Thursday, October 10, 2013

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

A couple weeks ago I finished reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and it is one of those books that when you finish the last word and set it down next to you the weight of it doesn’t go away. And as you go about your life it settles somewhere deep inside of you, keeping hold and becoming somehow a part of the inner workings of who you are from then on. This is what the best books do to us, and by us I mean those who count their best friends among both the living and the imagined characters that share our history with us. Those of us that create alternate universes that are populated by the people we love whose voices we only know in black and white.

When I think about my childhood, I think of Francie Nolan. I picture her reading on her fire escape and I picture myself somehow next to her there in the dappled afternoon light and I feel the warmth of that memory like it is one I actually experienced. In college it was Tim Hazard and Sylvia Plath and Rainer Maria Rilke. Their stories, so much wrapped up in my own, that it's almost impossible to fully explain myself without giving them mention.

Now that I am a mother I find I have so much less emotional energy and space for books that mean so much, for characters whose presence are so lasting. I reach for books and even movies that I don't have to think about once they are over.  I am thankful though, that Extremely Loud is one that I made an exception for.  The main character, Oskar, loses is dad in the twin towers on September 11th. The book deals with the aftermath of that moment and how the family chooses to mourn each in their individual ways.

Experiencing that kind of unimaginable pain through the eyes of a young child makes me think of my own little boys, their bright smiles and shining perfect eyes looking down at me from the picture on my mantle. The little boys that are sleeping peacefully right now at my parents house, completely unaware of what sadness is, of what pain and loss feels like. I want to drive across town and pull them from their beds into my arms, feel the sweaty warmth of their bodies through their footie pajamas.  I want to wrap them up so tightly that they will never leave my arms and never grow up to know what we as adults know all too well, that people leave you without warning. I can't begin to explain how much I want to protect them from ever knowing that pain.

Tonight I mourn how deeply we are made to love our children, how painful it is to have such a love in your heart in such an imperfect world. That I can not protect them from whatever might happen in their future that will cause them sorrow. That one day they will be adults and the transparency and innocence in which they love me will be gone, and walls will be placed between us that my love will now be able to scale. And I mourn that my parents must love me that way, now, and I can’t become the child again that they probably want me to be, to love them in the way they want me to love them, ever again.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Every night it is the same. After teeth are brushed and good night kisses are doled out to the rest of the family, Graham and I sneak down to his room for our time. I turn his sound machine on and quietly whisper “lay on mama,” and he gladly complies and lays his head pressed into the crook of my neck, the place it seems, like many parts of my body, that has been created for his particular needs. I feel his steady, slowly deepening breath tickling my skin and the tiny movements of his hand on my back, somehow saying through his skin that he needs this time just as much as I do.

I know, because I’ve done this whole thing before, that I won’t know when it will be the last time we do this little dance. That one day he will wiggle from my arms and crawl into his bed by himself, and that will be that. So this time around I hold on as tightly as I can, and  I slow down time all around me and let the things waiting for me to do upstairs, wait. I know he is my last baby, the last one who will press his body against mine as he slowly gives in to sleep. It is a blessing to know that when your children are babies each moment is fleeting. It means you get to enjoy them more readily, cherish them more deeply, and take the time to remember the little details that make the memories that will one day make up the whole of your life.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Post About Underwear

As I go about my days in this insanity I call my life with two little boys under three I often think random things and have absolutely no one to tell. For some reason my little men don’t like it when I talk about anything besides trucks, cars, or that isn’t some kind of sound effect (weird). When I am having these conversations with myself sometimes I think, “maybe I’ll update my Facebook status with that little tidbit,” and then I realize no one cares about the thoughts I am having while folding underwear (and by folding underwear I mean balling it up and making sure it ends up in the right drawer. But folding makes me sound so much more domestic.) The good news is I just now realized that I have a blog that I don’t think anyone reads and if you do you specifically come here to hear what I have to say.  So without further ado here is my much anticipated list of underwear folding (*cough* bunching *cough*) thoughts.

1.The minute I put lotion on my hands someone will poop so I will have to wash them again which will make the lotion application a complete waste of time.

2.There is no such thing as “done with the laundry.” There is “doing laundry” and there is “not doing laundry, i.e. your house is gradually and rapidly being overcome with laundry.”

3. If you vacuum, someone is going to spill there entire meal on the floor.

4. If you buy a new rug, someone is going to vomit on it almost immediately

5. The percentage chance of your children napping is equal to the amount which you need said nap     time to recover your sanity. I think this is a real equation, look it up.

6. If you suddenly get the inspiration to go to the gym regularly it is fact that everyone will take turns getting sick in your home for the next month, preventing you from taking the children to the childcare room. Unless you are the kind of mom that pretends your kids aren’t sick so when you take them to the gym and they throw up on all the toys you can say “that’s so weird, he was completely fine this morning,” I’m looking at you, lady at my gym who did that one time and didn’t fool anyone.

7. You will have a day when you are exhausted and emotionally drained and pray your kids go to sleep early. And then they do and an hour later you will find yourself sitting there going through pictures of them on your phone.

8. Some days, you just need to go to the gym and then sit on your butt and eat two huge cookies and not feel even a little bit bad about it.

9. I’m pretty sure that before the fall dogs didn’t shed.

Were you expecting something a little more profound in that list? Sorry, I don’t have the energy for profound. But apparently I do spend a lot of time thinking about food, how easily everything gets dirty, and laundry. Your welcome, world. If your really lucky there might just be a part two in your future. So now you have something else to look forward to besides season 3 of Downton Abbey.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Beautiful Life

The sun is filtering through the trees as it makes its quiet ascent to its place in the morning sky. The air is cool and still and the birds are calling to each other from all around me as I write. And a sun-faded red car with its one wobbly wheel sits abandoned next to me on the deck where it was forgotten about for some other toy yesterday.

When I was younger I always wanted to be surrounded by beautiful things. I would only listen to certain music or read certain books, and refused to let anything in my home or on my body that I felt didn't measure up to the image I was trying to present. If you would have told 22-year-old me that I would have cheap looking plastic toys in my house for my children I would have thought you were crazy. And that you just didn't get me.

In the last few years I have felt this very present tension within myself between that old desire and the realities of the life I lead now. I used to spend hours online scouring the internet for the latest indie band and read forums and obscure websites trying to find beautiful music, which I would listen to locked in my room while reading along with the CD liner and maybe crying (just a little). These days I listen to whatever is right in front of me, sometimes a CD (yep I still use those crazy old-fashioned things) and sometimes (22-year-old self please cover your ears) a good song on the radio. I used to sit beneath the tress and watch the clouds move and change above them as I pondered God and life and love and all its mysteries and lately I spend my time on such philosophical questions as, "what should I make for dinner that my 2 year old will actually eat," and "is that poop or chocolate, please tell me that's chocolate."

I'm starting to realize this tension I feel doesn't have to exist. That the addition of the faded plastic toy car in the picture of my idyllic morning doesn't ruin the frame, it only adds to it. That is the car that my children push each other around in, their squeals of laughter filling up the backyard as they tumble out of it. That is the car they push around with their chubby little feet. And it is also the car they use to bring me treasures like pretend ice cream cones and hot dogs that they present with chubby dirt-stained hands and expectant faces. I can't imagine anything more beautiful, more perfect, than the happiness of my children. I can't picture something I could buy, or wear, or hear that would bring my more joy than their joy. And I don't care if it is ugly toys or really crappy music (didn't I mention Everett's favorite song is a Selena Gomez number?). What is better, beautiful things or a beautiful life?

To reconcile my desire to find the beauty in this world and the realization that there is beauty in so many more things than my 22-year-old self dared realize might be the greatest gift that my 30's has to offer.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


(I wrote this in November and kept changing my mind about posting it. But the truth is this is more me than probably any other post I will or would write, and I want this space to be documentation of who I really am and what was really going on at this time in our lives. Also, if people don't want to read it they don't have to. Which is totally obvious, but sometimes I forget that.)

There is nothing sadder than thinking you see someone you know across the room and realizing it can’t be them (it can’t be them) because they are dead. This time of year brings ghosts into our lives that for the rest of the year stay silent. I’m not talking about real ghosts, but the people in our lives that we lost and the way they still exist for us, somewhere in our brain or our hearts, maybe a little of both.

I am thirty years old and my heart is filled to the brim with ghosts.

Yesterday I was walking through the grocery store and thought I saw an old co-worker. Not the kind of old co-worker that you see and that you hope you don’t see you because you didn’t have that much to talk about when you saw each other everyday, so you dread the awkward conversation of two people who no longer have even geography in common. No, I’m talking about the coworker that made me laugh, that kept me sane. The one who tried to give me sage advice because, at ten years my senior, he looked at me as a little sister or daughter, depending on the day. The one (of only two) I invited to my wedding. But I didn’t see him because he is lost to me, ever since I got a phone call from his number years after we worked together. When I picked it up and greeted the caller with “Hey stranger!” and it was just that. His sweet wife who I didn’t know at all, calling to tell me that he would be someone I thought I would see in the grocery store, years later, but would not.

Last night as I was trying to go to sleep I kept thinking about my Noni’s date cookies. They were the most un-kid friendly cookie ever invented. Something your Noni from Italy would make instead of your Grandma from California. Yet every time I would spend the night at her house there would be a frozen roll of those cookies waiting to be thawed out, sliced, and baked just for me. I laid there, last night, thinking I would do just about anything to see her veiny, weathered fingers slicing her knife through that hard frozen roll of cookie dough. But she is gone as well, and with her, the smells of her kitchen and the feeling of her small, bony body underneath my own as we rocked in her pink easy chair. There is something different about the way you see people that you didn’t get to have around into adulthood, innocence and selfishness blurring the edges of your memories. All they can be is what they were to you because it is almost impossible for a child to see past that. How tragic that such a long life has been whittled down to cookies and rocking chairs in my mind. A woman who lived through more war years than not, more hard times than good, that spoke a language I did not understand into her kitchen phone to people that were and still are a mystery to me.

My dad died when I was nineteen. I write that sentence easily, the easiest seven words I could ever type, because I live that sentence. Every big moment in my life, every sad day, every time my boy does something to make someone else laugh, there is the marked and tangible absence of him. He is a myth I will tell my children someday, a part of myself that those closest to me will never know. A person that I don’t even really know, another victim of a life oversimplified by those who remember him. I don’t even have the mundane details of daily life to keep him tethered to reality for me, having not lived with him since I was a baby. All I have is the stories people tell me of him and the memories I try to hold onto like paper floating away in the wind.

The first boy I ever loved died when I was twenty, before I was old enough to realize what real love felt like, and that what I felt for him was not it. The first time I saw him we were fifteen and he was walking past me in the hallway of my high school and it was like I was living in a Taylor Swift song, everything was in slow motion. Years later I would feel like I knew him better than anyone in the world, and even more years later I would realize I didn’t know him at all, and that maybe no one really knew him. He was the kind of person that was born to be a legend, someone that had a way of existing for each person that loved him exactly how they saw him in their mind. I am not happy he is gone because I know there are people whose lives go on with the marked absence of him. But I am glad that the person he exists as in my mind can never be ruined by the imperfection of a flawed reality.

The ghosts that we know remind us of who we are, our truest selves, because they are a part of that person. They aren’t just stories we tell or people we knew, they are wrapped up in who we are for having known them.  That is how lost loved ones go on existing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Graham is One

On Saturday we celebrated my last baby's first birthday. I know he is my last because when I imagine a world in which I get pregnant again I instantly get a stomachache and try to thing of who I could give the child I'm pretty sure we are done.

I can not believe that Graham is one already. I scooped my last scoop of formula the other day and then I cried. I got an email from about "my toddler this week" instead of "my baby this week" and I cried. I can't say that I'm not a little bit excited to be moving out of the baby stage but knowing that these last fleeting moments of chubby baby legs and sweet baby snuggles truly are the last, I can't help but mourn a bit. However, since I got pregnant with Graham when Everett was only 8 months old I have had an extra long run of non stop baby, so I would like to think that I really got the most bang for my buck of the baby years.

Graham entered into his first birthday with four teeth and one more on the way. He is the toughest little baby you will ever meet and when he is playing with Everett and they bonk heads or both fall down, he usually laughs and Ev usually cries. He is literally the hungriest baby in the universe and would eat non-stop all day if he had the opportunity. Everett is going through a picky phase and is hardly eating anything so Graham usually finishes up all of his leftovers. You only know he is done eating when he smears his food into his hair, which is adorable but also means he is never clean, ever. He is quite opinionated, well I'll just say it, demanding. He always wants to be held by his mama and always wants to be wherever the action is. He reaches out his little arms and screams at whatever he wants until he gets it. His brother didn't do this so I have a feeling Graham will be the assertive one.

For his party this year we wanted (let's be honest, I wanted) it have a cute little tee pee and cool Indian headbands, and he got both. It's always funny spending so much time on a party for someone who could care less, but event planning is kind of my love language so hopefully my boys learn to love a good theme.