Yes, I am that woman. I knit. I sew. I cook. I bake. I can. I make jam. I let my boys rolls around in blue chalk. I repaint old furniture. I recover secondhand chairs with funky fabric. I make throw pillows from old flour sacks. I have mastered the art of couponing. I make my own vanilla. I make a fish taco that makes grown men weep with joy. I make my own bread.
I've never been too good at keeping friends for long periods of time.
Maybe it has something to do with moving around all the time when I was young. Maybe it has something to do with moving around all the time now that I am older. Maybe it is because my brothers tormented me by warping my nickname "Baby" into "Bay-bah." Maybe it was because I was fed far too much powdered milk while living on Guam.
Who knows why, but what I do know is that I could probably drop some serious ka-ching at a therapi$t uncovering the many reasons.
At any rate, in no particular order, here are three peeps I didn't mean to drift away from. My intention is that after I am done with this PhD, I can spend some more time reconnecting with them in more meaningful ways than over Facebook or the occasional emails.
We were really great friends in Junior High School.
Then in high school...well, high school happened. She's grew up to be an amazing woman with an amazing heart which isn't surprising since she was an amazing 13-year old with an amazing heart. (And she married an island boy so she has to be really cool, too).
She was a big part of my life during some pivotal moments back when I was still trying to figure out who I was and where I was headed. We started drifting away from each other in the mid-nineties for some reason. Who knows why. All I know is that I am very glad we reconnected. She's still just as fabulous as she was 18 years ago. And I bet she can still cook up some pretty awesome Mexican food.
You know how there are people in your life that just seem to weave seamlessly into who you are and what you are doing, regardless of what paths either of you have been traveling down?
That is this courageous warrior woman.
We first met in grad school while we were working on our MS degrees in Instructional Technology.
We really connected around graduation and were close for quite some time.
We became personal fitness trainers together.
We both became T-Tapp certified trainers.
Then my PhD happened.
In the last five years, I feel like I have lost contact with everyone, including myself. I have high hopes for this next year as I recuperate and reconnect with my old friends and my old self. Hopefully they will all take me back.
This is a post about nothing. I simply did not want the picture of ^that man^ as close to the pictures of my beautiful children as they were. After all, it is my job as their parent to protect them from people like him, to be a buffer between them and CrAZee.
So I am putting this post in here, simply to take up space and give them all a little bit of distance. Silly me, I know.
When I dream of escape, I dream of drifting dunes and a big yellow moon hanging over the Atlantic. I dream of warm moist sea air seeping into me and loosening me in places I didn't know were tight. I want to move there and stay forever and ever and ever amen. I would even put up with the hurricanes to be able to claim the Outer Banks as home.
One pesky problem: No family lives there. Well, at least no immediate family.
I recently discovered my deep-seated affinity for the Outer Banks and this area of the country is organic. Turns out my peeps were some of the earliest Virginians, as in settled Jamestown in 1608, had children on Isle of Wight in the 1620's, established Elizabeth City and kept spreading down into North Carolina, ending up in Wilmington. It wasn't just one or two ancestral lines either, but multiple lines of people that settled in this area in the early 1600's. My grandmother Mollie was the first in my family to move away - she moved out west and so that is where my mom is "from." That's where I have always claimed to be "from."
Turns out that is not the whole story. While I will always love the Rocky Mountains and count myself a daughter of the high desert, there is something about the Tidewater/Outer Banks area that speaks to me deep down in the sinews of my psyche.
When I visit the OBX, I experience a cellular level recognition and I can feel my soul revive a bit more with every hour I am there. I would like to be able to stake my claim and say, "This is where I am from." I know it certainly feels like home.
I guess in a way, I can say this is where I am from. Turns out I have all kinds of extended family from Richmond to Wilmington and I am about as Southern as southerners get with a patriot's pedigree that stretches back four centuries, thanks to Grandma Mollie.
Glad that week is over. I don't think I have cried that much for so many different reasons since I was like, 13 years old. Seriously.
I have 12 days to get my dissertation turned in to my committee. Still one more chapter to write. One other to rewrite. Then put it all together and fix the !@#$$ citations that Zotero is giving me grief over. Mr. Amazing Man is gone all this week (starting at 2:00 p.m. this lovely Sunday afternoon) so I get to do this last full week of dissertation stuff as a sort-of-single parent. *sigh*
But, hey. Things could be a lot worse. I won't even list the myriad of reasons why or how they could be worse for fear of bringing them about. Just a hat tip that things could be worse and then move right along.
I painted my nails on Thursday. Wednesday? I don't remember what day. All I know is the next morning as I was putting Penelope in the car seat, I noticed my nails are the exact same shade as my car. Errr...minivan.
I suppose knowing the color of my van is "Shiny Dancer" by OPI should make me feel slightly better about driving a minivan. It did for a moment. Then I realized my nails were Honda minivan metallic gray.
Something you hope to never have to do in your life.
Forgive the hair and the eyebrows in that picture of me from April, 1992. I have no excuse for either of them. And the shirt button up to my neck? What's that all about?
I have avoided this day for a long time because I haven't known how to write about this topic.
Most people have responded to this theme with, "Lose a child." I would say the same thing, except it has already happened.
You see, in that picture there, I am seven months pregnant with my first daughter. I had her in June 1992 and parented her for nine deliciously happy months. Unfortunately, I allowed my culture and my religion to convince me I was not a good parent simply because I was single and that she deserved more than me. So, in spite of my better judgment and because I trusted people I have since learned I should not have trusted, I relinquished her for adoption.
Yes, she is with a good family. They have loved her well and taught her well. For that I am grateful, especially since that outcome could have been far, far worse.
But I still lost her.
She is still just as gone as if I had buried her that blustery March evening exactly 18 years ago today. My arms are just as empty and my heart just as sad as any mother who has lost a child to death.
However, instead of condolences and gentle caring treatment by my culture, I get blame and shame heaped on me that I chose this, that I should be happy about it, and that frankly, I deserve this pain. There are some who say I should be proud because I made such a courageous, unselfish choice and that I should be grateful to have been relieved of the "burden" of parenting on my own.
Make no mistake about it. I was not courageous. I cowed to the cultural belief that a single parent = a bad parent. I was not unselfish - I chose my church leaders' good opinion of me over my daughter. I was not relieved to no longer be parenting my precious daughter. My daughter was never a burden to me. Quite the opposite. There is not one single thing I regret about how I parented her during the eight months and twenty-nine days she was with me. Nothing.
I am not proud, not in the slightest. I am not grateful.
I have spent every day over the past 18 years wanting to undo what I did by relinquishing her for adoption, wishing I had had the courage to be selfish on behalf of my daughter. I wish I could have had the courage to tell every single one of those people I am enough.
But what's done is done - it is what it is. She deserved a mother that would fight to the death for her, that would move heaven and earth to be with her.
Most people who know me now didn't know me back then and back then I was...how do I say this? I was into the fashion and beauty scene. So much so that I dropped out of high school and went to beauty school.
No, seriously. Stop laughing. I really did. Well, I didn't exactly drop out of high school to go to beauty school, but eventually I did go to beauty school after I had dropped out of high school. Are you thoroughly confused now? So am I. Or at least I was back then. But I didn't really know how confused I was back then but I know it now.
At any rate, I have long adored all things related to being a girl - the hair, the makeup, the nails, the skirts, the ribbons, the perfume. You get the picture. However after my first son came along, that girl took a long vacation. Then along came another boy. Between two boys and flitting around the world of academia, I thought that girl was gone forever.
I am happy to report that with the arrival of Princess Penelope, the girl I once knew is making a comeback. I had no idea I had missed her (or her love of flamboyant nail color) so much. Next up: Cutting 12" from the hair but that will have to wait until after the dissertation is finished.
P.S. I graduated from beauty school. In fact, it was there that I decided my mind was a terrible thing to waste and within two months of graduating, I had enrolled at the local community college and the rest, as they say, is history.
(This dissertation avoidance moment brought to you by "It's Bouquet With Me" by OPI.)
I require my son to earn money and then save some of it for his mission and college. He already has a sizable chunk saved (for a 14-year old). However, he has been slacking off on his savings these last two months. Right now, he needs to be saving $64 a month to meet the long term goal.
The other night, we talked about his savings-slacking behavior. We agreed that to continue having cell phone/DSI/Wii privileges, he needed to come up with a plan to earn that amount, based on the list of "Money Jobs" we have posted on the refrigerator. (Yes, I am that Mom - I don't just hand the kids money, even though we might have it. They have to earn it. Cruel, cruel, cruel mommy.)
He came up with what I think is a brilliant plan. Do all the windows weekly. Change all the sheets on the beds in the house every week (and launder the dirty ones). Sweep the front porch and deck every week. And here's the best one: Make bread.*
Yes, that bread in the picture above - that is his handiwork.
I cannot tell you how proud I am of this kid.
_______________________________________________________________________ *These are in addition to his normal "Because you live here and I am not your maid" chores like keeping his room clean, doing all of his own laundry, keeping his bathroom "Mom clean" (as opposed to "Dad clean"), garbage duty, making dinner weekly, clearing the table. etc.
I am 28 days away from turning in my dissertation, whether I think it is ready or not. I have looming deadlines I have to meet (40% of my committee is retiring at the end of the semester) and so I have little time for anything else other than writing, thinking, nursing Princess P., and trying to (barely) keep up with the housework too. Gotta love being in a traditional marriage whilst raising three children and trying to write a dissertation too.
I haven't forgotten about my 30 days of truth telling, I am just doing them on my own time. This next one is all about something I hope I never have to do and I am not sure what to write since it has already happened. I am just not too keen to write about it here in my happy place, thankyouverymuch. I have other places to do that kind of writing. So until I screw up my courage, I will just let it be.
Plus my daily word allotment is all used up writing my dissertation.
A nifty trick I have discovered is if I paint my nails then put a few nail color drying drops by OPI on them, I can get to typing fairly quickly with no mooshes or dings to the nail color.
Just a little bit of dissertation avoidance behavior. Not much. Just a bit.
At least that's what I keep telling myself.
(Today's post brought to you by Maybelline's Timely Turquoise).