On Friday, less than a week after we all got under one roof again, it was time to leave for the family vacation.

It’s been a discouraging summer for family solidarity. Dan’s been at work. Miss G’s been out of town. Miss L’s kept herself isolated in her room. We’ve taken respective trips to respective places to distance ourselves; when home, we’ve kept our lives carefully parallel. No crossed lines here, no sirree.

I don’t want us to fade out. I’ve beat my fists bloody against this wall; it remains unconcerned. I had little hope our vacation would help. I braced myself for spending a week in the car together driving to Minnesota, then spending another week up there, all of it under this fog of continued disconnect.

Then I took the girls out shopping the day before we left town, and the cloud ditched us. Turns out it’s a homebody. None of the weird tensions or invisible barriers existed outside the house.

Funny thing, how the sun shines so much better through clear skies.

Road tripping for a week, hauling the dogs, camping along the way... cooler temperatures, beach walks, hiking up rivers... If there is enough magic anywhere to combine into the glue we desperately need, it lies in these things. I believe in the healing power of skipping stones and summer thunderstorms.


Missing Miss G

Miss G has been in Minnesota since school got out, visiting her dad’s parents. She comes home tomorrow, exactly when I’ve reached the point of not being able to stand her absence for one more day.

The world is not right without her constant chatter, her random popping in and out of the house. I don’t do well without her here. Life is dull. I get too serious, too stuck in my head.

Her being is so fiercely substantial that other people are now vapid by comparison. Her relentless logic is addictive. Her energy levels-- though exhausting-- are grounding, somehow; I can’t be flighty while bracing myself to withstand the pure optimistic force that is my daughter.

It staggers me that out of the billions of women in this world, I am the one who was chosen to raise this little sunbeam. It’s an honor I don’t take lightly.

This is crazy. I have to learn how to live without her when she goes off to college and starts a life of her own. I don’t see my feelings on this issue changing in the mere six years before that happens. How do other parents handle this? Or am I just bizarrely addicted to my child in a way that other parents aren’t?

Is it tomorrow yet?


One Whole

Time away made me feel more sure about what I want going forward-- in my marriage, my parenting, house remodeling, work-- and now I’m home, freshly determined to incorporate all that into my current reality. What I want is integration.

I kept thinking one choice replaces a different choice. So very wrong. It’s not an either/or between (for example) ‘new baby’ or ‘new career.’ I am both those things already: Mom. Working. Just like I am both wife and my own person, simultaneously disorganized and on top of things, and a hippie who likes war movies. I could list about a million other examples; I have always been steeped in dichotomy. I guess I forgot that about myself.

I’ve made myself nuts trying to keep all my offshoots separate but equal, make sure every part of me gets the same amount of playing time. It doesn’t work like that. I’m everything I am, in all directions, all at once. Sometimes one strength dominates. Sometimes a weakness gets exercise. But they’re all me-- every last contrasting, exasperating, intricate bit.

And the depressing stuff-- stop letting it destroy me. There is yang in every yin. (Or... would it be yin in every yang? Well, whatever. Both are true.) There's a lot of hard in stepfamilies, but there's a lot of good too. Like everything else in the world, it will never be 100% good, or 100% bad. It will never be exactly how I want it, but it is what it is. Accept it. The yuck needs to be reabsorbed instead of rejected. Mistakes, come on back in. Just...take it easy on the carpet this time, okay? Regrets, you might as well come along too. But off to the side for a change. There’s room over there next to Worry. Happy? Joy? Focus? Ah yes, forgot about you three for a while. Front & center now.

There. That’s not so hard. Line all the mutinous thoughts up in a row and teach ‘em how to play nice. Like a Seurat, all those little bits of dark and light combine to create one vision. I just needed to take a step back to see it.

Thanks to Christina Katz & The Prosperous Writer for the perfect blog prompt.


Freedom? Yes, please.

I fled the increasing heat of the desert this week for cool Colorado, to wallow in some sister-and-her-toddler-time. Miss G is with her dad’s family, Miss L is with her mom’s, and Dan is working under his car. I was happy to leave town and couldn’t wait to play with my niece... but it’s also poking around mighty close to a big ol’ mess I don’t want disturbed.

The wrangling in my mind has been worse than usual. In this corner, we have a rookie contender: accepting my life in its current state and moving forward, sans future children. She’s fresh, and ready for a fight. But the incumbent champion-- babybabybaby-- packs a punch like George Foreman driving a Mack truck. It’s gonna be a night to remember, folks.

Would coloring all day with a cute li’l ankle-biter just underline the life I don’t have? Or would it remind me how busy babies are and help me appreciate the my comparative freedom?

So. This week.

Peep’s cheerful morning chatter drifts from under the nursery door. We eat graham crackers and read pop-up books together while I get drunk on baby-head smell. Our walks down the driveway take 47 minutes... one way. And there’s a thrill of fear upon entering any place of business so foolish as to keep breakables on low shelves. For a girl who wanted another baby so much it hurt, this week should have been the emotional equivalent of swallowing broken glass. Instead, I am swimming in... angstlessness. Whether it’s a word or not.

We’ve had a pile of crazy good fun that can only be summarized by the phrase ‘life with a toddler.’ My personal dilemma took a vacation during my vacation. I’ve been-- well, happy. There’s a little sad and a little regret mixed in with that, but it’s just makes the happy richer somehow. What’s that called again?

Mid-trip, my weekly newsletter from The Prosperous Writer showed up. This week’s blog theme is ‘joy.’ Ahhh-- thanks, Christina. Just the word I was looking for.

I’ve been drenched in joy this week.

Joy is Happy, after Happy goes through some serious shit and comes out standing fierce on the other side. It’s Happy, all grown up. Happy is a golden retriever, all slobbery and uncomplicated. Joy’s the greyhound.  

Joy is acceptance of my right now, regardless of what happens in that boxing ring upstairs, the sunlit birch against a dark sky. If I've succeeded at finding that, today is a true independence-from-baggage day.