I will never write about addiction.

clay mother sea of cortez

I will never write about addiction, even though I should. I do not visit its hard landscape easily.  I lived there once.  It consumed me.    The Addict dragged me to its jagged edge and left me there screaming as he plunged into its heart.   When I am forced to describe addiction to others, I use spare language.  I do not embellish.  There are no colors or smells or quirky characters we  met along the way.   There are nouns and verbs.  They are black and they are white.   This is very unusual for me.  When I am forced to remember addiction, however, it is vivid.  Like a slide show set too fast in HD.  Each lurid frame stands out, in Technicolor, then clicks to the next.  Continue reading

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these things i ♥

DSC_0724friendships that last a life time  (even if they are new)

motherhood

pie

the Gulf Coast of Alabama

a July birthday

5000+ years of yoga teachers

thank you notes

black coffee

good grammar

men who love their wives

laundry dried outside

lunch

the sun

powder days

grandmothers

pineapple

the architecture of the olive tree

cities

most birds

all teenagers

front porches

Canadian roots

lacrosse

my children’s stories and dreams

running

words

in-laws

the sound the back door makes Continue reading

self performance review: blogging

phr keyboard December is a very hot month where I have worked for the past 20 Decembers.  While on the outside, winds, rains, and several months of chilly darkness blow into town, inside it is an overheated  pressure cooker.  The reasons why are unimportant (and idiosyncratic to the cult of personalities we call our firm).  Let’s just say that last December internal temperatures escalated even further when one of my partners ripped a page out of a business school text and suggested we should add performance reviews of ourselves to the mix.  The exercise was just as sweaty as we had feared.  However, after I finished, I had to admit – the self study had done me some good.  So recently I applied the same scrutiny to my blogging to uncover why I am so surprisingly horrible at it!   Nine posts since fall 2011 !?!  I am particularly embarrassed to admit that in one of my first posts I  even bragged:

I was born to blog.  Some  might say I have been blogging since long before “Al Gore Invented the Internet.”  Harriet the Spy was my childhood heroine.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_the_Spy  Yes, I was the one in the hoody, hunched over the notebook chronicling the late  1960s and the 1970s in Upstate New York and Ontario.  My family rolled eyes, cringed and made paranoid comments in stage whispers.  The compulsion continued and I have innumerable volumes tucked away in locked trunks and sealed envelopes on my property in An Unnamed West Coast City.

https://momdeguerre.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/if-a-mother-cries-out-in-cyberspace-does-it-make-a-sound/ I  blog in my head constantly, but seldom unleash the text onto the keyboard.  Why?  I am opinionated, nosy, and surrounded by people doing meaningful, kooky, sensitive, and absurd things – often all at the same time.  In other words, I live in a land deep in rich material.  So why don’t I write?  Why don’t I write HERE?  On WordPress ??  What are my excuses?  Thanks to my self review, I now know.

  1. No time.  Like nearly every other  citizen of the  modern world, I am very busy and “important.”  I do not have time for this self-indulgence (even if it would improve my mental health)! 
  2. WordPress is too confusing.  I believe this, but because I am so busy and “important,” I have not had time to find a good alternative.
  3. Perfection is the enemy of the good.  This one is probably self-explanatory.  In me, the condition can be acute.  It usually affects structure, language choice, and message.  I probably do not need to mention that I also hate typo’s and misspellings, especially my own.   Interestingly, I do a lot of writing in my everyday professional life and turn out a good work product without letting the pursuit of meaningless perfection rule my days.
  4. No theme!  This one is important.  I love other people’s blogs and follow them.  I read about writing.  I read about blogging.  One of the first rules about the latter is to have a theme.  My head is like a tossed salad; there is no organizing theme, not even the vinaigrette is reliable.  My family and friends and colleagues are similarly scattered.   I think this is a problem with my writing in general.  I am not exactly writing about any particular thing on a regular basis.  You know, like the pretty meals I have cooked, the books I have read, my travels, or even carpools I have known and loved (or hated), being a lacrosse mom, the emptying nest, or what it is like to have a child run away (even though you know exactly where he is).
  5. Fear of the ordinary.  I say I fear the ordinary, but at the same time, I believe in the ordinary – mine and everyone else’s.  That’s why I like following blogs and talking to people on buses.  I have even written about my belief in the ordinary.  https://momdeguerre.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/joy-v-08-19-12-the-long-good-bye-begins/
  6. Fear of being uncovered.   I really try not to write anything that would embarrass my people, but …..recently I wrote a barbed review of an evening at my home with a visiting relative.  I compared our kitchen that night to a saloon and mentioned that it was my first lap dance ever.  (It is well-known that  I am not leading a lap dance sort of life.  )  Then I emailed it to a few friends, but would be mortified if the kitchen island lap dancer, who is related to my husband, ever read it.
  7. Not sure I like my blog name and I do not like the subtitle.  Okay.  I love the name, mom de guerre, because of the play on words but it is grim to the point of being a mismatch with  my everyday life.  As for the subtitle (“musings from the dark side of parenting”), it spilled onto the screen during a black period of child raising.  I have had my nose pressed against the underbelly of parenting and it is ugly.  The child who takes me there has given me permission to be open about it, but at core I am upbeat and hopeful, as well as protective of his privacy.  Besides, I really do not want to wallow there even if I should.  I have entertained a new blog name and maybe for my mental health I should adopt it.
  8. The dogs need a walk, there is a load of laundry to be done, and I brought some work  home.  This relates to # 1.  There is always something more urgent to do.  I am a horrible relaxer and consider that a character flaw.  I also have a 20 year long guilt streak about being a mother who works hard outside the home.  Even as I write this, I am thinking about our federal taxes (due Monday), two cards I have to write, whether this is a productive way to spend an afternoon off of work, and, of course, the dishes in the sink.  Oh! And did I exercise yet today (not really).

I am a full time mother. You are too.

“Blessings on the full time mothers and fathers.”  — comment from an unnamed mothering blog earlier this week

I am in training for the empty nest.  I have a few good coaches in the mothers who have gone through similar nest remodels before me.  Some are my dearest BFF’s or my loving mother-in-law who has never grown stale despite the fact that her youngest, my husband, is now 51.  And just yesterday I discovered this great wordpress blog written by two sisters :  http://afterthekidsleave.com/2012/08/03/where-i-introduce-karen-to-a-list/  .  You know they had me at the subtitle for their site:  “First you rent out their rooms.”

Part of my summer training has been early  morning musing, reading and some times writing while the rest of my full house sleeps deeply and snores lightly.  The writing part is elemental for for me: a part of my makeup, one that the crush of daily life  has forced me to neglect for too long.  But I don’t want too get too maudlin here because “Mum Neglects Mum in Her Zeal to Care for Everyone Else” is a tired headline and beside my point this morning.    I have taken a lot of inspiration and laughter from other mothers’ blogs.  And occasionally I also take a hit of irritation that makes my short hair stand on end.    See the quotation above for example.

I know what the writer was getting at and that is exactly why I did not respond.  I do not need the maelstrom of the stay-at-home vs working-mother debate at this stage of parenting.   As mothers of a certain age,  we shredded that issue to pieces ages ago and with it, at times, unnecessarily shredded each other.   The process was divisive and sometimes even cruel. I remember so well the tension.  It was like a lacrosse face-off over the ball of motherhood.  Only one side  would end up with the ball.  Or so we thought.

   Aside from my maternity leaves, I have worked continuously since before I started reproducing.  It created a chronic low-grade anxiety when my boys were small – one that found me in awkward places pumping milk with an industrial strength machine or up before dawn decorating homemade sugar free cookies with raisin faces and then slipping out to the bus before they awoke.  There were elementary school play costumes held together with staples rather than thread, dinners at McDonald’s ( a  memory so strange that it still makes my organic sons question whether I was mature enough to mother in my 30’s), emailed conferences with teachers, showing up to chaperone field trips in suits and pumps and then raced back downtown.  I was crestfallen when my oldest came home from a playdate during the first month of kindergarten and said, “I just learned you  have it all wrong.  Dads are supposed to get up in the morning and go to work.  You are supposed to stay home.”

 One of my husband’s three stay-at-home sisters remarked early on that it was “heresy” for me to believe I could raise my children as well as our mothers did when I spent 10 + hours a day at an office.

Eventually that sister went back to work, reluctantly but necessarily.  We did not talk about “heresy” anymore.  Because a funny thing happened to all of us between there and here.  As the miles increased on our mothering odometers, judgments about other mothers sprang more slowly from our heads and lips.  It turned out we were better off banded with other mothers than we were alone.  We came to know that we are all “working mothers”   and we are also all “full time mothers”.

When you think about it, have any of us ever met a mother who wasn’t “FULL TIME” no matter how old her children are?  I am not as sure about fathers, but every mother I know is a “full time” mother.  From the moment the babe is placed in our care – whether in utero or later, we are mothers 24/7/365.   There is another program and agenda running constantly in the background of our minds and hearts.  Whether we perform brain surgery, clean other people’s toilets, drive heavy machinery or run countries or run our own homes, we are always mothers first.

And the full-time demands do not stop when they can wipe their own bottoms or even drive themselves to school.  In some ways they intensify.  I laugh when neighbors with small children cruise by our house tugging their youngsters along and sigh when they spy my husband and I reading the newspaper or having a glass of wine as if we are leaving under a lucky star because we have teenagers.  Ha !  Little kids / little problems…. you know how that saying ends.   You know how it hurts.  And how the kids’ program keeps running in the background on your personal hard drive.