? Have I told you that you are a healer? Have I told you that you have your own song? Have I told you that you are strong?" 
-President Obama


"If Hillary Clinton can't satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?" 
-Donald Trump, on his Twitter account, 4/16/15 @ 5:22 PM 


"Have I told you how important it is to honor others' sacrifices? Have I told you that you are kind? Have I told you that you don't give up? Have I told you that you are an explorer? Have I told you that you are inspiring?" 
-President Obama


"(Lindsay Lohan)'s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed. How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they're always the best in bed? You don't want to be with them for long term, but for the short term there's nothing like it."
-Donald Trump on the Howard Stern show, December 2004


"Have I told you that you are part of a family? A man named Abraham Lincoln knew that all of America should work together. He kept our nation one and promised freedom to enslaved sisters and brothers. This man of the people, simple and plain, asked more of our country-that we behave as kin. Have I told you to be proud to be American? Our first president, George Washington, believed in liberty and justice for all....Have I told you that America is made up of people of every kind? People of all races, religions, and beliefs. People from the coastlines and the mountains. People who have made bright lights shine by sharing their unique gifts and giving us the courage to lift one another up, to keep up the fight, to work and build upon all that is good in our nation." 
-President Obama

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything...Grab them by the pussy." -Donald Trump, Access Hollywood with Billy Bush, 2005

"Have I told you that they (Americans) are all a part of you? Have I told you that you are one of them, and that you are the future? And have I told you that I love you?"
-President Obama
********************************************************************
I don't know what to tell my daughters. I don't know where to go from here. This is not a difference of political persuasion. This is electing a dangerously misogynistic man in office. There are literally dozens more quotes that are equally (if not more) offensive to women. This doesn't even include the statements he's made about minorities. 
For those people who don't understand why Americans are still upset about this election, maybe this clears it up. We are downgrading, big time. Put all politics aside for just a moment. Look at President Obama: the man, the husband, the father. Look at him as the leader of this country and this world. His values. His morals. Look at what we'll have for the next four years with Trump. I will do my best to shelter my children from his words + actions. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't deeply worried. How ironic, the party that touted "family values" and claimed to be the party of Christianity, elected Trump. Never have I felt so conservative in my life. I'm worried for my daughters. I'm worried for women. I'm worried for minorities. I'm worried about America's future, and I'm grieving the loss of President Obama. 

xo,
L

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dear Daughters,

Sweet Girls,

You have been rockin' my world lately. We are definitely in a sweet spot. Lilah Grace, you're 3 1/2 years old and you have me laughing on the daily. Everleigh Rose, you're 10 months old, and your personality has really been emerging! You girls are my world. I find it difficult to get my mind off of you for more than an hour. When I'm at work, I'm constantly showing off your pictures to co-workers and patients. When Dad and I go on dates, we talk about you. Our favorite people to be with are our family members, so we can all obsess over yall. They get it. Strangers would be bored to tears.

For as long as I can remember, my greatest fear in life has been losing my people. But a close second has been losing my memories. I've had such awful short-term memory loss after Evy was born; this motivated me to document as much as I can now, to save for later.

Fortunately, we have dear friends and family members who are extraordinary professional photographers. Aunt Yana came over the other day, and served as a "fly on the wall" to document a typical afternoon so we can remember what life was like for us now. I hope when you look back on your childhood, you smile and feel warm + fuzzy like I do with mine, and like I know I will when I think back on raising yall. These truly are "the good 'ol days."

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I go to work, but on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, we spend the days together, just us girls. The weekends with dad are sacred.

A typical Monday/Wednesday/Friday starts when Everleigh cries in her crib. Either Dad or I will go get you, and bring you into our bed. I am still breastfeeding you, even though I don't think I'm making any milk anymore. We both still enjoy the snuggles, and it buys me a slower wake-up time. Hehe. Shortly after, we hear Stella's collar jingling, and Lilah Grace, you're headed straight to the pantry for your granola (("canola")) bar. You ask Dad for chocolate milk (("the sweet kind")) as if he hasn't done this before, and he gets you your milk and my coffee. The four of us snuggle in bed, and usually watch an episode of "My Little Pony." LG, your favorite is Rainbow Dash. Dad's is Twilight Sparkle. Mine is Princess Celestia. Everleigh's is, umm, my boobs.

After my coffee kicks in, I put Evy in the highchair with finger foods and make LG's lunch. We get you both dressed, and it's off to school. I drop you off in the drop-off line and you go in there like a champ. You love school. Evy naps immediately after ((usually) and I catch up on groceries/laundry/cooking/cleaning. After what seems like a couple of minutes, I go back to pick you up, and the three of us come home. Home..I absolutely love our home. I hope you both do, too. It's definitely more than just a house; this place feels like home to me, and I never want to move.









After school, we go straight to the kitchen and have snacks // Everleigh eats lunch. When my phone isn't broken, you both are begging to play with one of your apps. I usually let you, because I pick my battles. :)

Evy, you are a CHOWHOUND. I have never seen a baby eat as much as you. You eat basically everything I do, and honestly, more, just in tiny pieces. When you're fussy, I throw food at you, and that usually does the trick. Lilah Grace, you used to eat basically anything, but you've been pickier lately.

After snack, if Evy is a mess, we'll do a sink bath. Honestly, we sometimes do three sink baths a day. I just let you get totally messy feeding yourself, and then straight to the sink we go. Sometimes you hang with us, LG, and sometimes you go to your playroom and play for a bit. Sometimes I put you in your high chair and give you paints. You've been really into painting lately, and I've been really proud of your masterpieces. Your favorite game on my phone is this vet game, where you get to "fix" the animals. The game helped you overcome your fear of spiders, and taught you all about the purpose of x-rays. You love fixing the animals, and seeing them "party" after you "fix" them all. I know people have their judgments on screen time, but honestly, in moderation, I think it's fine, and you're adorable and so excited when you get to play with it!




Evy, after filling up your tummy and cleaning you off, we make our way to the nursery. I put either clothes or PJs on you ((it's never too early for pajamas)), and put you down for your afternoon nap. Lilah Grace, after I put Evy down for rest, while she's crying it out, I'll read you a book and/or tell you a story. You've been really into stories from when we were kids, or "tall tales," where we make up stories that are just pretend. You've definitely figured out how to stall. You probably actually take your afternoon nap 50% of the time, but if you aren't sleeping, you're at least quiet, and having some downtime while I have some, too.






The simultaneous afternoon nap is rare, but a treat for me. I love my time with you girls when we're reading, laughing, eating, or playing, but it's nice to turn my brain off for a little while, and have some "me" time. The first thing I always do is straighten up the house. I like the house to be tidy before I unwind. After straightening up, I'll do something for myself. I try to go inward. I'll meditate, play with Tarot cards, or journal. My favorite gratitude practice is writing thank you notes. I've also been enjoying getting a little bit of time in on my yoga mat and stretching out. Sometimes I just drink coffee in bed and watch a "grown up show" to decompress. I usually always do laundry and prep for dinner. Usually, it's not too long until one of you is awake!



Evy, your crawl is cute + funky. You pull yourself with one leg and drag the other and it looks like an army crawl. You're getting faster everyday. You're pulling yourself up and can even balance on both feet without help for a second or two! It won't be long before you're walking. You have 4 teeth completely in ((top two + bottom two)) and are currently cutting two more on top and two more on bottom for a total of 8! You're a little irritable, but we caved and got you an amber necklace, which I swear has been helping! We give you teething tablets and ice rings, too. Lilah Grace, you've been learning how to cut with scissors in school, which reminds me, I need to buy kid scissors for the house. You know all letters and numbers up to 30. You got an outstanding report card just a couple weeks ago! You are seriously a genius; I want to continue to foster your inquisitive nature ((your questions are never-ending)) + love of the human body + interest in animals. You've considered yourself to be a "mama wolf" for the past couple of months, and howl at the moon. You ask me what's inside your body at least three times a week, and we go through organs, muscles, and bones.






I usually call Dad around 5:30 and ask for his ETA. When he comes home, we feel complete. I really look forward to his arrival, because he's my best friend, and I love the energy he brings to our home. We eat dinner together around our cheap kitchen table after we each say what we're grateful for. Lately the sun has been setting earlier, and with the darkness comes the nighttime routine. Sometimes yall rock the sister bath, but if Evy had a sinkbath in the afternoon and is still clean, sometimes you fly solo, LG. I've been weaning the nighttime feedings for Evy, so I'll read her a book in the rocking chair and then put her in the crib while Dad does story and bedtime with LG. Everleigh still loves her Gentle Baby oil every night, and Lilah Grace still loves sleeping with Stella. 

My favorite part of each day is when you both are safe + sound + asleep in bed, and your dad and I can Netflix and Chill. I love yall something fierce, but he is still my favorite person.

I usually fall asleep within 30 minutes. 

******************************************************************

I've become more interested in the elements since realizing Everleigh Rose is a "Fire" sign. Once I realized this, I had an "aha moment." You two girls are so different. And I love you each so much, in such different ways! There is more than enough love to go around. I'm a sucker for personality typing, so I did a little research, and found that Lilah Grace and Dad are "Earth" + I'm "Air" which means our little family is "Earth, Wind, and Fire," hehe. This also means I'm on a quest to have more "Water" signs in our home to help cool things off a bit! 

What I've found to be consistent with both Lilah Grace and Dad, is "Earth" people tend to be grounded + practical. They thrive with a dependable routine. They are loyal and they ((unsurprisingly)) have a deep personal connection with the earth.

Everleigh, my "Fire" girl, is enthusiastic, humorous, dramatic, and fun. Much like other "Fire" people, you are a natural performer with your dancing and singing. You are always reaching for an instrument. You also easily swing from one extreme to the other, and I believe as you learn to talk, you will speak straight from the heart. You're not even a year old, but you are so passionate. 

"Air" people are curious, independent, observant, and impractical. Thankfully, I have my practical "Earth" partner to keep me in check. "Air" people are described as intellectuals always on a quest for new information. We are apparently the best storytellers ((I do love writing; but I think Dad does a better job in the "tall-tale" department at bedtime)). We often struggle with grounding ourselves and can be fickle. 

Element info paraphrased from Debra Silverman Astrology.

******************************************************************

To my sister-in-law, Yana, thank you from the bottom of my heart for capturing our daily grind. This is exactly what I want to remember. I know I'll blink and these precious girls will be grown and out of the house, and I'll want to look back and remember these moments. My favorite days are ones without plans, without a disruption to the routine, so I can totally soak up the Here and Now. You made our minutia look beautiful, and you saw my family the way I do, and that is truly a gift. Thank you for sharing your gift with me.

And to my babies... I still can't believe we made you! You're both pure magic. I hope you know my love for you is unconditional and unwavering. I absolutely love being your mom. I think Mary Oliver said it best:

“Still, what I want in my life

is to be willing

to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts



and maybe even

to float a little
above this difficult world.” 



Thank you for dazzling me by being the most authentic human beings I've ever known. When I'm with yall, I'm able to float.

xo,
Mama


Monday, September 12, 2016

Sad Relief

"She has a really big head. Does your husband have a big head? Did your first have a big head?" the pediatrician probes.
"Yes, actually, we all have big heads. I had the biggest hat measurement on drill team in high school, which is saying a lot since I'm only 5'4". My husband has a big head, and I think part of why I needed a c-section with my first was because of the size of her head." I defensively respond.
"Ok, well, she might just have a big head. We'll keep an eye on it."

I reassure myself that a big head is a sign of a big brain, and my 6 month old baby is a genius.

Photo Credit: Yana's Photos


That was a few months ago. Fast forward to Wednesday of last week, with a less than ideal colored bowel movement in my baby's diaper. I don't freak out, I don't panic. I remain calm, but I think that a black stool is a sign of internal bleeding. I place the stinky stool in a Ziploc bag, toss it in my purse, and go to the doctor's office with my 3 year old holding my hand and my 8.5 month old on my hip. I acknowledge this is a new low, lugging my child's shit around in a sandwich bag in my purse.

Tests are run, I'm reassured, it's just the beets and blueberries she's been eating. But, while we're here, I ask the pediatrician, "Quick question, does her head look normal to you? I know we said a couple months ago we'd keep an eye on it. It seems to me like the bottom of her head is bulging more so than it used to. I just want to be sure everything's fine." My concern is more of an after-thought. The professional runs her hands over her head and inquisitively looks at my baby's head from different angles.

"You know, this is more alarming to me than the concern about the poop. I think we need to get her in with a craniofacial specialist just to be sure her skull is forming properly. I'll get you a referral, go ahead and call to make the appointment today."

Surprisingly, I'm still calm. I call the specialist, and tell them my most convenient time for an appointment, which is in a few weeks, when my oldest is in school and I'm off work. I check it off my list, and go on about my day.

I am an operating room nurse, and the surgeon I work for has experience in craniofacial surgery. I nonchalantly discuss my day yesterday (with the black poop and the specialist referral) when all of my co-workers are catching up about past weekend and upcoming weekend plans. My boss asks me more questions about my baby's head. In between cases, he shows me some textbooks he has in his office about something called "scaphocephaly." He tries not to worry me, but urges me to move up my baby's appointment. I get on Google and look up "scaphocephaly" and "sagital craniosynostosis."

I now understand that my baby's brain is growing abnormally, it has been for the past 9 months and I'm WAY past due on this diagnosis, she might be brain damaged, might have congenital heart defects later in life, and most definitely will require an ear to ear incision during her upcoming neurosurgery. I call and have her appointment moved up to Monday morning. Until then, I'm waiting, and waiting makes me anxious.

It's now the weekend before our Monday appointment, and I stumble upon the #scaphocephaly on Instagram. That leads me to mom-blogs who have bravely paved the path before me. Will my blog content change now? Will I go from blogging about spirituality, feminism, motherhood, and the merge of those topics, to blogging about special needs? Reading their words, I fall apart. I realize that Everleigh definitely has this condition, and I deep down knew it all along. She was born with a bigger forehead than Lilah (I always just thought she inherited my fivehead). I hold her and caress her head and feel the prominent bulge in the back and kiss all over her, assuring her and myself that she will be loved, that we will get through this and at the end of this, we will be her supportive, strong, loving foundation. I anxiously await for George to come home so he can be the "parent" while I morph into the "person" who has stuffed her fears deep down while role-playing "Mom."

Sidenote, the "Mom Mask" sucks. The "Mom Mask" is the costume I feel I need to put on to show my kids that everything is okay. If I'm okay, they're okay. I should know better. I should know that they're still young enough to be intuitive and know I'm faking it. But I feel an obligation to be strong, even if it's fake, and then I feel self-judgment about being a fraud with my kids. Self-judgment sucks. As an additional sidenote to this sidenote, can we all agree that the world is far too judgmental, and most of us already judge ourselves enough? Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't do, don't try to change me, I ALREADY KNOW MY FLAWS, thank you very much.

George comes home, I put Everleigh in his arms, and say "I'm going to be sick." I dramatically run outside, and hyperventilate. I put my bare feet on the dirt, my arms around my legs, and my head between my knees. "Breathe" is what I tell myself. The scary visions of this upcoming surgery, the fear of the unknown, the dread of Monday when the specialist confirms my fears, all of it comes rushing in like a huge wave and I'm a weak amateur who just wanted to be in the sand. How the hell did I get in this ocean with the waves? I want to watch people surf, and feel bad for those who fall down, and encourage those who stay up, but I want to be in the sand, on a towel, with a cocktail. The parenting metaphor persists. I want to be a mom of two healthy kids. When I hear of tragic tales, scary illnesses and diseases, my heart physically aches for those parents. I feel too much as it is. This doesn't happen to me, this happens to other parents, and when it does, my heart breaks for them. I hold them in Light, I send prayers their way, I donate to their KickStarter pages. If they are close enough, I'll bring over lasagna. But I'm not the parent of the child with a condition. I'm the observer. The sympathetic observer. I'll toss out a life preserver from time to time, but I'm not the one who is drowning. I'm not the one riding the wave.

I flashback to when Lilah Grace was exactly this age and she had a 9 minute long seizure. As we awaited a diagnosis in the hospital, I was in this same purgatory. The waiting. The waiting that makes me anxious. "What chronic condition are we about to uncover?" I thought about Epilepsy, Type One Diabetes, Infantile Seizures. My mind was racing. I was scared. I was so scared. When the news came back she had the flu, and it was a one-time febrile seizure from a fever, I was beyond relieved. I just knew we wouldn't be that lucky again. I just knew it was our turn, that life is random, and we just can't keep getting lucky.

I felt as though I received the diagnosis early, and my job was to mentally + emotionally prepare for the official diagnosis Monday morning. To do that, I needed to face my fear head on. G did the girls' bedtime routine, and I filled the bathtub with Stress Away oil and Epsom salt. I turned out the lights. It was pitch black. I put on the song that I dedicated to myself from God three years ago, on repeat. I imagined a Mother God singing the words to me:

"...I will show you, you're so much better than you know. When you're lost, and you're alone, and you can't get back again, I will find you, Darlin', and I'll bring you Home....And if you want to cry, I am here to dry your eyes. And in no time, you'll be fine. You think I'd leave your side, Baby? You know Me better than that...." 

After my panic attack, bath, and crawling into bed, I told G, "Thanks for being strong for me tonight. I'll be strong Monday, and you can be the one panicking. I know we both can't panic at the same time, and I got all my panic out, so now I'll be the strong one. I am certain she has this condition, and this news will be hard to hear, and I'd like to you to be there when it comes out of his mouth." He took a half day off work, and we met at the specialist's office in Dallas.

Fast forward to today. This morning.

In the waiting room, I was surprisingly calm. I really did get most of my fear out the couple nights before. I went to the restroom, and before I came back in, I stared at the doctor's name and credentials outside the door. I wondered how many times we would be coming back here. How many follow-ups, how many check-ups.

I envisioned our oldest being a big sister to a little sister with special needs. She's already such a nurturer; she refers to herself as the "Mama Wolf" and to Evy as her "cublet." Yes, Lilah will be great at this. Her role will be protective and caring, and she will excel at that. George will be great, too. He has Type One diabetes, so he knows what it's like to live life with a condition that requires extra effort. He will be a great resource for our daughter. How will I be?

I thought about my life as a story, and myself as the protagonist. If I were reading a book about this, I would appreciate the mother in this story to be solid. Rock solid. Strong. Loving. Unwavering. Loyal. I would be all of those things. Everleigh wouldn't even know she was "different" until somebody one day in the real world brought it to her attention, and when they did, I would cut them up into pieces and end them. Obviously. I could do this.

Then, I realized, I was making this about me. ALL of this, I was making about me. I was the protagonist? No. She is the protagonist. I'm a supporting role. My role is not the main character in this journey; she is the lead. This is her journey, I believe she chose to live this life, and I was merely the vessel to bring her to this plane. My role wouldn't be anything other than loving and supporting her; taking her to necessary appointments, and finding the most qualified professionals to help her with her journey. Supporting role. I found this oddly comforting. I could do this.

"Everleigh?" the doctor called us from the waiting room before we were done with the paperwork. Why was the doctor pulling us back, and not a nurse? He introduced us to two visiting surgeons from two different countries and asked if they could join us. Deep breath. "Of course!" I reply with a smile. Strong. Confident. Loving. I am in the supportive, yet strong and loving, role now.

Thankfully, he doesn't beat around the bush. He doesn't waste much time. He tells us we won't be needing his help; that she definitely does not have scaphocephaly. He knows because "X,Y, and Z." I wish I could remember those reasons, but after I heard the good news, I tuned out. I was crying. I was relieved. My fears that I'd completely convinced myself were absolutely true, were not. I had been that annoying, high-strung mom who spent too much time online, and worked herself up.  We walked out of the office, with big smiles on our faces. The lady taking our co-payment smiled and told us, "I'm happy for your good news."

In the elevator on our way out of the building, we both cried. But this time, not out of relief. We were crying for the parents who do not receive the "good news." For the parents who are forced to be strong in the face of danger, fear, and the unknown. Why??? How did we get so lucky again? And why do those other parents not have the same luck? Isn't it all just luck? This Universe is so random. I don't believe we are "blessed," or that God spared us. How insensitive of a belief, because that insinuates that those who get bad news are handed it by God, that they some how deserve it. What?? No. That doesn't feel right. After feeling the deep sadness, fear, and panic for days, knowing there is not a "relief" for some, just an adjustment to the "new normal" is painful. I feel guilty for receiving good news. I feel spared, fortunate, lucky, and grateful, but if I were in the other position, I know I'd resent the parent who received good news a little bit. It's just not fair.

We went to get coffee in a little cafe in a garden after the appointment to decompress. G left to return to work, and Evy and I stayed back and visited with our waitress for a long time. I told her a super brief version of this story; that we had an appointment with a specialist today, and were very scared prior, but received excellent news. We were celebrating, but I felt a little guilty, because I know how many people don't receive the good news. She then told me how her sister lost her 2 1/2 year old to an uncommon brain condition diagnosed at birth, and how they set up a non-profit organization that distributes medical products to people in need. I silently felt the tears fall down my cheeks. She told me not to cry, that she would start crying, and then, alone in this cafe, we both found ourselves bonding and loving and living. Her sister was exactly the person I was talking about. The warrior who receives bad news, and rather than getting a relief, has to learn to adjust to a new normal.

It was during this exchange I felt a renewed sense of something Higher and Bigger than me. I've been dabbling in doubt + cynicism with my spirituality lately. My connection with our waitress drew me in closer to The One. I took my time leaving the cafe, taking in the art on the walls, and the plants in the nursery. I buckled our baby safely in my car, and drove to pick up my oldest from school. I listened to my audiobook on the commute. Life was back to normal.

Life isn't fair. Life is hard, and it's filled with good news and bad news, and we don't know when we will be on the receiving end of either of those. What I'm learning is to be prepared for the bad news, to rejoice with the good, and to realize that at any moment, it could change. Nothing is promised, nothing is guaranteed, and it is absolutely terrifying to let that sink in. I think the waiting period, the time of not knowing, is awful. The mind races for something to hold on to, and it self-judges. Assuming the worst is giving up hope, and negative. Assuming the best is naive and aloof. There is no "right" way to wait for news. This is a universal truth applicable to far more than child-rearing.

I'm learning, and loving, and sometimes I'm really strong, and sometimes I'm scared shitless. Well, except for the questionable one in the Ziploc bag in my purse.

xo,
L


Saturday, July 9, 2016

Why I Love Al

I met Albert Berman through my husband and his family. I met Al sometime in 2005-2006, when I was about 18 years old.

Al and my father-in-law worked together. Al even lived with my in-laws for a portion of George’s childhood. I recall a few stories I’ve heard from those days, including my mother-in-law encouraging Al to “stretch” (in reference to changing a diaper), and my husband endearingly saying, “I lub you, Owl.”

Of course little George loved “Owl.” Loving Al is easy. He is generous. He is hilarious. He is passionate. He is so, so thoughtful! 


Though I don’t remember the first time I met Al, I have a feeling it revolved around a car repair. Al is a self-taught doctor for cars. I can honestly say I don’t know anybody as determined as Al. If he doesn’t know how to fix something, he will camp out at the Dallas Public Library, eBay, and even online car mechanic chatrooms to figure it out. 

I went north out of my Texas bubble to the University of Oklahoma for college. George and I were a 2.5 hour long distance couple for that period of time. Reliable transportation was key for our relationship. Unfortunately, George’s car had countless problems. Al helped fix every one. And, when I bought my first car (shortly after landing my first “big girl job” out of college), I chose a used BMW, which was beautiful and fun to drive, and totally dependable because of all the free maintenance Al poured into it. I literally never had to pay the exorbitant prices the dealer charges because I could depend on good ‘ol Al to come through. Usually, I would get special treatment, and he would return it detailed and looking brand new, even after it was 10 years old.


Al’s handiwork is not limited to cars, and not limited to me. He helped us install beautiful French doors in our first home, he has helped my in-laws with various home + car projects, and I know he has even helped his ex-wife around her home with necessary maintenance and repairs. 

Anytime Al works on anything of mine, he explains in detail what he is doing, and truth-be-told, I typically tune him out. That sounds really rude, but let me explain. 


First of all, I have zero desire to learn, secondly, the subject material is always over my head, and finally (and most importantly), I trust Al to complete the job better than anybody else, eventually. I have absolute faith that no obstacle will ever hold him back from a beautiful completion of a project, because I have seen him overcome every single problem, every single time. So when he is explaining the reason a circuit is shorting, or an angle isn't just right, I nod and smile, and then ask him to stick around for dinner. I make him a hot plate, and he tells me how delicious it is, and I tell him how grateful I am for his help. This is our dance. 

Al is not only generous with his time, he is also generous with his money. He SPOILS my daughters! And I love it! Lilah Grace and I go to Target multiple times a week, and every time, I allow her to look at and hold the toys, and every time she has to put them back. When she goes to Target with “Fantasy GrandDad,” (he named himself this so he doesn’t have to follow our parenting rules) she gets to take home the toys. He doesn’t even look at the price tag. Last time we went to Target together, he also got me a Target gift card. I told him, “No, I can’t accept this, you’re already too generous,” and the cashier told me, “Let him do this. I wish I had my dad so I could let him do it. He wants to.” She was choked up, and I’m pretty sure Al was, too. I felt like she was an angel reminding us to give and receive love while we have one another on this planet. Al and I talked about how it was a spiritually moving experience, and I’m so grateful we had that moment together.


I didn’t know a person could be generous in so many different ways until I knew Al. He is generous with his time and money, but also with his compliments and support. Anybody who has a Facebook knows this to be true. Albert Berman has NO PROBLEM DOTING ON A PURDY, PURDY WOMAN WITH A WOWEE-KEE-FLOWEE and a HOLY BAZOLY to make her feel good about herself. Or, if I make a controversial political post, while I can count on many people to “unfollow” me, and a few people to banter with me, I can always count on Albert Berman to remind me HOW MANY FRIENDS I HAVE and HOW SMART I am. We laugh about Al’s ALL CAPS but the truth is, I couldn’t feel more supported or more loved. And honestly, when I’m 80, if I can keep up with the technology as well as he has, I will be damn proud of myself. I think my favorite Facebook post Al has made was of a black and white Gina Lollobrigida, tagging my mom, telling her Gina Lollobrigida would have been jealous of her.


Everyone who knows Al knows he has a love for jazz music. He introduced me to Sarah Vaughn, and when he played a song for me (probably 5 years ago or so), I teared up at the lyrics. He knew I would! Sarah Vaughn started singing in her sultry voice, "In this world of ordinary people, and extraordinary people, I'm glad there is you." For our first dance at our wedding, George and I chose to dance to this song as an ode to Al. I'll always think of Al when I hear old jazz music, or see old black and white photos of New York. Al just got back from visiting his daughter and grandson in NYC, and he scooped me up a bag and scarf from the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art. So thoughtful. So New York. So Al.

I love Albert Berman. I have such a warm spot in my heart for him. He has shown me so much love, support, and generosity over the past 11 or so years that I’ve been fortunate enough to know him. When I look at Al, I always forget his age. He turned 80 this month. EIGHTY YEARS OLD. What?! I feel like I need to double check that again, and I must be wrong. He has never looked better. What other 80 year old do you know who is so forward thinking and so open to learning from the younger generations? He has such a zest and passion for life. He is the perfect blend of old school masculine + hip progressivism. I know his children and grandchildren make his world go ‘round. He brags on them all the time! And I know Al and I aren’t related by blood, but when I think of my family and when I refer to “the village,” Al is definitely part of it. He has showered me and my family with love, and I just hope to do the same now for him. 



I lub you, Owl. Happy 80th birthday. 

xo,

L
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