Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Charlotte has me worried.

 She is exhibiting so much anxiety, and stress, and worry, and sadness. My daughter, who, one week ago, was happy, can barely get through the day without crying. She suddenly has one irrational fear, and "bad thought", as she puts it, after another. I don't know how to help her.

We were just lying in bed, and I was comforting her, and she told me through her tears, that I am her life, and she would give her own life for me. She is 7. Where is this coming from?

It is Tuesday. We have not a dollar to our name until Friday. I am stressed. Yet, I am careful not to show it, which is incredibly hard, as Charlotte seems so very fragile. And I know how she feels. She said before that her thoughts are like a wheel. They keep spinning and spinning, and suddenly, they just stop on one, and they aren't stopping at the happy ones.

Oh my poor bear. I understand.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paint my masterpiece

When Charlotte was born, if David had not been in the room, I wouldn't have believed that she came out of my body. The second I saw her, nothing was familiar about her. She looked like they had brought someone else's baby into the room. She looked nothing like her big sister. I thought for a moment, it was the epidural. When I got her settled into our room, I would look her over her, I thought to myself.

Even after I inspected her face, and scrutinized her hands, and carefully unswaddled her to examine her tiny naked body, there was not one thing on her that she had inherited from me. Not her ears. Not her nostrils. Not the shape of her legs. Even her toes seemed foreign to me.

And so it has gone with Charlotte. Most days, when I am out with all three of my girls, it looks like I have two mini me's, and the kid next door along with us. She looks nothing like me. She is her father. Every bit of her, down to the gap in her front teeth. I love that gap, and when she flashes that smile, with the gap being even bigger at the moment, from the lack of those front teeth, it is Charlotte and her Dad smiling at me, all at the same time.

What has floored me on this parenting journey, is what you do inherit. Olivia has my inability to keep a secret. By that, I mean she has to report every bad thought, or 9 year old mean thing she might have uttered on the playground. She will become riddled with guilt, and it literally eats her alive if she doesn't. That I can say with 100% certainty she got from me. Her cheerful demeanor, and willingness to please, definitely me as well. In fact looking at how she acts at age 9 is looking into a time machine at myself at that age.

Charlotte...oh Charlotte....most days, I hear her rise for the day, and brace myself. I just never know what I am going to get. Some days, she is really tough. Moody. Whiny. One minute she's happy. The next, grumpy. That, I can say with 100% certainty, is all David.

 But there is something that I clearly see as being from me. She has these ideas how something should be. She paints a picture in her mind, and literally, sees how something should go, and most of the time, winds up disappointed. And then, it's bad for everyone.

She wanted to paint. Not just sit down, and paint like they do, at the kitchen table. She wanted to paint at an easel, on a canvas, and even envisioned a palette. She rose the day she had selected, and put on her painting clothes. I swear, if there was a beret around, she would have popped it on her head. I set her up outside, and carefully squeezed out the acrylic paints on to a palette. It took her a while to decide which way she wanted to paint her vision on to the canvas. She had waited for this moment, and I knew what she was thinking. The masterpiece in her head would translate on to that canvas, just as she saw it. Effortlessly.

But it didn't. What started as a sweet, very abstract flower, soon became a canvas, covered in a wash of every color. A wet, brownish, grey, mish mosh. She saw a mess. I saw a night sky. I loved it! But there was Charlotte, in tears, not believing my praises, and storming off, into her room, yelling behind her as she went that she is "the worst painter ever".

Sometimes, the picture you paint in your head, and the expectations you hold so dearly, and with such might, don't always work out as you plan. In that moment, when I saw Charlotte's heart break, because it just wasn't working out as she had planned, I saw me. I saw how hard it can be to accept reality, as opposed to what you thought it was going to be. I saw how terribly disappointed one can become, in not attaining what you thought the outcome was going to be, instead of loving the what you actually got.

When Charlotte's painting dried in the sun, I brought the easel into the house, and propped her finished product up, and took out my art history books, and showed her works from Jackson Pollock, and Georgia O'Keeffe. She was amazed at what could be considered art. She stood back and looked at her finished masterpiece, and was pleased, and proud. As was I, looking at my masterpiece, Charlotte. Both of us, pleased at the outcome.

Not quite what we had painted in our mind.

Even better.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A sort of homecoming...

..."they are just jealous because they are piss poor...too bad ..so sad"....

..."my family and I are going on vacation, we make enough money to do so and build great memories for our children".

Someone actually wrote those words to me this week, in an argument I got into on Facebook, regarding...well...everything going on in our country right now, and our President, and my defense of him. Apparently, backing up my President, and being a struggling middle to lower middle class family means I hate success, hard work, and the wealthy. Right? It also seems to mean I am lazy, and jealous, to some.

I am unsure when or how it came to be, but the media, or the "have's" who are fearful of the "have not's", or rather, fearful of how easy they could become a "have not", through no fault of their own, has really done what it needed to do. It has pitted us against one another. They have created classes, within a class! Bravo! Well done!

We, meaning, the middle class, or, the lower portion of us, the people who were making ends meet, and living paycheck to paycheck, in the hopes, that one day, our hard work would  pay off, and have found ourselves, well...working harder than ever, and having none of it paying off...in fact...watching it all slip away...yes, us...we seemed to have divided into "cliques", if you will. It's like High School, all over again. Middle class Americans looking down on fellow middle class Americans.

"They are jealous because they are piss poor. Too bad, so sad." Shockingly, these words were written, to me, by a woman in her 40's. Amazing, I know. It was at that moment, I realized, that everybody in this whole country is scared. Genuinely, frightened, and insecure. That would be the only reason someone would speak so cruelly to another, and gloat about how "well" they are doing, compared to someone else. Just like High School. Making fun of some one's clothes, because yours are more expensive. When you have nothing intelligent to say, fling an insult. When you are scared about the possibility, that all these struggling Americans really may not be lazy, and really not looking for a free ride, and you too could find yourself where they are...it gets a little uncomfortable. It becomes too close to home.

We are at the High School Football game, all over again. And there can only be one winner. And when that happens, the other team must secede to the other's laws. Isn't that how it works? Or does it? We are all players. Sadly, the opposing team is just like you.  Sure...there are the cheerleaders, and the big mouths in the stands, heckling, and yelling out profanities, all while sitting on their butts, knuckle deep in a bag of peanuts. And there are those with the designer duds, or a better car than yours.

But really, we should all be on the same team. We are struggling. And whether you are scared to lose, or have nothing to lose, how are you gonna play this? Look down your nose at someone, and judge, and criticize? Call someone "piss poor", and "jealous"?

 Is that what we have really become?

That is too bad.

 And so very, very, sad.

Friday, July 13, 2012

July freeze

We have no hot water. The hot water heater, the one that has been on the fritz, sometimes providing hot water, and sometimes producing lukewarm water, has finally died. We have no hot water. At all.

I should look on the bright side, and be happy that it is July, and it could be worse. It could be February. And really, I am grateful for that. If I had to take an ice cold shower, I would much rather take it in the summer, than in the winter. And my hair and skin definitely look good from such an eye-opening start to the day.

I just can't stand to listen to Molly scream because the water is so unbearable to be in. I feel awful forcing her into the bathroom for a quick soap up, and rinse in ice water. She cries and begs not to go. And she fights to climb out of the tub while she is enduring it. She is mad at me for some time after each event. I feel terrible about it. I hate that I just can't fix something that breaks. I just want to do the minimum.

Not sure when and how we will be able to get the funds together to purchase and install one. I think it is going to be a while. No overtime, AT ALL. Very small paychecks. We are stretched beyond stretched. It is a constant game of catch up.

But it's July, and I shall be happy for small mercy's.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More malarkey

We are in the thick of summer vacation around here. Lot's of round the clock togetherness time with myself and my girls has lead me to make a few observations. I am beginning to think that what I am observing, is human nature. It is something in all of us. Nature, not nurture, if you will.

They cannot speak to each other, if me, or David, are not present, politely. They have ill will toward one another. By this, I mean they are just plain rude to each other. If Charlotte calls out Olivia's name to ask her to play a game, go outside and play, break out Mancala...whatever....Olivia will literally say "What????" in the nastiest, most annoyed tone. She doesn't answer her, as I have taught her to, which would be to say' "Yes Charlotte", in a sweet manner. No such luck.

Even if Olivia and Charlotte are in the front playing Top Chef, which they do with every terra cotta pot I own, and rocks and dirt, twigs and moss, being presented as meals, they are constantly bickering, and trying to one up the other. They judge the meals they have prepared so harshly, and some comments borderline on just plain mean.  Which leads me to my second observation....

Competition. It seeps itself into everything we do. I took them to the lake yesterday. I brought along 3 Styrofoam noodles...the kind you float on. One for each girl. Two were green. One was orange. That was the fatal flaw of the day. I can't tell you how many fights erupted, and tears rolled, over use of the orange noodle. Damn that orange noodle, I thought to myself all afternoon. Here I am thinking I am taking my girls out for a nice afternoon, and the orange noodle is ruining everything. I glared at it all afternoon. And let me tell you...if the orange noodle was put down for a second by one of the girls, the other two came running for it. You cannot imagine how insane I looked, holding a giant Styrofoam stick almost as tall as me, losing it in front of a lake full of strangers.

But it doesn't stop at water toys. Heaven forbid I give an extra strawberry, or one two many chips, to one of them, there is hell to pay. They eye up how much juice I have poured to ensure they all have the same. Cake must be sliced with incredible precision, as not to upset the careful balance of happiness and home.

 I have my limits...believe me. If I take one kid out with me running errands, and the rest stay home with David, and we get a Rita's out while we are running around, I tune out the complaints that I hear the moment we walk in the door with the evidence of where we have been. Lately, with all the summer time togetherness we have been having, when questioned "why did Molly get more cherries than me", I simply shoot back "Because I love Molly more". They get it. Sarcasm is part of our daily dialogue here, so it doesn't escape them.

Try as I may, survival of the fittest seems to be hard wired into them, as it is in all of us. I just never knew it would be in the same pack. Here we are, living together as a family, in our small house, sharing one, yes one, bathroom, and I sort of assumed we would all be one another's biggest fans, and supporters. For the most part we are, don't get me wrong. But some days, I realize, that despite my best parenting, and try as I may, it is simply out of my hands.

File that under butterfly kisses, dandelion wishes, and other mother hood malarkey.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


 I need to gush on yet, a second post, about the magical house we stayed in, in New Hampshire.


We stayed just short of a week, but literally, I felt like I had moved in. It was that cozy, and beautiful. I felt so relaxed, and just left it all behind me. It was a special time for my family and I, and I want to thank Cynthia Mickle, the owner of the home, for giving us this most precious gift.

Time to relax. Introspection. Just being.

If you can go here...go.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Live free or die

Any time I hear a seagull, I am transported to Cape Cod. I am 4. And a half. The half was very important at the time. My parents took us to a house, on the bay, at the Cape. We stayed for a week. The main house, a real beach house, was built into the side of the dunes, with the deck extending out. There was a little path that lead to a bunk house, where myself, and my brother and sister slept. It had bunk beds, and a single bed. I slept on the bottom bunk. My sister above me. There was a dresser, and a little lamp, right by the window. I can still see the gauzy curtain blowing from the sea breeze.

The week was magical. It is imprinted into my mind. Everything about it. From how far the tide would go out during the day, allowing you to walk forever, and play in small tidal pools, to how close it came in at night. The stairs down the dune would be almost covered with frothy, churning bay water. The sunsets were magic. Dinners out on the deck, and playing blind mans bluff at night are pressed into my memory. I remember going to a drive-in in our gigantic wood paneled station wagon, and falling asleep during the Pink Panther, in the "bed" my parents had set up in the back of it.

I am writing this from a Burger King, that has free wifi, in New Hampshire. I am looking out the window, and the White Mountains are breathtaking. We are on vacation. We are broke. Constantly. But someone I am lucky to know offered us her beautiful home, here in this magical place, for us to come, and get away. When we left on Sunday, for our week here, we had $300.00. Actually...I think it was more like $280.00. Who goes on vacation with that kind of cash? It's crazy. I thought that maybe we were going to have to pass on this trip, but David looked at me and said, we would be fine. We would figure it out.

And we have. We brought along practically the entire contents of our home, and had the gas to get here, and purchased groceries on the cheap, for the week, and we are in heaven. On the property is a waterfall, and two swimming holes! Yesterday, we swam all afternoon at a 12,000 year old geological sight, called the Sculptured Rocks. We packed a lunch, and looked for flecks of gold in the small pebbles in the crystal clear, cool water. Today, we are off  to Spectacle Lake for the day. And tonight, I am feeling a game of blind mans bluff coming on.

My Dad told me years later, when he could finally talk to me as an adult, how much that trip to Cape Cod had cost him. They didn't have the money. They put it all on credit cards. And it took them years to pay it off, and damaged their credit for a while to boot. But when I tell him that my greatest memory from childhood was that magical week swimming, and playing in the sand, and staying up late, and sleeping somewhere far from home....I see how happy he looks.

Going on vacation by the skin of our teeth has really given me so much anxiety this week. It has made my heart flutter more than a few times with palpitations. But as I brushed the knots out of Olivia's hair the other evening, after a day of them swimming in the waterfall, and catching water lizards, and tadpoles, Olivia whispered to me that she will remember this trip her whole life.

I believe she will.