Dear Husband,

This weekend we had an anniversary. Our 11th. To be fair, we got married so young that we should be having our 5th, but we did what we did and we had our 11th. We’ll be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary before we’re fifty. We’ll likely be too young, too close to paying for an enormous college bill, to afford that GIANT new diamond ring I totally deserve, but it’s fine. Since we’ll be so damn young at our 50th, I’ll just ask for an obscene one then. And I’ll still have strength enough to hold my hand up and make people feel uncomfortable by it’s sheer size.

Or I’ll just ask for a new toaster. Your needs become relative as you get older. You know what I mean?

We didn’t really do much of anything for our anniversary. We didn’t go on a trip or buy something huge. We went to dinner. You rolled your eyes while I took photos of our glorious looking cocktails, and I urged you to buy the Snap On hat with the logo of the restaurant. Which, in the end, you didn’t buy because the really unattractive and obnoxious girl across the bar from us bought it and it changed the way you thought about the whole thing. It wasn’t cool to own a hat from a bar you went to on your anniversary. It was dumb and touristy. Fair. I mean, it was a good hat, but I can understand the reasoning. (Besides, we can always drive back to Woburn and get one if you feel like you really can’t live without it.)

I haven’t been blogging a whole lot this last year. I’ve reasoned that it’s because I don’t have much to say, but something about this anniversary, this weekend with you (because the child was in Maine — woot!) made it abundantly clear that the reason I haven’t blogged isn’t because I don’t have anything to say: it’s because I have too much to say. I have so many things weighing, clinging, considering, and wondering in and on my brain at any given moment these days that I feel like I can’t say anything. I can’t do anything. My brain is like a sunburn, a blister, a wet tissue in that game Don’t Break the Ice. Anything — the smallest thing — can feel enormous. Happiness feels like it gives way to immeasurable sadness. The triumphs of our life and our marriage — and that goddamned adorable kid — are constantly juxtaposed by the tragedy of what feels like the entire world. Our bubble of seeming perfection is silly, trivial even, when compared to the enormous WTF of everything going on around us. Sometimes I feel like when I go to talk about joy, I end up speaking about sorrow. When I want to explain my pain, I can’t get past my anxiety. I feel a permanent lump in my throat. My swallowing is labored by the very weight of existence in our world. It’s so damn hard to focus here, on us, when so much is happening there. And there. And there.

I don’t mean to ramble. What I mean to do is keep you moving with my mental narrative. Once we were talking to someone in an airport in Bermuda. It was a woman who was there alone, celebrating her divorce. She said that they “just ran out of things to say to one another.” At the time we were so young and we talked so much and I remember thinking, “Jesus Christ, we will never run out of things to say to each other.” And the good news is that it’s true. You and me, kid, we’ll never run out of things to say to one another. That won’t do us in. But I never foresaw (how could I at 26?) that we’d have a different battle, rooted in the same silly thing: words. Sometimes you don’t stop communicating because you’ve run out of things to say. You stop communicating because you have too many things to say. Where do you start? How do you lean in to the vulnerability of communication and give everything you’ve got to make sure that you don’t end up some woman at an airport in Bermuda, telling young married couples that you ran out of things to say, when what you really mean is that you had too many things to say and you didn’t know how to say them? Because anger isn’t born of nothing, right? Divorces aren’t born of empty silences. They’re born of huge, deafening, full-to-bursting silences.

Well not us. I have some things to say.

I love you. Goddamn do I love you. I love how you’ve changed as we’ve aged. How you’ve gotten more confident, but also crankier. I love that you are constantly trying to be more than you were the day before. You’re a constant gardner. You learn, absorb, adapt (slowly), and change. Not all at once, and not without pain and suffering (mine), but you do. You stand your ground, but you’re not blind to the affects of your stubbornness. And you soften. (You did, after all, dress all six plus feet of your body in a giant blue dinosaur costume last Halloween. You were a dick about it, right up to the end, but you did it. Because WE were gonna be a family of fucking dinosaurs. And we were.)

I don’t know what the future holds and it scares me. And sometimes I take that out on you. I confused uncertainty about the world, about work, life, Author, my parents, for uncertainty about us. I know who we are. I know who we are almost more than I know who I am. Maybe because, after all these years, there isn’t really a me without you. We’ve been an us for so long that separating us would cause me physical pain. I’ve joked that real estate prices keep us together sometimes, but that’s only partially true. What keeps us together is knowing that the very beating of my heart is tied to the beating of yours. Sure, I’d go on living if something tragic and Kickstarter-worthy happened to you, but my heart would be heavier, quieter. It wouldn’t be a heart worth listening to. Our physical, emotional, and spiritual selves are all blended together in this homogenous unit. Like Bennifer, only neither of the Bennifers worked out. And Coreline was some creepy animated film. But same thing. We’re a Coreline. Part Corey, part Caroline. But neither either. Even when it seems that I am blatantly ignoring you, I’m not. (On a macro level. On a micro level I absolutely am. I’m ignoring you a lot.) Every decision I make in a day, from when to wake up to when to sleep factors you in. For starters, what would my living room look like in a world without you? I want to pretend it would be thoughtful and warm and meticulous, but it wouldn’t be. Because our living room is only thoughtful and warm and meticulous because we are, not because either one of us, singularly is. (And frankly, I think I’d just get drunk and order things at West Elm that I would later regret.)

I hate how we fight. Mostly because we don’t fight. We wait until we are sad about something else, something that has nothing to do with US and we put a mask on that thing. And we assign it to us. And then we fight about it. And we think we’re fighting about US, but we aren’t. We’re fighting about the world. And our anxiety. And the mental weight of being born frustrated 1st world liberals. And that shit is for real.

You know how I know? Because when it comes down to it, we have a plan. We are on a train. And we picked the car, the destination, the schedule. We are thoughtful together. Way more thoughtful than either of us could ever claim to be individually. Together we have a sense of self that is so much bigger than our individual senses of self. (Which is saying something. Because my sense of self is, admittedly, pretty big.) We don’t know What We Want. But we do know what we want. And that’s something. In this crazy, upside down world, any sense of direction, any semblance of a True North is a gift. It’s something to hold on to when everything feels like it’s going belly up. We have that, you and me. And when we lose sight of it, we know how to use a compass. We know how to ask the right questions, talk, and figure out where that damn star is again. That’s not an accident. We’ve worked at that. We worked through round one of our friends’ divorces. We have street cred.

We also have a kid who is great. And he’s not an accident either. He was born all eyes and heart, but we’ve helped cultivate in him a sensibility about the world that reflects what we want for him. What we want him to want for himself.

In 7 years, which isn’t so far away, I’ll have lived my life with you longer than my life without you. All my formative, young adult (and medium adult) years will be by your side. And I’m better for it. You don’t make me a better person, you encourage me to make me a better person. You encourage and discourage me in equal measure, but you also let me be me. You give me roots that enabled me to grow and branch out. I don’t need wings. I’m not trying to take flight. I can reach the sky without them.

I have so much to say to you, Mr. Beaulieu. One day, maybe I’ll run out of things to say, but only because my mind is gone, my words no longer summoned by the moving of my lips. And by then we will speak with our eyes. And my eyes will say to you, “I love you. This was totally worth it.”

But not today. Today, I’m still talking. I still have so much to say.

Love, Caroline

I ruined you before 3.

Hey, kid. One day you’re going to learn stuff about your childhood that I’m sure you’re going to insist I explain to you. Things you’re certain ruined you, and you’ll probably be right, and I’ll have lost the sharp clarity of my reasoning over the years. So I figure I should write it all down now. Save us both the heartache.

Ruining you didn’t take long. By all accounts, I’d completely fucked you up by three. I didn’t wait until you were a vulnerable teen. I did it young, when you were still too young to ever have a chance.

This morning I read an article about how screen time is going to turn you into a homicidal junkie. Those hours I let you watch Finding Nemo and play that bug game that keeps you happy and quiet while I have a glass of wine and try to connect with my husband, it’s ruined you. You’re going to turn into an antisocial dick with no interaction skills. You’ll never date. You most certainly won’t ever have sex. Your father and I will house you and your collection of black socks and vintage Nintendo sets in our basement until you are imprisoned for life for a crime that could have been avoided if I just didn’t give you that screen. So I’m sorry about that.

Also, you have a TV in your room. You probably don’t want to hear the speech about how our house isn’t huge and there is only so much kid space and we wanted your room to be a place that kids could hang out, play, watch movies, AND STAY OUT OF THE ADULTS WAY WHILE WE TRIED TO TALK, but I can see how that doesn’t matter. We never should have put that TV in your room. If I’d have known it would keep you from getting your first job out of college, I’d obviously have made a different decision.

I stopped breastfeeding at nine months. You wont get into medical school because of it. I tried to make it okay by buying your formula direct from Germany, but I can understand how that seems like a cop out. What I should have done was continue to pump. Which I did. After that first 4-day-stay in the hospital with 5 clogged ducts, I kept after it. I hooked myself up to that machine for another six months, but in the end I couldn’t take it much longer. I was working these insane 12 hour days and commuting and you were spending so much time with the nanny. When I got home, I had to go straight to pumping instead of hanging out with you, so I stopped. Obviously I’ll write whatever letters to admissions offices on your behalf, but in the end, the damage is done. You’ll likely amount to nothing because of my selfish decision.

Let’s talk about your blanket. I read a study the other day about how kids with blankets after infancy are actually just emotionally crippled. They lack internal coping skills and can’t fully develop into productive adults. Women find these kind of men repulsive, which leads to feelings of sexual inadequacy. That wasn’t my intention. You love that damn blanket and its gotten you through some tough times. That blanket had you sleeping through the night at 3 weeks old. And when your dad and I had to leave you with strangers for 12-hours-a-day, your daycare report always said that you were happy and social as long as blanket was there. It may be hard to understand, but at the time we wanted you to feel safe and happy. We weren’t thinking about you as a sexually frustrated and socially ostracized adult. And that was short sighted. We should have taken away your blanket and left you there alone. What dumb, naive, first-time parents we were.

I don’t allow your toys out of your room. You’re not allowed to drag endless amounts of kid shit around the house, marking our whole house as yours. I’ve heard a lot of parents and therapists talk about how this will stifle your creativity. Your inability to adequately spread your thoughts around the house will lead you to be a CPA. God knows I didn’t want to raise a financial planner, but I needed to maintain something for myself. When you’re chained to your desk at tax season, cursing my name, I’ll understand. I should have known better. I should have given you more.

On your first birthday, I gave you real cake. It wasn’t made with applesauce or mashed potatoes. It was cake. Out of a box. I sprinkled it with cancer and type two diabetes and set it in front of you like the lousy parent that I am. I wanted to see you smash it and taste it and get super excited about the sugar rush. (Which you did.) But that was a silly memory. A moment in time that wasn’t worth poisoning you against beets and steamed broccoli. I never should have done it. But I did. And it’s done.

I let you drink a lot of juice. Not from concentrate or with sugar added, but juice nonetheless. In the morning I let you have green juice and after school I even let you drink chocolate milk. You eat about 16lbs of green vegetables a day, but those don’t matter. This isn’t about moderation, it’s about the shame and guilt I should feel for giving you juice. So let’s stay focused on that.

I bought you stuff and said yes when I was too tired to say no. So you won’t have a healthy relationship with material goods.

I was honest with you about money from the time you could talk. So you’ll obviously have a childhood riddled with anxiety and concern over the cost burden you add. Then be a hoarder.

I put you in timeout a lot. And let you cry. One time I even shut the bathroom door so I wouldn’t have to listen to your INSANE screaming. But I’ve since read that it causes you shame and you’ll never be able to express yourself emotionally. So, again, I’m sorry.

I referred to you by your gender. A boy. You had a penis so we went with it. You’re welcome to change your mind later, but frankly it was too confusing to try to wait it out and it seemed cruel to call you “it.” I can see now how narrow minded and confining that choice can seem, but yellow is my least favorite color and, at the time, you seemed just fine being a boy.

The list of things I did to ruin you is so long that I could go on forever. And anything I’ve forgotten will pop up in my inbox or newsfeed. Tomorrow I’ll get an article about what I did wrong or how I ruined you in a new way. I know we’re using the wrong sunscreen, bath products, toothpaste. We don’t eat enough organic and I think you had something with red dye in it last week. I’ve let your shoes get too tight, I once used real detergent instead of the eco-shit (that doesn’t work) because I’d just spent $36 on a shirt and you immediately got watermelon on it. I drank beer while I was pregnant. I ate sushi. I yelled loudly while I was pushing, so your entrance wasn’t the silent sanctuary that many psychologist believe is best.

But, kid, I swear to God we love you. I promise you that every day we wake up wanting to make you better, even if that means doing the hard work of making ourselves better. We are human, and we’ve fucked up many, many times, but the road is long. Someday you’ll love someone so much you’ll ruin them too. And I only hope I’m still around so we can have a beer and laugh about how hard it is to love someone so much.

 

What I’ve learned from my thoughtful, pro-gun, Republican friends

Passions are boiling right now. It’s impossible to go on Facebook without a full-frontal assault of opinions, petitions, and arguments. There is plenty of idiocy– on both sides– and plenty of people using passion and desire as a valid argument, also on both sides. The problem is that passion doesn’t solve anything. Arguing two sides of the same issue with logic (or otherwise) that only appeals to those who agree with you is pointless. Unless we can start discussing ideologies, rather than issues, we aren’t going to make headway. It simply won’t happen. Law, lobbies, and logic won’t allow it.

I have a unique view of the unfolding debate. I’m a Texas-born, New Englander. I’m a well documented liberal. I even drove a Prius for a while. But I have a deep roots in a part of the country that doesn’t give two shits about my East Coast diplomacy. On a range of issues from education to agriculture, guns, and business, what is seen as “obvious” and “common sense” here on the right coast, is seen as absurd and elitist when I head south. And before you crinkle your nose and get haughty, it has nothing to do with stupidity. I rarely engage in conversations with idiots. There are two legitimate sides of these arguments. For every issue I take a stand on, I later find I didn’t see the full picture. I didn’t do my due diligence of walking in someone else’s shoes. Regardless of whether my mind is changed, my understanding and perspective are broadened.

That said, I’ve developed a unique ability to understand another opinion deeply without agreeing with it. What frustrates me the most about watching my fellow liberal friends “argue” is that they aren’t arguing the right thing. In fact, they shouldn’t be arguing at all. Two mules with different, stubborn views are just two asses. The issue is not that my pro-gun friends aren’t seeing the issue clearly, or I’m not being clear enough in my articulation of the problem. The issue is that they do not agree. Like two divorced parents in a custody battle. They disagree. And they only way they will ever get anywhere is when they stop making it about themselves and find a common ground… like, I don’t know… their children?

But it’s important for those in favor of gun control to understand a few very key points. As a fellow liberal, I hope you’ll listen and understand so that when you engage in these conversations, you can do so without the blind passions that keep us from moving forward.

  1. Understand guns. The debate that is boiling about the AR-15, including the term “assault rifle” is quickly becoming a red herring. The AR-15 is not a hunting rifle. It’s a people killing rifle. But it’s not an automatic weapon, meaning you have to pull the trigger each time you fire. There are modifications that can be made, but they are illegal. It does carry a magazine, meaning the shooter doesn’t have to load the gun between shots. But it’s not an automatic weapon.(Which are already banned.) If you want gun control, you need to be articulate about the kinds of guns you’re talking about. You also need to recognize that saying “that one is bad” doesn’t help anyone. The military grade weapons that are being used synonymously with the AR-15 are different guns and there are “gun control” measures in place for acquiring those– sometimes heavy ones. Banning the AR-15 is like banning mayo. Miracle Whip is still out there. Focus on the type of gun, not the gun itself.
  2. Know the meaning and the intent of the 2nd amendment. Our founding fathers were fleeing a tyrannical government and wanted to ensure that the citizens of our country never faced the same. They were ensuring our ability to protect ourselves and our families. It was smart. Imperfect, and blind to the future, but fundamentally smart. Yes, those were muskets. But muskets were also what the tyranny was armed with. And that’s how this argument becomes circular really fast. If the question is “how armed?” then ask that question. But arguing against the 2nd amendment in its entirety is fruitless.
  3. Understand the phrase “the answer is more guns.” It took me the very longest to come to terms with this one, namely because I disagree the most vehemently. But that’s exactly why it’s important to understand it. To confident, legal gun owners, Pulse would have ended very differently if the shooter was met with an armed populace. Because they would have stopped it. People still would have died. But the evil would have been stopped earlier. Many of these people have military, police, or hunting experience. These are individuals with more experience and familiarity with… well… killing. From that perspective, it’s easier to fathom the act of protecting oneself. For most of us, the idea of packing heat at Salsa night is absurd. Or at a movie theater. Or a restaurant. To those who know, and love, guns– legally– they serve a very specific purpose. Responding that those who believe this are “dumb” or “uneducated” is childish. It also makes it even harder to have a real conversation. Disagreeing doesn’t make someone dumb. (Though believe me. I’ve heard plenty of really dumb arguments.)
  4. Read up on your gun control. Just do. Because not knowing makes it easier to undermine you. There are loopholes and bad, bad plans, but know what exists. Read about your state and understand how the process works.
  5. Be realistic. The largest mass shooting in US history wasn’t Orlando. It was the slaughter of the Lakota indians at the Massacre at Wounded Knee. And it happened under the pretense of disarmament. Since we didn’t recognize American indians as citizens until decades later, it “technically” doesn’t count. But it does count. And it’s a massacre that pro-gun folks know very, very well. When you say things like “disarming for the greater good,” you’re essentially reading from a transcript of that massacre. And history has a way of repeating itself.

I don’t have the answer to this problem. Not even close. I’m frustrated by the lack of transparency, momentum, and action on all sides. But I know that as a nation and a people, we will get no where arguing. We also won’t get anywhere with unfounded, passionate debate. If we want to affect change, we have to be smart, empathetic, and articulate. And, as every good lawyer’s daughter knows, that starts with knowing the other side as well as you know your own.

** I fully expect to be updating this as my friends berate me… 🙂

 

 

Potting training is a literal pile of shit.

Well, this weekend is going to be excluded from my memoirs.

Aut woke up on Saturday morning with a trucker-sized dump in his pants and the husband drew the short straw. It’s nearly impossible to sleep an extra two hours while your child watches inappropriate television shows in your bed if the child smells like poop. Eventually one of the parents has to sack up and change the diaper, and whomever gets stuck doing it ends feeling exempt from doing anything else childcare related for the rest of the day.

Usually we grumble about how terrible and inhumane it is that our child unleashes that kind of fury upon us first thing in the morning, but eventually we get over it and go have coffee and bagel sandwiches to make everything okay again. Not this Saturday. This Saturday, the husband marches up the stairs and declares, with the confidence of a Custer before his last stand, that he has changed his final diaper. THIS IS BULLSHIT. I am done! 

To be clear (and because he reads these posts and immediately sends me all caps text messages when he thinks I’ve painted him unfairly), I was not against the potty training. But I was committed in the same way you commit to a going on a diet with a friend when you can tell her entire commitment depends on you. You say yes, you have some fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, and by dinner you know that her self esteem will have risen just enough that you can both face plant into some tacos and Corona…light. I made some off-handed comment about how we would have to go to Target and then we’d have to pay attention to our kid all.day.long, and none of those things deterred him. Never again was he going to wipe shit from another human ass. So off we went to Target.

When Aut was about 18 months old we were those asshole parents who bought like 14 training potties because our gifted child was going to potty train himself before he could speak and we wanted to make sure he had the most appropriate, butt contouring surface on which to do that. So we didn’t have to get a potty at Target. Whew. What we did have to get were two packages of training pants– one with Mickey Mouse Club ALL OVER THEM, and another with all the different super hero logos.

Rather than read anything or ask any experts, we pieced together a “plan” based on hearsay and random bits of information we were pretty sure we got from other people with potty trained kids. Then we gave the kid the rundown.

These are big boy pants. Do not shit in these pants. Do not pee in these pants. Doing that is tantamount to shitting on Mickey Mouse’s head. Do you understand? If you shit on Mickey’s head, he’ll tell Santa and then your whole year will be ruined. 

Then we created an entirely too complicated rewards program that was supposed to span the entire weekend. For two days our two year old would stare at the most coveted toy in all of Target and somehow that would motivate him to not shit on Mickey.

Putting aside how fucking miserable it was to explain to a 2-year-old FOR TWO DAYS why he couldn’t have the toy on the counter, everything about our “plan” was flawed. For starters, we went through six pair of big boy underwear in under an hour. Three times we sat him on the potty, read, sang, did humiliating potty dances, only to put his undies back on him and have him immediately pee down his own leg. And insist that that was not what was happening. (Or insist that while his pants were wet, his big boy undies were, in fact, still dry.)

On Saturday night, we were frayed and bitter. I drank an entire bottle of Rose, got into an argument with my husband about something that probably didn’t exist, and then stormed up the stairs to go to bed. Sunday would be a new day.

That night I did have the good sense to consult with my friend Lauren, who did her best not be painfully smug about her gracefully potty trained daughter who basically shares a birthday with Aut. She also had the good sense not tell me all at once what douche canoes we were being by assuming our kid would be successful in a day. (She let those texts come to me over an entire weekend, culminating with a Sunday evening text that began “at the risk of sounding like a dick…”) She suggested instant gratification, which made sense. Come morning, I was giving my kid M&Ms for breakfast if that’s what it was going to take.

And come Sunday did. Kid slept til nine, woke up dry (in an overnight diaper, I don’t have a hole in my head), and we immediately did that dumb parent thing where you get SUPER EXCITED about something that makes young, single people think you should be shot.

YAY FOR BIG BOY PANTS! YAY FOR ANOTHER LIFE-RUINING DAY OF WATCHING YOU PISS ON YOURSELF WHILE WE CHEER FOR YOU AND GIVE YOU CANDY! THIS IS SO FUN! CLAPS ALL AROUND! YOU’RE GOING TO HARVARD! 

He was stoked. He peed on command and I told him to go tell Pups and then he could have one whole M&M. He went to the kitchen and in the time it took to walk the six feet from the bathroom to the kitchen he actually couldn’t remember why he was getting an M&M. We almost had a meltdown because he thought the husband was denying him his M&M, when all he was trying to do was get him to say “I peed, therefore I get M&M.” You know CONNECTING THE FUCKING DOTS. Fail.

Thirty minutes later, I asked him if he needed to potty and then watched him make The Face and turn red while telling me no. He told me “no” while simultaneously shitting his pants. In front of me.

The husband and I kept having to talk over Aut’s head, reminding each other to keep it positive.

Don’t yell! Encourage his progress! Clap! I know you’re holding a cloth Superman baggy of human feces, but don’t let him know you hate him! SMILE! Ask him if he needs to read the potty book for inspiration.

The real clencher was when we took him out in public. (I want for you to know that writing this all down makes our choices seem even worse, which I didn’t even know was possible.) We took him to a lovely baptism/birthday garden party at a friend’s house. He waited about 12 minutes before peeing down the front of his pants. The good news is that it didn’t get on their floor because it all pooled in his shoes. So, silver lining.

I immediately grabbed a pull up, went to the back door, and yelled across two quiches, a nice quinoa salad, about about 30 people at my husband that our child wet his pants and whizzed in his shoes and I was calling uncle. The kid was putting on a pull up and we could talk about this later. Like in a year.

To seal our defeat and humiliation, upon arriving home we had to give our kid the toy. Totally undeserved, but he had no idea. He probably thinks peeing in his shoes was bonus points that fast-tracked him to winning the game.

Then we revised our strategy.

This morning we dropped him off at daycare with a pack up pull ups and nicely asked the daycare to potty train him.

 

 

 

 

Dear 2014. Love, 2013.

Dear 2014, 

I have some ideas for you. 

I don’t want to make you feel like you’re not capable of doing this on your own, but I have some wisdom to share. I did my term and if I knew then what I know now, I could have saved the girl a lot of heartache. 

First, remember what you are: time. Give of yourself freely. Remind her that you are there for her to enjoy, not rush through. When she is on the verge of panic, give her the moments she has forgotten. The ones when the baby was small. She will remember to slow down and breathe. When she is happiest, stand still. Give her a second or two to be there with nothing else to consider. When she is in pain, fly. Go as fast as you can towards something brighter and more beautiful, but remember to give her enough time to heal. Do not give her to 2015 broken. 

She has a big birthday coming. She loves birthdays. She loves birthdays more than anyone I’ve ever known. Call upon the years past to bring joy and celebration. But do not allow her to dwell. Encourage contemplation, but insist on optimism. While you may be only the present, remind her of the future and all the exciting things yet to come. 

I did give her a baby, but I also took many things with me. Remind her to wear a supportive bra. Encourage her to love herself by working hard to be healthy. She’s going to fight you on that one, but be firm. Give her some good sleep and maybe she’ll be able to get up and go to the gym. Maybe. 

As time we are unstoppable, but as people they are not. Be sure she spends time with people who matter, whose love and friendship can be grown and cultivated. Especially those who may not be here forever. 

Give her a few seconds every day to find perspective, a few minutes to notice how the baby has changed and how beautiful her husband is, a few hours to do something that makes her happy, and a few days every now and then to play hookie. 

Keep her safe. Carry her across weeks and months. You have no choice but to allow pain and suffering, but keep your cadence and continue your measured march forward so that there will always be a new day, a new light. Let her fall into your rhythm, find comfort in it, but do not allow her to cling to it. She needs your structure for strength, but she needs to find her own strength, as well. She’s a tricky one. She can be broken by the very materials that build her. 

Love her as I have. Watch her closely. Be good to that little boy. He is small and perfect. Together we will make him big, but he can remain perfect. Teach patience through pace and certainty and resilience through chaos and uncertainty. 

2014, I trust you with her. I will be sad to say goodbye. I made many missteps, sometimes allowing my ambitions to make me forget who I am, but I loved her and gave her so much. When you need help, I will be there. I will offer you my memories, my lessons, and my experiences, you only need to ask. I am not perfect, but I am what I am. The year is gone. I am done. 

Take care. And good luck. 

Yours Truly, 

2013 

NOT what you were expecting.

Everyone I know is with child. Everyone. I am not saying this to be one of those people who has to be the person with the most. There is a chance that you know more pregnant people than I do, but relative to the number of friends I have (very few), it’s a staggering number of pregnancies. I, for one, am totally into the multitude of friend pregnancies. Any opportunity for me to learn way too much about a subject and become a total know it all is instantly my favorite thing. Friends being knocked up = me learning everything you could ever want to know about pregnancy.

As a part of my dutiful pregnant friend training, I’ve picked up some books to read about the miracle of life. As a part of my dutiful blogging, I’m here to share a few key lessons and eye-opening facts that I’ve learned over the last few weeks. (You need to be sitting for this. That applies to guys and gals. You also need to make sure you’re only drinking clear liquids. You don’t want to be drinking milk when you hear what I’ve learned about cervical mucous.)

Likely the most interesting thing about reading up on the art and science of bringing a human into this world is how many things you realize you haven’t known to blame your parents for. Example: the fucked up swirly pattern that is the back of my hair? 100% my mother’s fault. Maybe if that useless milk factory had paid attention to the back of my head, and done the suggested head and follicle massages to avoid “irregular” hair growth patterns, I’d have a perfect ponytail like all the rest of the Heathers. She didn’t, I have the eye of a tornado on the crown of my head.

Thanks, mother.

If you are avoiding having babies because you are bashful about talking about menses, saying the word vagina, or chatting about your sex life, don’t worry. You won’t have to. There is an ENTIRE PREGNANCY LANGUAGE to keep you from ever knowing what the fuck anyone is talking about. This is not funny stuff. I will speak in this language for you.

“Hi! I’m 3DPO and waiting for AF to be a no show. My CM is EW so I’m really hoping we’ve done it! Send BD our way!”

WHAT?

No. Seriously. WHAT?

There’s no talk of periods, only of a woman named Auntie Flow. We can take our temperature vaginally, but can’t say period. Because that would be dirty. Auntie Flow (the period) becomes vilified in these pre-baby days. She’s an evil wench who does nothing but remind you that either you or your husband has failed to accomplish the most basic task. Don’t ever go on a message board if you’re fond of your period. Period fondness is not welcome.

Conception has the power to reverse hundreds of years of women learning to love their vaginas, even find them “beautiful” in their own special, fleshy, purply way. Conception is the anti-vagina. According to conception, your vagina might be a hostile environment, uninhabitable for sperm. (Try to imagine a hostile vagina without a Rambo-style bandana in there somewhere.) It’s hard to heard that you might have a hostile vagina. You don’t want to take it personally, but you do. And then you get hostile. Because no one calls your vagina hostile and gets away with it. No one.

If any part of you is impatient, prone to anxiety, or over analytical, I would suggest surrogacy. Or maybe adoption. One book, What to Expect BEFORE You’re Expecting, gave me such acute anxiety by the 4th or 5th page that I couldn’t sleep. The lists of don’ts was too much for me. No caffeine. Tea is okay, but only certain teas, but there was this study once that suggested that tea could cause flux in blood pressure in .00000013% of women and of those .0032% had a baby who was frowning when it emerged from the birth canal. So, if you can live without tea, it might be best. No one wants a frowny baby. OTC medications should be fine, unless you’re talking about allergy medication, which technically is fine, but it also can dry up your cervical mucous and then what happens? Your vagina gets hostile, of course. So you need to weigh your allergies against the potential of a hostile vag. Tough choice, but it’s yours to make. As for bathing. Fine. If you have to. You really should try to keep your parts from getting too warm, though. So if you’re stressed, you can do anything except relax in a warm bath, drink a glass of wine, or anything else that might actually work.

As for actually being pregnant. Oh wow. There are a lot of “you better be fucking kidding me” memos here. For starters, no raw fish. You know, because no one in Japan has ever given birth to a heathy or smart baby. Ever. Twinkies are fine, lunch meat is out of the question. Your gas will clear an amphitheater. And you’re now the proud owner of something called a mucous plug. (Assuming you don’t destroy your mucous with contraband like Claritin, it actually plays a HUGE role in conception and pregnancy. So I’ve learned.) Your relationship with your spouse, already strained from the sperm on command antics of the prior months, is at risk. The female is hot and horny thanks to the surplus of hormones racing through her veins. She is also orca fat, something that makes Mr. Midnight shy.

Many men also fear spearing the unborn child. It’s cute that they are so concerned. Kind of. The chances of a man folk spearing an unborn child is about as good as a penis getting stuck inside the vagina. While all ladies would like to flatter themselves by thinking their nethers are bear trap tight, we simply know that’s not the case. Unless your man friend has a 10 inch weapon for a private, the baby will be fine.

It’s not all bad, though. First of all, you’re bringing a baby into this world! (Hear the roaring applause?!) Second of all, your breasts get enormous. Sure, they’re filled with milk and leak every time you hear ANY baby cry, but they’re still huge. Some women even get the coveted glow; a transcendent iridescence that cascades them during the gestational phase. (Other women get disfiguring acne, but they still get the jugs and the new human, so it’s kind of a fair trade.)

Despite the paralyzing fear and anxiety that I can look forward to coping with someday, I’m more than certain that if there was ever to be a time for the blog to really get good, pregnancy would be that time.

My next read will be What to Expect When Your Expecting. Based solely on my experience with its sister book, I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

Any other good reads?

i accept

Villa Feraria October 2008 020

I personally don’t know a single person without body issues. Except the hubs. I don’t know if it’s the circle of friends I have, the socioeconomics of my circles, race, ethicity–what. I don’t know. But everyone I know, except my husband, has body issues.

I was once watching a reality show on MTV where a group of very, very large girls went to summer “camp”. “Camp” was of course fat camp, thus the show, and I sat on my couch for a full, riveting hour watching as these girls spent an entire summer losing 16lbs in hopes that their parents would love them a little more when they picked them up. What I started to realize during the show was that these ginormous teens were not entirely different from my friends, the affliction was just different. Amongst them was a smattering of girls breeching (no pun intended) 300lbs, and one or two safely within the 290s, thusly making them the “skinnies” in the group– an aspirational leadership team who had graduated to tankinis, rather than the usual t-shirt over the one piece.

I watched these 293lb “skinnies” give eating advice to each of their friends, tell them about the best way to get a guy to notice them, show them the latest fashions– be the outright envy of their friends. The friends who, to the rest of the world, were no different. From my couch those three lbs made no difference. They were all at fat camp.

My point is that I think we probably gravitate towards people who are like us because–no matter how individual we are– we want to be individuals with other people. In my experience, true individuals are like swamp monsters. There is proof of them, but no one can ever seem to actually capture one. This may be because true individuals get very, very lonely and end up taking their own individual lives. Sad, but not so far fetched. Being an individual requires a unique blend of ego, confidence, lack of self awareness, and emotional vapidity that is hard to attain. I don’t say that to be rude, but because I believe that not caring what people think is a cold and isolating place, and to live in that place means shutting people out. When you love someone, you care what they think. It just happens.

Anyway, to continue my story (which I understand isn’t really even a story)… body issues. I’m not stupid, and I do see that there is a very, very good chance that somehow the cosmos aligned to bring me together with my body doubting brethren. It’s not as if I interviewed my friends, checking to make sure they were self conscious about their bodies, or put an ad on Craigslist for people who have food issues… we just found each other. It was likely a moment; one afternoon in early friendship a dessert menu probably arrived. I looked at the new friend across from me, reading her eyes. Did she have self discipline? Was she going to order dessert? Was she going to ask for water with lemon? Or was she like me? Hoping, praying to an higher power that our companionship would lead to dessert? And with small phrases like “molten chocolate” or “bananas foster” the first step towards understanding was made.

The story doesn’t end there, though. The true test of our fondness would come later. Would I receive a delayed text message bemoaning our decision? Would my new friend go through the motions of feeling guilty about our decision? Like magic, I would. And the next step, the crucial one, was made. Next thing you know I have a whole group of friends with questionable decision-making skills, a propensity for overindulging, and a consciousness for what the human form should look like. Body issues. Yay!

The problem is that as I grow older, I also grow tired of jealousy, competition, and most of all body issues. I do not want to be in competition with anyone, but rather learn from everyone. Take something from their lives and apply it to my own, but only if it works for me. I want to be a woman who relishes the joys and achievements of my friends and does not take them as an opportunity to identify how I have failed. I want to be encouraged and inspired by those acts. I also want to stop doing the naked mirror dance, agonizing over the parts of me that do not conform to some idea I have in my head. One that I am not even sure would make me happy.

I think this means I want… happiness.

So here’s the big question, the one that far greater men and women than myself have dared answer: what the hell is happiness and how do you achieve it?

I don’t have any clue, but here is what I do know: I am going to figure it out. I am going to rid myself of the bad, search desperately for the good, and try really, really hard to see what it is that so many people are so damn… happy…. about.

So here, based on an email from my good friend and gym BFF Nicole, is my beginning. On the road to happiness, these are the things I accept:

I accept that my parents got divorced and there is nothing that can be done about it.

I accept that I am not a morning person.

I accept that most people are morning people.

I accept that there are a lot of really annoying people in this world, but they are not out to get me.

I accept children.

I accept that I miss my dad, but that those choices have been made. I can be hurt, or I can rely on my friend Hailey to always hand me a cocktail and give me a solid hour to cry and say mean things…

I accept that I’m not an individual in the way that so many people are. My tattoo doesn’t make me a hipster, and my hair doesn’t make me a debutante. My apartment doesn’t make me a yuppie, and my shoes don’t make me a prep. I am better than an individual. I’m a chameleon.

I accept that I get sad.

I accept love.

I accept that I’m not a friendly person.

I also accept that the road to happiness may force me to be a touch friendlier, and I’ll do my best.

I accept that my apartment, though not big enough for dinner parties or house guests, is perfect. It’s my home. It’s where I’ll find Stuart and the hubs.

I accept that there are adventures in my future.

I accept that heartache is a journey to someplace I don’t even know exists.

I accept that with enough practice, enlightenment is possible.

I accept that I was not built for a bikini.

I accept other people’s opinions, but do not hold them so close as to allow them to make me question myself.

I accept that this body is not the one in magazines and on TV. But this body can run ten miles. This body is capable of one of the most beautiful Urdhva Dhanurasanas in the Metro Boston area. This body has done the very best that it possibly can.

I accept that happiness isn’t about being happy, but about setting an intention to be happy. Intention is half the battle.

I accept that life does not mean to make things difficult, it just happens.

I accept that humiliation does not exist. Humiliation is simply an inability to laugh about what we have attempted, but not perfected.

I accept that people do not like me.

I accept.

I accept.

I accept.