Saturday, August 19, 2017

Standing in the sunlight laughing, hide behind a rainbow's wall

Kids break your heart sometimes. Every parent knows that, and if they don't they will eventually figure it out. Kids are human and humans are complicated. They hurt each other.

My daughter has been saying for at least a few years that she never wants children. Part of me thinks she might change her mind someday (she's a baby herself, at least in my eyes) but honestly? Parenting is not for everyone. If she doesn't change her mind I'm totally okay with that. I do not feel, and I have never felt, that every woman should be a mother. I think it should be 1000% up to the individual and I think she can have a very fulfilling, happy life without kids.

(Selfishly, I'd like her to have children one day because the thought of having more people in my circle of joy makes me happy. And Jesus Christ I can't even imagine what an amazing grandpa Jason would be. He's unbelievable with children. But I digress and I'd never ever tell her that because it's not about me)

Jonathan think he's might have children someday, depending on what his eventual wife wants. He's a baby too, of course, so he has no way of knowing yet. This is all fine.

What's not is fine was what Megan said at dinner a few nights ago.

"Why on Earth would I want to have a child who might end up like me? No one deserves anxiety and depression."

And my heart. Oh, my heart.

I used to think there was nothing worse than my own anxiety and depression, but I was wrong. My child suffering is far, far worse than anything I could ever experience.

I get it. I get what she's saying.

But oh. The thought of not having Megan. This wonderful, bright, sunny, funny, sweet girl. I cannot imagine my life without her. I cannot imagine the world being a better place without this girl who pets every dog she sees. This girl who compliments every other girl she sees because "I think female friendship is important and girls get too much negativity from everyone all the time, so I'm going to be positive". This girl who loves the elderly wants to spend her life advocating for animals. This girl who sometimes comes downstairs in a Grace Kelly dress and floral converse tennis shoes, her thick hair pulled back in a bun and not a scrap of make-up on her face. She's fully, unabashedly herself and she. is. amazing.

Most Friday nights she and I spend a few hours together. We like a lot of the same things; movies, shopping, fancy grocery stores, local restaurants, coffee. We often get dinner and chat, usually about nothing important, but sometimes about things so deep they take my breath away.

Last night we wandered about downtown. It was a hot night, but had enough of a breeze that we weren't miserable. She suggested a local cafe that we'd never eaten at for dinner.

It was nice. Probably fancier than we are, but that's okay. No one is very fancy here, even those who think they are. While my daughter was enjoying her homemade ice cream I brought up what she'd said about her fears of having children and how, frankly, it broke my heart.

"That's not the only reason," she said, but her eyes were down when she said it.

I told her that was okay. That whatever reasons she had are her reasons. I just wanted to give her a what if.

What if your "broken brain" isn't really "broken"?
What if the brokenness is what makes it amazing?

If you look at so many people around you who don't think for themselves, who don't have any heart for others, who don't seek to make the world a better place...maybe, just maybe it could be that your brokenness is what makes you completely whole. Completely amazing.

That maybe your broken brain gives you the ability to see all sides of things. It makes it easier to put yourself in others shoes. It gives you bravery and wisdom beyond your years.

If you fight your anxiety, your panic attacks, and your depression it makes you tough. You have no choice. You have to fight. Some days it's a fight to just get out of bed. Some days it's a fight to feel "normal". Some days you don't know how you'll get to tomorrow, but yet you do. Every day you do.

This baby has been a fighter since she was born. I look at her sometimes and can't help but think of that little three pound wonder who came out wide-eyed and looking around at everything around her with a resting bitch face that she's beyond perfected in the last 19 years. She was tough, even then. She wasn't supposed to be born so soon, things weren't supposed to be so hard for her.

She's survived. She thrived.

And maybe, just maybe, it was because of her brokenness.

We don't know, none of us ever know. My son doesn't have anxiety or depression (he does have "a jacked up grill" and horrible eyesight, but we're working on both of those). Genetics are an absolute crap shoot. We all know that. Every time you make a choice to have a baby you run the risk of something being wrong and that sometimes could be a whole lot worse than what my daughter deals with every single day.

Would I have had Megan had I known she would have anxiety and depression?

Of course. A million times yes.

Am I heartbroken that she has to suffer?

Of course. A million times yes. I would do anything in my power to make her life easier. So I do. I make sure she has therapy. She takes medication. She has coping skills and abilities far beyond most people her age (her coping skills are actually way better than mine). She does well in school. She does well and is well liked at her job. She has friends. She has a life. She has a wonderful life.

She is a huge reason that I have a wonderful life. She is a huge reason that I get out of bed every day, even when my own depression and anxiety hurt. And they do hurt. Some days worse than others.

Whatever she chooses though, I know it will be what is right for her. She is not me. She's not even an extension of me. She's just one of the best things I've ever done. She is 100% Megan.

Which is exactly what I always, ALWAYS want her to be. Broken brain and all.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Just for today

A lot of people who have met me within the last year or two don't realize I have twins.

They know I have children (or adults,or whatever). They know I have a son and a daughter. They know that they attend the local community college. They know that they have jobs. They know they are politically active, love to read, are smart and funny and all manner of things. Believe me when I tell you that I rarely shut up about how proud I am of those two, so people know they exist. They just usually don't realize they are twins and are often surprised when they discover that, oh! They are the same age!

They don't know because it doesn't matter. Not really.

People don't know that they were premature. That they were born far too soon and far too small and I sat for so many hours in little rocking chairs in the NICU with silent tears running down my cheeks, willing them to just hang on. They don't know all of the conversation that I had with other moms and dads who were sitting in those same chairs, or pacing back and forth, praying the same prayers.

They don't know that I was the mom there who was twenty-two years old and alone. They don't know all the terrible things that my ex-husband said to me while I was pregnant, and after. They don't know that the sunny, funny man I'm married to isn't the biological father of the two kids he hugs good night every night.

They don't know because it doesn't matter.

I haven't forgotten them, mind you. I will never forget these things and there are a million more that I will also never forget. They are burned into my heart like a scar and they aren't going to go away. Not ever.

I don't talk about them. I don't dwell on them. Hell, I'm probably my therapists worst nightmare because I just don't even deal with some of them (I'M WORKING ON IT OKAY). I have to deal with what is in front of me, right now, today.

We all do.

It's comforting if you really think about it. We can't live in the past. We shouldn't WANT to live in the past. It should stay where it is. We should think about it and try to do better. We can't get stuck there though because the things that happened? We got through them. We lived. We survived. We got stronger. We got braver.

Do we still have the scars? Of course. Forever. But it doesn't define who we are. It doesn't define who we can be in the future.

If twenty years ago you told me that I would have the life I have today, I would have never believed you. Ever. I had no idea that this would be my life.

There is no "good old days" for me. There never will be. Sure, I miss certain times and places. Not long ago I drove past the daycare my children used to attend and I could not stop crying for thirty minutes. That's okay. It's okay to miss those times when they were little and sweet and listened to everything I had to say. It's not okay to never move past those times.

Today is great too, if you'll let it be. The world might be crappy around you (and it is, I know) but you can do better. YOU can be better.

And you should...because today is what we have.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Oh, this love.

I have something to admit.

I talk about you behind your back.

I know that "they" (whoever they are) say that you should never, ever talk about your spouse behind their back, but honey? I do. A lot.

All the time.

I say that you have the best heart of anyone I've ever met. I say that you are a big teddy bear. I say that you a better person than I could ever dream of being. I say that many things in your life are just really, painfully unfair and you keep smiling. I say all of these things about you.

Sometimes, not enough, I say them to your face. I say, "I'm really glad I married you" and "I'm really glad we have been able to work through some hard days" and "Man, you are so darn cute".

I will try to be better about saying all of those things directly to you.

I've known you since I was twenty-four and now I am forty-one. Forty-one is not old, but somewhere along the way I have realized that we do not have the luxury of time. I don't like that fact I hate it. There is a bitterness in that truth. You and I are both tough people. We have withstood many tests throughout our time with one another and clung, sometimes stubbornly, together. It's been nearly twenty years, which is ridiculous one on hand and on the other hand feels like five minutes.

Time is a thief, though. One that cannot be controlled.

I try not to dwell on that though. I try to take every day as it comes and I try not to worry about the future too much.

Most of the time that's easier said than done.

I keep trying.

My work is hard. My schedule is what can be best described as "punishing". Some of this is my fault and some it is just because life works that way for some people. One of the things I push myself to do is think of the little things that brighten my life. Like coffee and my big round bathtub and all the pretty clothes in my closet.

Every day of my life I look forward to you coming home. The best part of my day is when we lay in bed together, watching old episodes of Law and Order or whatever is on Adult Swim. We laugh and talk and it's the one of the only parts of my day that feels real. The work, the exercise, the endless meetings...none of that really matters that much as far as forever goes. If I died tomorrow my work would replace me immediately. If I miss a workout the world will keep spinning.

The time I have with you though, that is something different. Precious. Irreplaceable.

I hope you will forgive me, for talking about you so much. Knowing you, I'm pretty sure you would. You've forgiven me much worse offenses.

I will try though, to tell you all of this to your face. As often as I can. For as long as we have.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Meanwhile, at the gym

Guy next to me on the leg press who looks like he probably really enjoys things like arguing with the television, saying abusive things to women, and pretending he's really fit when actually he probably played JV Football in high school and is still holding on to his "Glory Days". Also, looks like his name might be Bill, so let's just call him Bill (with no offense intended to any of the nice men I know named Bill): *struggles to press 135lbs*

Me: *ignores him and focuses on what I'm doing*

Bill: *gets up from the leg press, wipes the machine off, and stares at himself adoringly in the mirrors*

Me: *gets on the leg press machine*

Bill: WELL! Hey there little lady! You need some help with that machine? I can show you how work it.

Me: *staring directly at Bill, taking my eyes away only for a second to reset the pin to 210lb and then pressing*: Nope.

Get out of here with that noise Bill.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


"Sing me a song, babe."

He says that to me, nearly every night of our lives. He lays his head on my lap so I can scratch his back. I sing quietly so no one else can hear. Only him. I don't sing for anyone but him.

Depending on what I sing, sometimes he chimes in. Sometimes when I think he's fallen asleep and I quietly finish my song, he'll start singing his.

I wanna live with a cinnamon girl

I could be happy the rest of my life

With a cinnamon girl.

A dreamer of pictures I run in the night

You see us together, chasing the moonlight,

My cinnamon girl.

"You love cinnamon!" he reminds me. "It's your favorite."

It's true. It is my favorite. He knows. It makes me laugh that he reminds me.

(Note: I don't think I was what the song writers had in mind. Just saying)

Sometimes we talk late into the night about what our retirement will look like. What the kids will end up being when they grow up. If the kids will ever move out (okay, he is mostly the one that asks that, not me). We talk about the cabin in the woods we want to build one day, about the hikes we'll take together. We talk about how quiet it will be. How peaceful. We talk about Ginger and what a good girl she is. How we will feel when she isn't part of our lives anymore. We talk about our careers and what we'll do next. Where we want to live, where we want to travel.  Sometimes our whole world feels very big.

A lot of times, though, our whole world is so very small. It's full of "How was your day?" and "What do you want for dinner?" and "Do you have Zumba tonight?" and "Who is working?". The other night we were bantering back and forth as a family, as we do, and Jason smiled in a very satisfied way and said, "I love how we tolerate each other."

I was almost a little insulted, but the more I thought about it the funnier it was.

I wanna tolerate you forever, babe.

I'm glad you picked me and I picked you, fourteen years ago today. I love every adventure we've had, even the crap ones.

I'm glad I get to have this life with you.

It's so delightfully tolerable.