when you go out into the snow

10 Feb

My slippers wait for me by the couch, open, one foot away from adventure. We rely on one another, my slippers and I – they for movement and I for warmth.

Do they agree with where I’ve taken them today? We’ve been into the kitchen, back and forth from counter to sink, a mere hair’s breadth away from one another (a swivel really), and into the living room where they wait for me now by the ottoman, open.

Where will our next excursion take us? To the bedroom perhaps, or to the front door. Will they be content to remain at the threshold, still open, still waiting, while I don the boots and step out into the snow?

Slippers are not feeling things. But I am.

I am.

I like for you to take me with you when you go.

 

Why we gather in times of grief

7 Feb

I have been staring out the window by our bed at these unfamiliar trees –

tall, lean, bare, warm-seeming, bunched together yet not crowded,

in family groups, tall trees on either side of shorter trees,

staring at their branches, twisting silhouettes against the ever-more-blue sky,

reaching, reaching up, curling their tendrils up towards the sun,

their lovely fingers soon to sprout the first green growth of spring

as surely as I am awake here in Maine witnessing them through a window frame,

all of them reaching, each of them unique,

rooted together in a forest of whispering snow,

blanket acceptance,

 

like we are

gathered here together

reaching for the sun,

silhouettes

against an ever-more-blue sky.

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~ especially for L and C

Water and Light

23 Jan

I live in the Midwest, where grey skies and wind chill are getting me down, so I took my daughter to the public conservatory a few days ago in search of plant life, peace and easy companionship. Somewhere between the Koi Pond and the children’s play area (which she’s sadly outgrown) was this simple waterfall rolling over piles of stones someone had stacked.

Watching the water, I thought to myself:

 

Every day, we build our lives.

No matter what comes,

no matter where we are,

every day,

we build our lives.

 

Reciting this phrase has been like a ray of sunshine for me this week, so I wanted to share – because maybe it will light you up a bit, too.

<3

Start Here

10 Jan

My daughter has been the star of my blog since I began. I love to write about her. Parenting her is the most fascinating and shareable aspect of my life. Being her mom inspires me.

But she doesn’t want to be the star of my blog anymore, which leaves me with a dilemma.

It’s not that I have nothing else to write about – there’s no dearth of material from my everyday life.

20151227_160206.jpgI have a dog who’s like the Dog Park Mayor, sniffing and greeting every arrival – both human and canine – with enthusiasm and gusto. I have a cat who flops himself into photo-worthy positions every day.  I have a partner whose sense of humor extends beyond Mars or Jupiter. I have a job that has turned my understanding of storytelling on its head – blending elements of power and context and autonomy and responsibility in a way they were never blended while I was in school.

There is so much I can share. No, it’s not a dearth of material I’m struggling with.

It’s the absence of a through-line, a core topic, a purpose.

Up until now, “Are You the Babysitter?” described my purpose, even if I didn’t stick to it with every post. As a white lesbian adoptive mom co-parenting a Mayan daughter, I had a solid identity for this blog. Everything radiated out from that core – shedding light on the experience of adoptive parenting, transracial parenting, plain and simple parenting, occasionally offering insights on step-parenting, making a virtual connection with anyone who might be experiencing some of the same things.

But what can I offer the worldwide web, now that my daughter wants out of the spotlight?

I understand her need. She’s making her own life on her own terms, contemplating her own digital footprint in preparation for the day she is allowed to make one. She’s taking control of her life, and she should.

I am not questioning her choice. I am questioning myself.

  • What is my blog’s purpose now?

Here on the web, there is certainly queer community to be found, lesbian mom camaraderie and adoption insights – on Village Q, for example, on Mombian, on Lost Daughters – places I go for insight, inspiration, validation.

  • So why continue the blog? 

I am a saner person if I write – calmer, happier, more confident, friendlier, easier to be around. It makes me happy when my words resonate with someone else on this planet. I want to make life a little easier, or make someone a little more curious. I want to offer a fresh point of view on a complicated public conversation – by sharing about my own life.

  • How do I choose a new title that fits?

What words encompass family, love, dogs, social justice, cats, race, power, nonprofits, public transit, and communication in a digital age?

These are the questions bouncing around my head while the family’s jeans jangle in the dryer.

But this phrase has been buzzing through my brain for weeks, and it may be the key:

Start from where you are.

Google attributes the line to Arthur Ashe, but I’m pretty sure some version of it first landed with me via Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, which I read in my twenties.

I was younger then.

I was, in Rainer Maria Rilke’s words, “…before all beginning…”  Now I am, quite literally, in the middle of my life and maybe even more than my daughter’s choice, this mid-life business is why I must …

Start from where I am.

If you opened my journals from the past few months – which I honestly encourage NO ONE to do – but if you were granted access and my blessing somehow, you’d find a lot of first lines simply describing my here-and-now. I think of this as practice. Start here and see where the writing goes:

“Just folded two loads of laundry, stripped G’s bed, threw those sheets in to the wash, came upstairs to Kelly reading in the grey chair, dogs sleeping, and Miss E finishing a wonderfully long paragraph about the pros and cons of technology.”

~ January 5th

“Dogs, dogs, everywhere dogs! Lucy, the ancient dachshund, is click clacking back and forth across the room in search of nothing in particular – comfort, treats, food, companionship, a fresh bed, water, exercise? It’s a mystery to the humans in her midst.”

~ January 7th

For me, writing is a practice. Blogging is an offering, an opportunity to connect. This is what I know. I am no longer waiting to figure out how it all holds together. I am simply starting from where I am, sharing little bits as I go.

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The Very Persistent, Very Old, Very Not Sleepy Dog

3 Dec

My dachshund, like most people, has trouble sleeping through the night – now that she’s gotten old.

This morning, after taking her outside at 4:00 a.m. to fulfill an obvious need, I had three goals: (1) Help her settle into bed and fall back asleep, (2) Keep her quiet so everyone else in the family could sleep, and (3) Delay feeding her until 6 a.m. to end this behavior for good.

After ten minutes and 3 more trips outside, I gave up on my first goal.

But I had this. I could still keep her quiet and delay her food. I could. I would not be bested by a dachshund.

I lay down again, resolved.

She sauntered to the edge of the bed, and I could see her gearing up for a loud, sharp bark. I lifted her and set her right back in the middle of the bed to start over. She shook her head and sauntered to the edge of the bed. Again. And again.

She is a very persistent dog.

Finally, I set her on the floor to wander. The down side of her wandering was that I had no way of noticing and pre-empting the bark. The upside was that it allowed me one brief but delicious cat-nap.

Soon, of course, she was barking her head right off. I just lay there in our basement guestroom – where I had taken the dog to give my Honey a small break – feeling sleepy and a little defeated.

Did I mention this was Morning #6 of such behavior?

She had at least three full barking fits before I took pity on my family again, got out of bed, and threw in a load of laundry. She seemed relatively content wandering the basement and sniffing things, licking things, weaving between my feet, looking up at me now and again as I sorted and folded.

I remembered her in her spry youth, stealing food right off my daughter’s high chair tray – my daughter who wears braces now and carries a 20-lb. backpack to and from school.

I looked at my little Lucy with her milky, near-blind eyes and her waggy tail, and something about my posture must have suggested compassion. Or weakness. Or something. Because she started barking again, like, “You fool! Don’t you know what I want?!?”

I took her outside. It wasn’t what she wanted, but what else could I do? She barked for the neighbors.

The sky showed faint layers of red and near-gold against the deep blue of night. I went back to bed while Lucy wandered, but I couldn’t fall asleep.

She wanted up. She wanted down. She wiggled. She licked. She grew agitated when I tried to hold her in place, and at 5:45 a.m., I abandoned my third goal.

I brought her food downstairs and poured it into a bowl. I dampened it for her ancient teeth and placed it on the floor – done.

She sniffed once and walked away.

Frantic, I ran upstairs, grabbed two treats, came back downstairs to a cacophony of barking, and sprinkled the treats over her food.

Dog: 3.  Human: 0.

By 6 a.m., she was lying, silent and content, next to my Honey in the bed. … where she slept soundly for the next hour and a half.

I made coffee.

I started my shower.

A few minutes later, my daughter came into the bathroom and asked from behind the curtain, “Mom?”

“Yes?”

“Did you do any laundry?”

Why … yes. Yes, I did.

Mom: 1.

Learning to Let Go: Year Eleven

6 Oct

Slowly, I realize your pencil is sharpest while my eyes are averted. Your attention is focused on the page, on the numbers, on the words you are meant to memorize when I hold my tongue.

You are every day so much more your own person – conscientious, creative, sharp-witted, smart – and you prefer not to filter yourself through the words or the gaze or the systems designed by your mother. I get it. I was where you are once.

I respect your choices. I respect your desires. I appreciate that good work, good grammar, completion of anything you begin matters to you. This is everything. This is … you becoming you.

As I, again, become me.

I am still your mom. I will always be your mom, wanting you to succeed, offering to put myself, my life, my own choices, desires, preferences on the line for you, even as you silently show me this isn’t what you need. Or want.

But this is my struggle: Being me, just me, knowing I am enough on my own. I am enough when I step back, when I talk about something other than you, when there is space between us. I am enough when I do me.

This is a middle school lesson I must learn – and not only for myself, which is why it may stick.

This stepping back is how I let you do you, too.

Flip Flops - Cabo

Email sent WED at 3:30 p.m.

17 Sep

It’s 3:30. School’s out. Middle school auditions are today, directly after school, and I am sitting at my desk downtown, acutely aware of the time.

I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E about her audition
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not remind Miss E to introduce herself
I will not text Miss E
I will not send Miss E emoticons like kissy faces or thumbs extended upward
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E
I will not tell Miss E to please use excellent diction and speak slowly and don’t overact and enjoy the experience and breathe deeply
I will do none of this because SHE’S GOT THIS

I will not text Miss E
I will not text Miss E

I promise:
I will not text our daughter today.
Unless she texts me first.

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Why?

19 Aug

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A Walk in the City

22 Jul
Underpass

Underpass

Underpass II

Underpass II

Wall II

Wall

Window

Window

Door

Door

All the Lilypads

8 Jul

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