Endlessly Restless

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wished I could fly. I think most of us do. We watch superheroes shoot through the sky like comets and part of us soars with them.

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Ever since I was a little girl I’ve wished I could fly. I think most of us do. We watch superheroes shoot through the sky like comets and part of us soars with them. There is something so beautiful and fantastic about the idea of wings. To think one’s body can master the heavens in such a way. Ironically, I have a terrific fear of heights and am horribly claustrophobic, so the only means of flight afforded me- the airplane- I cannot enjoy. I like to think if I could control my flight pattern, my speed and my direction, things would be different. That if I were able to stretch myself across the sky unencumbered by the limitations of my body I’d feel free.

Unfortunately my body and I don’t always get along. I may dream of flying, yet I am forever attached to the earth as I have no actual wings. Being bipolar is like having a faulty connector in my brain that is irreplaceable and therefore the rest of the circuitry is continually affected by it. That is what it means to have a chronic condition. The medication I take may keep the symptoms of my illness in check but it is not a cure. I have been on a rollercoaster of medications for most of my adult life and my body has suffered their various effects to a significant degree. When not battling these effects I am battling the effects of the disorder which are physical as well. It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin.

Of the many medication side effects, among the very worst of them is restless legs. Anyone who has ever had this knows how terrible it is. Imagine having invisible wires attached to the nerves in your legs that are sending electric currents nonstop and as a result your legs have an unrelenting need to move. The feeling can extend itself up your spine and into your shoulders. This will give you some idea of the horror of restless legs. When I’m suffering from it, I find myself continually rocking back and forth and moving my shoulders like a strange clockwork creature being remote controlled by some other being. It’s like some bizarre kind of torture that these medications which are so effective at controlling the psychotic symptoms of bipolar disorder cause the person taking them to go crazy dealing with their side effects. For anyone with restless legs, always feeling like there are electric currents running through their body, one has to wonder how do they relax? How do they calm down? There are medications that combat this awful feeling however they have their own side effects; grogginess and fatigue among them.

As you might guess this hasn’t exactly made parenting the easiest thing in the world for me to do. Taking a hot bath does help, which I often do, adding lavender or chamomile epsom salts to help calm my agitated mind and body. I find myself in these moments of quiet tensing and relaxing my poor legs while worrying about the smallest details of my daughter’s world. My sons having grown to adolescence and living out their day to day lives during the school year miles away in Oregon, I am spared the kind of obsessive worrying over them that I used to engage in when they were younger. Such is not the case with their younger sister. At the forefront of my worries is whether Alice will manifest a version of bipolar disorder at some point in her life. It’s impossible not to fear this outcome and yet I obviously can’t know what may or may not happen, the future is indeed a mystery. In light of this truth my mind leaps to all the things I may have some element of control over and I obsess in my mind over them. Whether I’m doing enough for her in those areas. Whether or not I measure up to some unnamed ambiguous standard. It’s as if there is some ratio between Alice’s well-being and my well-being. Alice’s happiness and my happiness. Alice’s success and my success. I know this is not unique to me.

For most moms, it’s hard not to hyper-focus on some aspect of our children’s lives, using it as the barometer for our own worth as mothers. Even those ones of us who consider ourselves “casual” parents, if we really soul search and dig deep we’ll find ourselves admitting that we too keep our self worth to at least some degree tied up in our children’s accomplishments. Why is this? Is this even a bad thing? Isn’t it a naturally occurring phenomena that ensures a child gets the right support and motivation they need? Who decides what a “good mom” is and how she should act and what or how much she should give to her children? Obviously the edges are clear, at least to a degree. We use those edges to ease our fears that we are failing. In cases of abuse or neglect, or the opposite end of the spectrum complete indulgence, we can point to those moms and say ha! That’s not me! That means I must be doing a good job, right? Right?!! If only it were that easy. There is no black and white when it comes to parenting. The shadows and shades of grey exist for all of us.

Ultimately we have to accept ourselves and our limitations. We have to realize that there will be days, weeks, months or even years where we feel like we are failing our children in some way and we need to hear we are NOT utter failures. I had tea with a good friend recently who talked about letting go of her shame over needing to hear she was doing a good job. She called it “living for the kudos.” I think all mothers have that inner craving, that constant need to know we are succeeding in giving our children the very best of ourselves. In the same way my legs need to move, my heart needs to hear, needs to know without a doubt that my daughter feels loved and supported by me. It keeps me going, keeps me fighting the good fight. As the K.D. Lang song goes “constant craving has always been…” Perhaps that constant craving is essential for all of us to wake up in the morning and live life to its fullest. For our children and for ourselves.

As I wrote previously I have always wished I could fly. That is what makes children so amazing. Their imaginations. I watch Alice play and she really can fly. This morning she was all messy hair, beautiful stubbornness, wild child. I was trying to get her ready to go and she picked up her fairy wand with its rainbow ribbon and was instantly a fairy. “You’re the fairy mommy and I’m the fairy baby and we can fly together! Can you put my wings on?” I thought for a minute about saying no and then changed my mind. I wanted to fly this morning. She pointed to her cloth wings my Aunt gave her for her birthday. I helped her put them on and she took off down the hallway laughing, her ribbon streaming behind her, arms outstretched. “Come on mommy!”

“I’m coming!” I yelled to her and then stretched my arms out running after her. It lasted only a little while but that was enough. I forgot about my legs, my failings, my troubles and everything else tying me down. I flew this morning. My daughter set me free. She gave me my wings.

Alice VS the Unicoirn T-shirt

My daughter is often stubborn. I have to remind myself to look closely at her, to kneel down and look into her eyes at eye level.

There is something about kneeling down and looking into a child’s eyes that aligns us with their perspective. Suddenly their quivering chin, the tears on their flushed cheeks over some trivial matter have a new and relatable purpose. The matter is no longer trivial. Our compassion grows.

Raising children is a tough business. Not because humans are somehow flawed until reaching adulthood, but because the world is demanding and we as parents feel a great burden in both navigating a demanding world and wanting our children to be able to navigate that same demanding world. One has to wonder, should we put that pressure on them? On one side we say yes because God forbid they fall through society’s cracks and we are left helpless to defend them as adults. On the other hand we don’t want to harden them as the world is hard. We don’t want them becoming liquid cement and turning the world into a concrete jungle with no spaces left to breathe, to stretch one’s wings and fly.

My daughter is often stubborn. I have to remind myself to look closely at her, to kneel down and look into her eyes at eye level. It keeps me from “flying off the handle” so to speak. It keeps me grounded. I can see my eyes in her eyes. I can see my own stubborn nature. I can see her father’s mischievous grin. I am reminded of a time when I questioned everything, when I challenged the answers my parents would give me. Alice is more stubborn than I ever was and as difficult as she can be, I relish that streak of stubbornness because I am less afraid of stifling her spirit. If anything unjust comes her way it brings out the fight in her and I love to see it. I know my daughter will never become liquid cement.

Sometimes as parents we just want things to be easy. We want the elements of life to add up in neat little boxes. We want our kids to eat this, wear this, do it this way. Because shouldn’t life be easy every now and then? Don’t we deserve a break ONCE IN A WHILE?! That is usually when our kids decide Oh no. Hell no. You’re not boxing me in and checking me off like that and good luck trying! This morning was one of those mornings. I just wanted everything to go smoothly. I wanted to drink coffee. I wanted my muse to sit blithely on my shoulder telling me exactly what to write. I wanted Alice to wear her unicorn T-shirt. Was I being rational? No. I just wanted those things because I wanted them. Because I deserved them damnit! But did I really deserve them? What does that even mean?? What situation could I pluck from life and say this should be mine? As though there was a list made when I was born of “life situations Kimkoa deserves.” No that list doesn’t exist and no, none of those things were going to happen. I got to drink tea. I struggled through yet another morning of writing and re-writing. Alice wanted and wore her grey sweater, not her unicorn T-shirt. Why? Because the sweater is soft. I tried reasoning with her. The unicorn T-shirt is soft too. No, she wanted the grey sweater. I had in my mind the last time she wore her ballerina skirt and pink tights and how happy she was in that sparkly unicorn T-shirt. I wanted to recreate the outfit. It went something like this:

“Just this one time, please be reasonable! Ali, you love your unicorn T-shirt!”

“No, I want soft clothes! That’s not soft! I want my DADDY!”

“FINE! No Easter candy after school if you won’t get dressed!”

*Hysterical crying*

“Here, Alice touch the T-shirt see? It’s soft and you wore it last time. You need to listen and follow directions. ”

“I want my GREY SWEATER!”

I stopped of course and realized how I was the unreasonable one and how she was curled up in a ball kicking her clothes away over something so small, so ridiculously unimportant. I had to be the one to let go, which was so hard to do because I wanted her to look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way and she could feel it. She could feel that pressure coming down on her beautiful, sleepy little head and responded exactly the way I would have at her age. With a resounding NO WAY.

As adults standing up for ourselves is just as difficult. The world says look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way and we feel that immense pressure coming down on us terrifically. Once we are adults there is no one to stand as intermediary for us the way our parents did when we were younger. We are left to fend for ourselves and the world can indeed feel heartless at times. That’s why we have to let our kids stand up for themselves sometimes when they are little so they know how to do it when they are older. So they can believe in themselves and in their abilities. It takes real guts to stand up to such a force when you are a child and it takes guts as an adult to not just let our children spread their wings but to spread our own. We have to dig deep and remember our childhood selves who were strong enough to shout no at our moms and the unicorn T-shirt because we want that soft grey sweater and we damn well deserve it. It takes guts to be the ones we believe in, the ones worth looking up to, the ones we hope our children will become one day.

Stuffed Animal Conference

I was picking each animal up, and putting it on her freshly made bed, and the little girl in me realized I could do whatever I wanted with her stuffed animals.

My daughter popped awake at 5:30 this morning. She was part of the alarm of the day, which is always set for me, the one who doesn’t need to be up that early. Basically I’m used to my husband’s alarm going off intermittently from 5:30 to 6am (the James Bond theme song) during which time I get up, get my natural energy caffeine substitute since I cannot have coffee, check email, facade book (no that was not a typo) and the gram, or simply lay there wishing his alarm were set for 6 while he continues sleeping. My mother is the same way, I hear her alarm go off and she will turn it off and disappear back into dreamland which is something I’ve never been able to do. Anyways, my daughter decided today was the day I needed to start mothering two minutes after I opened my eyes. At least I was prepared for her jumping into bed, hearing her voice in the hallway “I’m thirsty!” Lately she’s been waking up in the wee hours of the morning and stealthily creeping into my room and then suddenly leaping onto me “I want to sleep with you!” Then of course she proceeds to beat me and my husband up for the rest of the night; a punch to the eye, a kick to the balls…she likes to keep us on our toes.

So as I stumbled out of bed and made my way upstairs to get her water I realized how much that half hour of just me and the quiet house meant in the morning. Even though Alice is in preschool now and I have time during the day, I assign myself work to do and don’t consider it “free time.” What many people don’t realize is how easy it is to get behind when you are “your own boss.” If you don’t do the laundry you end up living under it. If you don’t grocery shop you are at the store every day and dinner is always late. If you don’t clean…well we all know that story. When I was trying to do everything myself and take care of all three kids full-time I slid into a special kind of insanity I don’t even have a name for. Really my days are manageable for the first time in a long time. That being said, living with two adults who work full-time I feel a great need to account for my time at home and when not writing I am either engaged in some kind of chore or running errands or taking the occasional nap when needed (No I won’t apologize for that! Bipolar people need their sleep!) I also spend time pacing because that is how I think. My son does this also. In fact if I have not already written what I am going to write in my head I like to write at the counter so I can walk around it between paragraphs. (Yes you can laugh at that image.) The earliest part of the day is different though. Hushed and dark, before the world has called for me I swallow the beauty of my own existence in huge gulps. That time is mine to relish or squander as I please, regardless of the expectations of others. It is not stolen, nor gifted me but earned fairly and earnestly and I do notice when it is infringed upon.

After I got Alice her water I tried to start the day with her and it did not go well. Alice, like every 4 and 3/4 year old (the 3/4 is extremely important) is less than cooperative when tired and kept insisting she did NOT have to go potty. I of course insisted she did and as every mother knows that is not a battle one can win. Ultimately I lost my patience and yelled, giving her bottom a useless smack. I felt instantly terrible and she continued to insist she DID NOT HAVE TO GO and needless to say she ended up cuddling her father who missed out on fifteen of his cherished snooze minutes. The battle over and lost, I was left wanting to feel proactive and instead feeling defeated. So I chose to let her boss her own body (she eventually did go potty of her own accord, and had a dry nap, then had an accident later in day go figure!) and I got her dressed, hair done, eating cheese and oranges and watching a show all before 6:30. I had time to kill so I decided to make the beds and put away her laundry. After making our bed I started work in her room and something happened. It was a small thing and yet not a small thing. It was a lightbulb moment that would not turn on for me until later this afternoon.

Alice, like every little girl, has a stuffed animal menagerie. Having missed out on my time from this morning I inadvertently took it back by creating a something in her room. I was picking each animal up, and putting it on her freshly made bed, and the little girl in me realized I could do whatever I wanted with her stuffed animals. So I started lining them up and arranging them sweetly along the side of her mattress. I was putting one with the other and before I knew it there they were holding court on her bed. I heard the bathroom door open as my husband having finished his shower began making his way down the hall. “Hey babe, I called, look what I did for Ali.” I felt proud and sparkly eyed at the sweetness of the picture.

“It looks like they’re having a conference.” He said, smiling.

“You’re right. It does. A stuffed animal conference.” We hugged and I felt a little better about the day. What happened next I hadn’t planned on. After driving Alice to school and finding the door locked I realized it was professional development day and school was closed. What? Huh? Oops. Alice was thrilled. I had plans that were suddenly not plans any longer. The day had its ups and downs. I lost and won other battles. But specialness still won out. We had spent the morning upstairs, a kaleidoscope of cartoons, play dough and a variety of snacks and I was writing this post in between those parenting moments. Suddenly I remembered “The Stuffed Animal Conference.” “Alice, I did something special in your room!” I wasn’t sure why I hadn’t thought to show her before.

“Really? Can I go see? Should I close my eyes?!” She was so excited.

“Yes of course, hold my hand.” I led her down the stairs and into her room.

“Open wide!”

“WOW!” She was as excited to see them as I was to show her and she began adding to the group from her toy box, it was adorable. I thought suddenly oh, she wanted my time. The lightbulb clicked on. The one thing every battle with her has in common is that it makes everything take longer. Today I gave her the gift of my time and the most special part of “The Stuffed Animal Conference” was that it was spontaneous and given without expectation or request. It didn’t even take that long, but it was my time and she knew it. So often as parents we want to give our kids so much…when all they really want is time with us. It doesn’t have to be a long time either but it has to be genuine. Not side glances they have to steal from us while competing with a computer screen or an iPhone. Real, honest-to-goodness time. The funny thing is, that doesn’t change even as we get older. As adults we compete for each other’s time just as often…and we make just as much noise when we don’t get it. 

Motherhood

Heavy wine head
Exhausted
Hot baby knees
Love
Little fist sweaty curls breath
Anxious warm restless
Moving just enough to startle
Nonsense whispers coughing
Stubborn feet pressed against thighs
Soft blanket snores humid dark
Air purifier whirring
Laughter behind a closed door
Sudden joy.

Kimkoa 2017

Pregnant Toys

Her toys keep getting pregnant and giving birth to each other. This is not how her brothers played. None of their toys were ever pregnant. They were too busy shooting things and doing tricks.

Today I wrote a lengthy post about raising children. Then I accidentally deleted it. After frantically searching my computer for the file I found the first draft of a blog post entry when I intended to start it a year ago. I had forgotten all about it. The memory of it is stunning. I guess some things are meant to be. Here it is. I’ll rewrite the other one tomorrow…

Alice has just finished the bath that I started. It usually goes that way, I go into the bath to clear my head and she finds me and jumps in.

Well I have too much to say as usual and no way to organize it so this may just be a wasted effort. But I can’t really think about what else to do, so I’m writing anyways. if you don’t like it just stop reading right now.

I don’t know what success means. I really don’t. There are a lot of successful people I don’t like and pastimes that I guess are popular that I just don’t care about.

I think searching for God matters. And laughter. And taking care of children. Not much else.

My husband is an unusually good man. I don’t know if I deserve him, I haven’t decided yet. There is a lot I haven’t decided yet. I haven’t decided if this is worth reading or not. That should tell you something.

I think a lot of things I shouldn’t say. And I say things I shouldn’t have thought of. A lot of it is funny though so it kind of makes it ok.

Alice is insisting she is pregnant. I can hear her through the door. She is telling her father “Yes I am! I am pregnant!” His calm denials make me smile. No, he says. Mommy was pregnant with you. His voice is always kinder and higher pitched when she confronts him with Life’s miracles. “Huh?” Her honest wonder hurts somehow.

Her toys keep getting pregnant and giving birth to each other. This is not how her brothers played. None of their toys were ever pregnant. They were too busy shooting things and doing tricks.

I’m trying to figure out if I was this bold at her age. She is 3 and 1/2. I think so. Which terrifies me now that I am older and so easily contained.

I relish in her defiance. I secretly rejoice each time she screams “No!” Those are my screams I think.

I like to think of my daughter ruling the playground with an iron fist. Like the gangster I dreamed would rescue me one day.

A badass in her mother’s name. A lioness.

Rainbow

Sailing on the waters of change
Waves as catalysts
Sea foam dreams
Greenish-blue froth of truth around the edges of my mouth
Secrets bubbling out lightly,
In a damp, salty spray
A swift and arching newness of life,

As a mighty Rainbow.

I Believe in Spring

What do you believe?
Here we are on the eve of Spring with Easter fast approaching. Is your home awash with pastel rabbits and pigs? Porcelain ducks with perpetually smiling beaks?

What do you believe?

Here we are on the eve of Spring with Easter fast approaching. Is your home awash with pastel rabbits and pigs? Porcelain ducks with perpetually smiling beaks? Have you hung wooden signs welcoming the new season replete with weathered flowers and baskets of eggs? Have you bought jelly beans and plastic eggs and hid them in the closet next to the yellow easter basket with its white and milk chocolate bunnies, Mn’Ms and glittering sneakers? Do you already have pink and green plastic grass tangled in your shoes? Have you ordered your daughter’s dress? And when her shoes didn’t come did you order another pair? And when THEY were delayed also did you overnight some refusing to give in? Are you getting up at the crack of Dawn on Sunday to hunt for eggs, then going to church ALL DAY LONG and then eating lamb until you pass out in a melee of embroidered skirts, glittering heels and half eaten chocolate rabbits.

What do you believe?

Is it Easter with its eggs and rabbits and obvious fertility symbolism? Or is it the resurrection of Jesus Christ who suffered and died on the cross and then three days later rose again? Because the miracle of His life is the miracle of our lives. Spring is the beginning of all things. New life emerges. Our tables are covered with delicate green buds of every vegetable and flower you can think of. My daughter loves to walk around slowly inspecting each tender leaf, exclaiming “This one is bigger, I can tell!” She has a Hello Kitty Chia Pet who had slimy seeds for days until finally it sprouted a thick green afro which my daughter finds immensely pleasurable. “Look at her hair” She cries. “She likes to watch me eat!” I think how strange and simple her world is. I think of how beautiful she is and yet how she was born of blood and pain. How all of my children greeted the world in a river of blood and pain. I didn’t notice the blood. I forgot the pain. I held new life in my arms and it was heaven. I think of the blood and the pain of Jesus, that which he endured. Whether you think he is just a children’s fable or the true Son of God he represents new beginnings, new life, and the conquering of death. Just as the tulip flower is cut from the bulb and the petals fall, so the bulb lies dormant in winter and will bloom again in a glorious God-given springtime.

What do you believe?

Do you believe in luck? Do you believe in atonement for sins committed in this life? Do you believe you’ll be rewarded for your good deeds on earth, or in Heaven? Do you believe somethings are worth dying for? According to an article in Mother Nature’s Network, in 17th century Amsterdam a single tulip bulb called the Semper Agusta was enough to buy one of the grandest homes and people went literally mad for them. It is a truly striking bloom, pure white with streaks of garnet running through it like blood. Surprisingly however its rare beauty was due to a virus. Esther Inglis-Arkell wrote in The Virus that Destroyed the Dutch Economy that the beauty of the Semper Agusta is due to a Tulip Breaking Virus transmitted by aphids. The pigmentation is changed due to a altered distribution of anthocyanin who’s color differs depending on the PH of the surrounding soil. This information was not known until the 1900s however, long after “Tulip fever” had collapsed the dutch economy. Botanists now breed a different kind of tulip, one that mimics the broken relics of classic paintings and ruined lives. By selectively breeding “Rembrant Tulips”(named for the Dutch painter who captured so many “broken tulips”) with colors that dive and careen against a placid white background we are able to catch a glimpse of how beautiful a broken thing can be.

Purified
Clean white heart
Soundless liquid pouring
Something odious filling the room
And again breath like cold meat.
Prayers raised fluttering on anxious wings
And again atonement for the first sin
A heaviness falls, a pressing.
A fire left burning, almost ashes and charred wood.
My throat closes as I open my mouth,
Bitter truths rush in past the barrier.
Choking, choking on my reality,
Gasping in a windowless airless room.
I feel the blood between my legs
And I think the red streaks on my white nightgown
Are beautiful… like the Broken Tulip.

Following the Leader

…for those of us who were born with fire burning just beneath our skin and hearts that yearn for a different kind of life, the growing up and becoming process is not so easy. We too crave acceptance but not for a false and crudely designed version of ourselves.

Today is all about the inner critic. All about that cruel voice inside each of us that endlessly criticizes everything we say and do. That tears down the walls of our fragile houses of self esteem and leaves nothing but rubble in its wake. I have found that the more weak and spineless a thing is, the more soulless and wicked are its acts. It is as if the inner critic can only become strong through destruction. That like a snake it suffocates our creative expression and swallows our psyche whole.

For so long I was a slave to the inner critic. So many of us are, learning to be that way to get by, to survive. Always editing myself, editing my words, my clothes, even my hairstyles. Looking at pictures of me over the years however, I am literally blown away. What I find arresting, completely astonishing actually, is how beautiful I looked on those days when there were accidental lapses in my steely control. When my hair fanned out in a proud mass of curls. When my clothes didn’t match perfectly. When I had a wide open, un-sanitized smile.

I know I am not unique when it comes to this. I know we are all battling this same horrible demon, usually planted there in middle school if not beforehand. We are somehow taught that to succeed in life we must assimilate. That “following the leader” is the key to a lifetime of happiness and anything else will bring about sure ruin. Some of us can and do succeed early and often and following in the socially acceptable footsteps of our predecessors comes naturally. But for those of us who were born with fire burning just beneath our skin and hearts that yearn for a different kind of life, the growing up and becoming process is not so easy. We too crave acceptance but not for a false and crudely designed version of ourselves. We want who we truly are to be that which is loved. In order for that to happen an immense courage must be summoned. Enough courage to burst through the stone wall of the inner critic and embrace the mountain top of freedom. We may be afraid of the drop but we must trust our own instincts and abilities. We must believe we can and will stand firmly rooted, letting the inner critic topple over the edge forever.

Easy to say, not so easy to do. It is truly a divine act to become one’s own master. To form one’s own destiny. To give oneself the gift of choice. It is an act of love. The wheel of fate will turn regardless of whether one is riding in the cart above or caught below between the spokes. In reality the inner critic is an illusion. A mechanism we create and then use to judge ourselves based upon what we imagine are the standards for love and acceptance. But, as previously mentioned, any affection gained while we are not being true to our natures is by definition false and only adds to the gaping hole of self loathing which feeds the inner critic. True love is just that, true. Until we love and accept ourselves truly as we are it can never be found. True love of oneself comes before everything else. It is the foundation for a beautiful life. My father would always say you teach others how to treat you. How very right he was. By loving yourself truly, others will love you the same way, “following the leader” so to speak. How much better to lead them towards joy in the hopes that they too will one day learn to love themselves and throw their own inner critics over the edge into the abyss where they belong.

Priceless

I’m not your bitch…
I’m not your candlestick either,
I won’t just light up for you.
I’m tired of doing tricks
On my back.
I’m not your pet,
You can’t tie me to a tree
And throw me bones.
I will never lay down at your feet,
I will stay a wild thing,
I will never jump up and lick your face, just to hear everyone’s so
Proud of you
Proud of you
Proud of you.
I would rather drown in a sea of my own undoing, than fly with the wings you made me,
Suffocating in a sulphuric air I cannot breathe.
I am worth more than anything you could give me…
I am
priceless.

 

 

 

Pukey Cat

My daughter woke up this morning with a stomach ache. At 6:13am. Because today is Saturday and no one had to be anywhere. Of course I was already awake because my cat also had a stomach ache and coughed up a huge hairball. Apparently he wanted me to know all about it because he kept jumping on my legs and climbing onto my chest and my head. He was also trying to eat a bag he found under the bed and then poking his claws into the side of the mattress making all kinds of ridiculous noise. Since this was all going on at around 3 o’clock in the morning I was not happy and put him in the living room and shut the door. So of course he proceeded to scratch the door and whine until I let him back in. My husband slept through everything of course, snoring like an oncoming train. Lovely, I thought. All I need is grandma and the dog down here and we can really have a party! Binx (my cat) continued to climb on me and eventually fell asleep on my legs. Ah, I thought, finally some peace! I had just fallen back asleep when my daughter woke up “Mama my tummy hurts.” I considered my options for about a minute and then I let her play with my phone. That’s why you don’t let them have it all the time. So when you really need it, they are engrossed by it and it’s not something they’ve become accustomed to and are almost bored by…Of course she played for a few minutes and then I had to turn the volume down. Her room is right next to ours and I cannot sleep to the sound of high pitched cartoon voices. Then she had to go potty, “Mama I have to go potty!” then all this commotion woke the cat back up who resumed trying to climb on my head just as Nick let out a loud snore.

“God****!! I am just trying to sleep and it’s F***** impossible with this family, even the cat won’t let me sleep!” Needless to say I was still tired.

Well, Nick was kind enough to get up with Alice and Binx and let me sleep a bit longer, although since we don’t have our curtains up yet having just moved in, I was up with the sun anyways. Then it was coffee and tea time; coffee for grandma and Nick, tea for me since too much caffeine leaches the lithium right out of the bloodstream. Grandma had her usual eggs and tomatoes for breakfast, Nick had his usual nothing and I had my usual round of pills followed by oatmeal and more pills. Good morning bipolar how are you today? Alice and I usually have the same thing for breakfast, (except for the pills) AND she always has an organic gala apple cut into slices. Today Daddy was driving the ship and he didn’t cut it up for her, hence she was forced to eat the skin. It was so hard for me not to rescue her because I could hear her protests over the whole apple he offered her. But I knew if I got up and cut it for her she would just eat the middles and avoid the skin which is the healthiest part (mamas you feel me!!) This is one of the many reasons why Daddies are so important too, sometimes they can sense when a child is ready to move onto the next step. When it’s time to stop babying them and let them grow up a little. I gave Nick a silent high five and dozed back off for a few more minutes.

After breakfast it was meal planning and making the grocery list with grandma. We just got an instant pot and we are trying to learn it. As both of us are seasoned cooks, we are having to modernize ourselves in our attempt to adapt to it. I experienced success yesterday with a beef stew. I was actually pretty impressed with the results. My first try I had to take the meal out and finish it on the stove. I learned it’s helpful to read the user manual beforehand.

Done with the list we hit the road. Nick stayed home with Alice to clean up her bedroom. We didn’t have a lot of time, Alice’s friend Athena was coming for the afternoon. I wasn’t all that worried though because my mother in the grocery store is like a force of nature. Especially when she has a list and a time frame. It’s a truly a sight to behold. Just stay out of her way.

An aside: Today is St. Patrick’s Day so my mother is making corned beef and cabbage for dinner. I’m writing upstairs in the kitchen since Nick is watching wonder woman downstairs. She keeps telling me to add things into my blog. “Put in your blog about how much you love writing on a beautiful afternoon in the valley while your mom cooks corned beef and cabbage!”

“Ok mom.” She drops a carrot and I kid her about throwing carrots around the kitchen.

“Add it into your blog! Write it’s a beautiful life in the valley with my mother making corned beef and cabbage and throwing the carrots!” She is proud of her idea.

“I’m going to write about how you keep telling me to write things in my blog about you!” This makes her laugh. A few minutes later she tells me to put something else in my blog. Because this is what she does now and as a matter of fact I am putting it in blog after all. There you go mom.

We were shopping and my mom was on a roll when I got the text from Nick. Alice threw up. Oh no, not again. The acrid smell of just puked macaroni and cheese took me days to get out of her mattress the last time she was pukey cat. I called him and he put me on speaker phone. Alice was in the bathtub. “I’m not sick!” She yelled from the tub.

“Yes you are, you just threw up” Nick said this to me as well as to her.

“NO!!” My poor kiddo she just wants her friend to come over I thought.

“Are you sure it’s not just something she ate?” I asked this knowing the answer.

“I wish you could be here to see her in person.”

“Yeah I figured,” I was as bummed as Alice.

“I’m not sick!” Alice continued to protest against what she saw as an unfair authoritarian governing body. I hope she never loses that fighting spirit I thought smiling in spite of everything.

After texting with Athena’s mom we set up a future sleepover to assuage the sorrows of both girls over the cancelled playdate. It will be Alice’s first sleepover and I’m just blown away by how popular she is already. I suppose it’s not surprising and I’m so glad, it just opens up a whole new world of joys and fears for me. My daughter is pure sunshine although she can raise holy hell when the mood strikes her. I’m teaching her to use her powers wisely.

Back at the house I was sautéing asparagus to go with the meatballs I just microwaved. “Can I have a meatball?” Alice asked me this and I sighed, knowing it’s a bad idea and also knowing if I don’t she’ll scream until she throws up anyways. It’s a no win situation. (Don’t judge, sick children are crazed irrational beasts not to be trifled with!) So I gave her the meatball knowing that was not the last I would see of it. She ate it and didn’t ask for a second one which I took as a bad sign. She reached for an apple however, and washed it herself in the sink and took a big bite (Good job Daddy!) a little while later, I was helping grandma organize the cupboards in the kitchen and it had been just long enough for me to forget to worry about Alice and the return of her meatball. Suddenly Alice, who was right beside me, popped open like a champagne bottle and puke flew out of her. The meatball! Immediately the dog ran into the kitchen and grandma grabbed her around the collar pulling her back

“Nick we need your help, Alice is throwing up!” Grandma yelled from the kitchen her arms around the dog. “I can’t do anything I have Abby.”

“Is she in the kitchen?” Nick always asks the important questions first.

“Yes!” I was momentarily frozen having to wait for her to stop exploding long enough to race across the carpet to the bathroom. Not wanting to repeat macaroni and cheese night (picture me knee deep in a bathtub full of bubbles and puked up macaroni and cheese with Alice covered head to toe in the stuff. Even in her hair. Good holy Lord it was nasty!) I finally found a second to grab her up and run past grandma and the dog into the  guest bathroom where my poor girl could finish puking in peace. Motherhood is so glamorous.

As I’m finishing this blog all is calm momentarily and one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite songwriters has come sailing through the living room, making me feel sixteen again. The sheer potency of her music always makes me catch my breath. It literally pulls me out of my life and thrusts me into another world, another reality. Listening to the song which is China by Tori Amos I think of how easy it is to feel far away from the ones you love, how for so long when Alice was sick I was the only one there. Or worse when both of us were sick I was still the only one there. Nick would come home from epically long days and it was so hard for us to find that common ground. He’d leave his world of work knowing he’d have be back in the blink of an eye and enter my world of the home and family which was also my work and there was nowhere to meet in the middle. So many of us find ourselves in that place and the strain of it is written so clearly like tattoos all over our bodies. All over our faces. Tori says it best…

“China all the way to New York I can feel the distance getting close. You’re right next to me, but I need an airplane, I can feel the distance as you breathe. Sometimes I think you want me to touch you. But how can I when you build the Great Wall around you…” Tori Amos

Luckily our days are easier now and I’m not flying solo anymore. I can greet the day with a sense of joy rather than one of sheer exhaustion. When Alice is sick I have help and the moments with my family are meaningful even when mundane. I spend most of my time in a state of gratitude for all the large and small moments. I love them because they are mine to love. That’s a thing no one can take from me no matter what.

 

I did not love this world

I did not love this world
This world did not love me
I longed for my escape
Beneath the twisted roots of trees
Beneath the velvet waves of black
In the deep and swelling lake
Free from lies I could not take
And a life spent on my knees

I did not love this life
This life did not love me
I longed to be subsumed
By the endless hills of green
Where the God and Goddess rule
Where the wild things might find grace
Where Mother Nature’s face
Remains untainted and serene

I did not love this time
This time did not love me
I longed to disappear
Behind the curtain of a dream
Where the clocks have lost their way
And the two hands spin apart
Where the ache of my poor heart
Is eclipsed by moonlight’s gleam

I did not love these days
These days did not love me
I longed to soar beyond
Into tomorrow’s bright reprieve
Where the past is laid to rest
And ancient wounds are finally healed
And ancient wisdom is revealed
And there is nothing left to grieve

Yet love did raise my head
So I could see the sky
A panoply of colors
The sunrise in my eye
And love did warm my heart
So I could stretch my wings
And feel the soaring joy
Of the songbird as he sings
Yes I had long forgot
That Life was mine to live
And Happiness a choice
And Love my gift to give

Kimkoa 2018