fueled, well

A few days ago, one of my sons brought up Christmas. Filled with excitement, he imagined aloud what he might get for Christmas.

Far from feeling elated myself, I felt a surge of panic at the mere mention of any day not today. This year, Christmas for me doesn’t mean candy with a side of connection, or peace with a pile of presents nabbed from under a sparkling tree.

It means the promise of even more devastation than has transpired in 2020 so far.

This time of this year, anything bigger than this moment terrifies me.

I asked that Christmas list reflections be kept in Christmas lists,
for which my husband gently chided me: Continue reading “fueled, well”

home

These days, I seldom leave home.

These days, the world as I experienced it pre-COVID now seems absurdly large and over-full:

too much bustle,
too much driving,
too much distraction,
too much to do, all the time.

The last couple of months especially have been, in many ways, just the right level of full: Continue reading “home”

nothing more to do

I asked my husband, Anthony, if our kids could have extra screen time today: “Is 6 p.m. OK? I’d like to write a post.”

“Sure,” Anthony said, before returning to playing his video game.

Having gotten that okay to write a post, I suddenly found that … nothing I wanted to write could possibly fit into so small a time.

I decided not to write. Instead, I made my sons whipped cream; for such a simple treat, they rejoice every single time I make it (?!?!).

But when I was done, I realized I had a veritable ocean of minutes left between then and end of tonight’s-new-screentime-end. So: I decided to read blogs, for the first time in many days.


As luck would have it, the top couple of posts in my feeds described the 22nd of every month as “Pepper Day.” So I decided, knowing these posters but not much about Pepper Day: Why not?

Why not spend a dozen minutes simply stating exactly where I am right now?

Where I am:

The month since my sons began school has been harder than I could possibly explain. I thought last Spring’s willy-nilly, on-the-fly virtual instruction would have prepared me for more structured Fall virtual classes, but, wow, was I wrong.

This became clear when, one day a couple of weeks ago, I found myself struggling to explain to my older son how to answer a math problem. I was so damn tired, I literally couldn’t access the memory to understand–let alone explain–something that has been bone-deep knowledge for me since I was my son’s age.

After a lifetime of telling myself I Can Do Anything, Always, Period,

I went to my car and sobbed for several minutes before, knowing I could not possibly keep going as-was, I wondered what I could change and–still deep into bouts of sobbing–contacted my work team to say I could not sustain working eight hours daily right now … at least not without hurting myself and my family.

Fantastic news: They understood! All pretty much instantly replied that I ought take care of myself, and my family, so that …

I wondered: How did this not occur to me sooner?

How did it not occur to me to tap out?

Why, apart from ever-loud societal expectations (including those non-verbally communicated to me oft by my own intellectually-believed-otherwise mom) that women should work themselves to the bone and then dig even deeper into the bone, had it not occurred to me to just say: “I cannot sustain this in these circumstances”?!

Regardless of what held me back before that tear-filled moment,

I’m glad those sobs brought me clarity:

I cannot sustain this.

So, not yet two weeks into my new-er normal, I am so relieved to have confronted the fact I could not continue as-was.

While I can’t speak for next week, or next month, it seems quite probable, now, that I could continue as-is for some time–

with “as-is” being a combination of time, encouragement, and support,
as well as the bliss of having having made a few moments, every day,
to stare at the ceiling
with nothing more,
then,
to do.

even so, or: “shoes”

This time last year, my husband introduced me to the 2006 music video “Shoes.”

When the video began playing, I couldn’t imagine why Anthony shared it. WTF was it, even?

By the end of the video, though, I was laughing. Hard. I couldn’t remember laughing that hard, or feeling so very-not-serious about anything, for years.

My kids and I ended up watching dozens of videos by the video’s maker, Kelly Liam Kyle Sullivan. Our favorites were “Muffins” and “Kelly’s Hollywood Meeting.”

When my late October birthday came around, my husband bought me two gifts: a Kelly shirt emblazoned with BETCH (Being En Total Control of Herself, natch), and another with the proprietor of Cunningham Muffins at her very wildest, muffin-loving best. Continue reading “even so, or: “shoes””

worth more

As my mom often told it, she was ten or eleven years when she first began losing her religion.

It wasn’t that Mom was faithless; she was, indeed, built to believe, as evidenced by her lifelong search for a place to express her deeply felt faith.

It was, rather, that she didn’t—couldn’t possibly—believe a woman’s sole path to heaven was being called there by her husband. That she could envision believing herself worthy of welcome in every single room of buildings of worship, instead of being prohibited from entering many for her audacity to not be born a man.

By the time she could talk about all this with me, I was myself ten or eleven to her thirty-ish years of age.

She’d left her religion an eternity ago, by my reckoning, and it had been—naturally, for things that have happened eternities ago!—a clean break. Continue reading “worth more”

(now) uncommon magic

This morning, my sixth grader, my first grader, my husband, our dog, and I all gathered together on our futon. This uncommon magic lasted for almost ten whole minutes.

To capture a fragment of the moment, I took pictures of my first grader and our fourteen-year-old dog together. The picture captured only a small part of that heart-filled moment, from the outside.

From inside the moment, though? It captured everything–most important of all, what might be some of the very, very last moments my older son is willing to snuggle.

You don’t need to see those moments for me to be able to see and feel in them all their heartbreak, and wonder,

and joy.

 

 

unexpected abundance

In my last post, I wrote about growing seeds, both literal and figurative.

As for the literal seeds, I wanted to report back for any other SoCal parents wondering how to keep their wee ones engaged in this physical world. Some of my family’s newly planted seeds are faring much, much better than others here in south Los Angeles County!

Within two weeks, we’ve witnessed growth as follows: Continue reading “unexpected abundance”

to reach for the sun

A few weeks ago, my six-year-old and I planted seeds in paper cups.

We stuck the paper cups outside and committed to watering them. Daily, ish.

With such a vague “commitment,” we watered them every few days. In the intense heat of August in SoCal, the seeds failed not only to thrive, but to show even the merest hints of growth.

Last weekend, my six-year-old and I planted new seeds in paper cups.

We planted green bean, watermelon, and tomato seeds. We committed to watering these each and every evening. Continue reading “to reach for the sun”

to show up

Today was my sons’ second day of (online) school this Fall.

Anxieties have run high among the adults in my home the last week or so: “What?! We just got the hang of COVID summer. How are we supposed to adapt to school now, when Summer just started … it did just start, didn’t it? Wait, is it still 2020?”

The first two days went pretty well, actually. I was able to collapse the chaos of virtual school-plus-work into a spreadsheet, and then … reality actually conformed itself, more or less, to that spreadsheet!

(That seldom happens, so I take time to savor it when it does.)

The best part of day two involved a summer assignment my older son finished a little late: “As a family, talk about an event in the news and how it relates to your faith.” Continue reading “to show up”