Loaded Question

Loaded Question

“Where are you from?”

Usually, a simple, straightforward question innocently asked by someone trying to get to know you. Unless you are a military child, and then it’s a loaded, complicated question. In the past, I’ve answered “nowhere” or “everywhere” and then patiently explained that I was an Army Brat. We moved around a lot yada yada yada. That eventually got too tiresome so I usually just say Tennessee. Because out of all the places I’ve lived, Tennessee has been the one place I lived the longest. But I never felt like I belonged there, always felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. Just didn’t fit. When I moved away to Oregon, I felt, and still feel, more at home than any place I have ever lived. It’s okay to be weird and quirky and whatever you are here. The beauty is astounding, no matter how many times you see it. I feel the history of my family here, remember childhoods filled with love and wonder. But still a part of me is connected to Tennessee. I tell people I’m from there. That I grew up there because really, I did. I graduated high school and college there. My biggest and hardest life lessons were learned in the backwoods of that state. Some of my lowest and highest of times were spent under the kudzo and hickory trees.  So many good memories have sunk into the clay, but all the awful things I went through after Baby Bee was born have overshadowed the life before. All the fear and threats and insecurity still haunt me. I get physically ill every time I have to come here to bring my son home. I plan my flights so I spend as less time as possible in the town I’ve grown to dread. I have family here. I have friends and acquaintances and beloved professors still here that I’d love to see. But my anxiety and my confusion and the out right FEAR I have associated with this place prevent me from enjoying my visits. Sometimes I just fork out money and stay in a hotel in Nashville in order to avoid the feels. 

Today I landed a little after four in the afternoon and had my brother pick me up. As we were driving down I-24 I was struck by the beauty of a Southern spring. It’s different than the rugged, awe-inspiring spectacle that is the Northwest. Oregon’s air is sharp and pure, the trees a jagged deep green you can feel in your bones. The mountains and river are so drastic they slap you in the face. Tennessee’s beauty is gentle…rolling like the hills and slow like the old rivers. The green of the trees is soft, the air is soft & heavy. The beauty whispers to you and runs its fingers through your hair. I forgot that this state could be a sweet, gentle friend. It was a dictator to me for so long, I forgot how to love it. Today I’m remembering how. I sat on the banks of a (non-snow melt) river and drank my favorite peach wine from a local winery while laughing with my little brother about crazy shit we did growing up. I heard my father in his words, and our mother in my voice. I longed for my son and boyfriend to share this homecoming with me. For once I didn’t feel like running away. I wanted to feel the embrace of Tennessee again, to be flooded by good memories instead of bad ones. I still haven’t been back to our old house, or anywhere near it. I probably never will make it back. There are some things better left buried deep in the ground. This town has changed so much I barely recognize it, and that’s okay. It makes it less painful that way I think. I can pretend I’m in a foreign city and not one painfully familiar.

I’m ready to go home now. Home to Oregon where I’ve made a life for myself untainted by lies and manipulation with a man who would never dream of saying or doing things to me that were done to me before. A man who treats me and Baby Bee like people and not pawns to play in his game. Home to the life I’ve carefully and exhaustedly built to protect us and set my son up for a good life. Home to Oregon. To the sharp piney air and hypothermic rivers. To the slow left-lane drivers and silly hippies. Where I belong. And though I’ll be relieved when our plane takes off and points west tomorrow, I will leave a piece of my heart in the red Tennessee clay. Because no matter how hard I ignore it, or deny, or pretend it’s not there, this place will always be in my soul. I’m at once a southern girl and a northwest hippie and I can’t change that. So when people ask me where I’m from, I will probably continue to answer “Tennessee.” Or maybe I’ll revert back to my fail safe “everywhere.”

Heart Less

Heart Less

My boy is 2,000 miles away with a person I don’t trust. Every instinct in my body is screaming “WRONG! THIS IS ALL WRONG!” But it’s a court order. I have no choice. I trudge through two weeks every couple of months like I’m dead. I am not myself when he’s gone. I feel like a shell of a person…I do what I need to do but it’s like autopilot. My heart is gone, my soul in hibernation. The world stops until I get that fuzz head back in my arms after 14 days of agony. We try to keep busy and do fun couple things, but it’s always tainted. There’s a shadow following us, reminding us that the world is not right without a chattering four year old tagging along behind. 

This visitation schedules suck. Everything about it sucks. All I can do is drink heavily, snuggle C, and wait for my chance to change this. To fight for my son yet again. Four years and it hasn’t gotten easier. It probably never will. But we cope. We adjust, we survive, we make the best of things. And I buy mass quantities of wine and pay my Netflix subscription and count down the days until the world gets back on its axis.

Dear Baby I May Never Have…

Dear Baby I May Never Have…

(Art by Ferenc Pinter)

Dearest Little One,
I am in love with you, and I have not even conceived you yet. I may never get to and that is something I am trying to come to terms with. I long for you nearly every minute of every day. My womb feels empty as I watch my “baby” learn new big boy things like riding a bike and his ABC’s and preparing for Kindergarten. My heart aches at the sight of infant clothing and my hands often wander down to my flat(ish) stomach yearning to feel life in there again. I love you. I want you desperately. But now is not the time. It is in fact, a terrible time for a new baby. Money is tight (though much better than what it was when I was pregnant before), things are awfully hard and confusing with my only child, and I am stuck at a crossroads in life, trying to figure out what I want to be when I’m grown up. Although at 28, I should have figured this out by now. So as you can see, Dear Baby I May Never Have, my life is not ready for you. But oh, my heart sure is. Our arms have plenty of room for a baby and a kindergartner. My brain knows, that if I think things are hard NOW, adding an infant to the mix will most definitely make life a thousand times more difficult. But my heart counter-argues that it would also make life a million times more beautiful.Full of brand new firsts, and gummy smiles, and impossibly adorable accessories in the miniature. Our lives would be filled with boundless love and wonder. Baby Bee would be a fantastic big brother and experience the joys of being a sibling. He would (eventually) have a 24/7 playmate, someone to go on adventures with and play pranks on and to help him drive mommy crazy.

But it won’t happen right now. Hopefully, hopefully, one day down the road, this ache in my heart will be replaced by the blooming love only an expectant mother knows. One day my empty uterus will explode into life again and give me a do over on pregnancy and infancy. You see, I never really got to enjoy my first and only pregnancy. Things were even worse then, I wasn’t as careful, and a miracle happened. I was in a bad spot, and all the bad things overshadowed the holy things that were happening in my body. I think that is part of the reason I am feeling so desperate for you. My baby is almost five, and soon won’t need me. I remember very little of his first 2 years and as time goes on, the few memories I have are fading more and more. There was so much I didn’t get to do with him that I hope I  can do with another one. To make up for it all. To prove that I am capable and loving and not just a big fluke. And to bring the inexplicable joy of parenthood to My Love. He doesn’t say it much, but I know he’s wanting you too.

It’s indescribable, this love and longing I have for a being who isn’t anything more than a wish. It’s maddening, waiting for the time to be just right when time is actually AGAINST me and my ability to have you. It’s heartbreaking, the possibility that I will never see you Earthside. One that haunts my dreams and follows me around all day, dodging in and out of shadows. So, my dearest Baby I May Never Have, please be patient with me. With us. With the world. Please wait in your sacred place until it is time to come to me. Don’t give up hope. Don’t abandon our dream. Know that I am dreaming of you, I am wanting you and I love you. Already. Forever and ever. Amen.

Roller Coaster Ride

Roller Coaster Ride

Baby Bee had a very rough day at school yesterday. For whatever reason, he was mad at the world and the littlest thing set him into a huge meltdown. Complete with blood-curdling screams, SWEARING, and disrespectful words to both his teacher and his mama. So as a consequence he lost every toy except books and puzzles, T.V. and movie privileges for yesterday and today, and a long list of chores to earn back some toys. So today, instead of enjoying the lovely spring day on the golf course with C, Baby Bee and I are at home checking things off our chore list. But as much as this is a lesson in consequences for him, it’s also a lesson in patience for me. Having a four year old “help” with chores is literally the most nerve-wracking, tongue-biting, deep-breathing thing on the planet.

Instead of stacking the tupperware neatly with like sized containers, he just shoved. Instead of nice back and forth motions with the mop, he zig and zagged and flopped and even tried to mop the ceiling. Why? God only knows. He was so eager to help and actually enjoyed the chores that were supposed to be punishment. But my not so inner control freak was…well freaking out. I’ve been sick for about 4 weeks in a row, so I’m already cranky and have very little patience left. Add to that the fact that I’m missing out on a fun sun-soaked day because my child lost his ever-lovin’ mind at school and I’m still trying to be firm and let him know he’s in trouble but he keeps being so sweet and cute and DAMMIT I’M READY TO START DRINKING BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW WE PUT CLOTHES IN OUR DRESSER!!!!!

This child. I don’t know how to handle him most days. He leads me to the edge of my sanity and right before I’m about to jump off in despair, he grabs my hand and does something so sweet and hysterical that I snap out of it and back away from the edge. I have never been so in love, so mad, so exhausted, so in awe and so utterly at a fucking loss than I have been while raising this wild man for the past 4 1/2 years. Every day brings about a hundred different emotions and at least one “what the fuck?” muttered, thought, or sometimes yelled into a pillow or the shower.

Take yesterday for instance. He got up without much complaint, ate breakfast and got ready for school without a single fuss. The drop off went okay and then about an hour later…shit hit the fan. The rest of the morning was him screaming, swearing and losing his shit over one thing and another. After being pulled into the office and calmed down, he came back to my class (where I was crying and cleaning up the lunch mess from 8 toddlers) with the sweetest grin and gave me a big hug. Like he hadn’t just been screaming profanities so fiercely his eye was twitching. Like I hadn’t been questioning my parenting skills and every decision I had ever made in the past 5 years. The rest of the afternoon went fine until we got home and he realized all of his toys were being taken out of his room. Then another meltdown ensued while I drank a beer on the deck trying to not meltdown myself. C came home, talked to G and we started dinner. Since Baby Bee was told to stay in his room all night, I poked my head in to check on him. There he was, sitting butt ass naked in the middle of his room working on puzzles. Happy as a damn clam. He ate dinner quietly, but still made silly faces at me trying desperately to get attention. He returned to his room to clean up and get pajamas on. He came running out with a t-shirt as pants and pants as a hat and said “look mama I’m an elf!”IMG_0575

How can you go from a complete and utter demon child to the most hysterical and cheekiest little person in a day?! Hell, sometimes it’s within an hour. I have a baby Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde on my hands, I think. Or maybe just a little boy with a big heart, smart brain and too big feels in his tiny, energetic body. Honestly, I have no idea. But I DO know that this parenthood gig is a crazy roller coaster ride that I am never prepared for. I prefer calm, smooth seas but my child is a raging typhoon. Every day is a lesson in patience and letting go for me. I just need to remember to breathe, and pick my battles. But have you ever watched a four year old sweep!? Oh the agony.