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“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

13 Sep

In air turned a dirty grey dusk, the scent of it tacky on my lips and skin, voice ring.

Counting. Counting down.

Come find me!

Where are you?

Find me!

I’m searching.

The dull gassy hum of streets lights balance against the warm brick of our house, our home, as we’ve made it. That sound, the grass through their toes, the laughter which bounces, terribly naughty against the neighbours house, spills in through my windows as this gauzy late summer night begins it’s drawl away. Perhaps the last summer night of her 8th year, her 6th. Perhaps the night they both build memories that become the stories and bedrock of their futures. Perhaps they’ll parse in in the smell of chocolate cupcakes, years from now. They’ll paint it in Venice, sing it on stages from here.

Draw the futures of their children against it.

Vivian, where are you? Vivian!

The house is lit, and welcoming against the coming night. The woods behind are darkening, turning from friendly caves to malevolent holes. I can hear Rosalyn, tethered between, wanting her sister, her heart arching to look under the maples and yet still young enough to see the orcs and goblins and child eaters hidden within, whispering.

Come find us.

Only this dank falling night can hold them, whispers, plaited promises. She yells for her sister, song on the wind, voice aloft.

I tell her, sweetly, kindly, to come wait, everyone has to come to home base eventually.

She won’t be moved. She stands, knee high to the clover turning to winter in the ditch, waiting.



Every obnoxious act is a cry for help.

6 Apr

It’s a war.

I need help.  NOW!  a terrible thundering hand slashes the water in the tub.

Not until you say please Ros. There’s a nice way to ask. Find it

We’ve hit the impasse for the last 10 minutes. Her voice becomes more shrill with each shriek, her face more contorted, her ability to lasso what she’s feeling less. Her black eyes blaze at me through the doorway as I attempt, calmly, to do what all the books say and model a quiet, reasonable tone.

Apparently, these books have yet to meet Ros.

As it affects her mother, the reasonable tone just serves to infuriate Rosalyn more. I’d like to say I can’t relate, and that I don’t turn to stifle a snicker. She’s so my daughter, even in her anger and frustration. But she’s prone to grunts and slaps when angered beyond what she can control, throwing, stomping, heaving bosoms and spit. She’s been like this since birth, a child of two gears, awesome, and totally fucking pissed off. She doesn’t seem to recognize grey. It’s not in her nature to.

Say please Ros.


Please. Say Please.


Heh. Fat chance kiddo.

I find myself staring into the backyard, the sand recently churned up by my children, released into the wild after the frozen months, the blessing of a beautiful weekend evident. Her voice turns into the trill of a storm, in the background, there, but not. I can hear her moving from frustration to no control, feel her stability crumble as simply as the corners where the pool once sat. Why am I fighting, at 8pm on a Sunday night after a weekend spent playing and walking and meeting people? What am I trying to win-against her, against me? Who is truly served?

I return to the doorway, leaning. Her face is red, and fallen, her eyes helpless and nearly vacant. She is worn, and blank.

Come on honey bear. Let’s get out of the tub shall we?

She fights me, even on this, her will sated, her anger still sore. I wrap her in one towel, ignore the screams as I toss it in the laundry, and grab the fluffy pale blue one instead, fresh from the laundry, and sweet.

I’m cold Mummy.

Come here bubbie. I’ll keep you warm.


7 Dec

I tell them they need to come to our my bedroom, that we, their father and I, need to talk to them. Vivian bounces around the room oblivious, Rosalyn continues to chatter to herself, her world made up of straws and markers and people only she can see, tucked away inside her head as Vivian sings to Rudolph.

We sit them between us. My eyes start to fill but I beat them back by lashes.

I tell them that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, we will always love them, their father and I. Vivian looks up at me with her big brown eyes, wide and glistening. And stares into me.

I stumble, but continue as her father’s arm tightens around her shoulder. Daddy isn’t going to live with us anymore. Daddy is going to have his own house. As reality hits, as the words flutter down her chest like dying moths, her face crushes itself and the tears come, the tears you shouldn’t have to shed until you’re 17 and some boy just broke your heart. The tears I should not be staring at while my 6 year old freezes in her father’s arms.

I can’t stop it. My chest wraps itself inside out and a snake slithers around my heart, watching her. Rosalyn squirms in my arms, twisting and still nattering, but Vivian has a crashing realization of what this means, and she sobs a death call for us, and I await the requisite banshee outside my window.

Never. Never ever ever do I wish to do this to my child again. I am her mother. I should be protecting her, not wounding her, not shifting her world ten paces to the left, a little out of the sun.

I hold her hands tightly as she cries, and mutter all the pithy words I’ve read she needs to hear. We still love you-we still love each other, just not like a mommy and daddy should together. Two houses will be fun! You’ll see me all week and Daddy on the weekend and we can do stuff together now and again. If you need one of us, you just call.

But no, we won’t live together here. Daddy is leaving after Christmas.

Rosalyn asks where we’ll live. It’s the only sign that she’s been listening after all, her sunny side up disposition unaltered by the conversation. She’s young enough, immature enough to likely not be bothered.

Once Vivian’s tears have subsided, once she’s swallowed I remind her of how Mommy and Daddy haven’t been getting along, and how this way, we’re happier. She looks me in the eye and sees that I believe it. A weight goes off her shoulders much as one went off mine weeks ago.

We flip through the Sears catalogue to look at little beds for his house. We tell them that just this once, they get to pick which one they want.

I bend, remembering to whisper in their ears. This is not your fault. This is us. You have done, and can do nothing to fix it.

And we love you, more than you can ever know.


I refused to insult either child by telling them this is best. I still don’t believe that. I don’t believe that we’ve worked, TRULY worked on making this marriage work, and I will likely be resentful about that until the end of time. Maybe it’s because my parent’s had a good marriage, and Cancer stole it, and I wanted a real chance to have what they had-a home, a loving marriage, a family.

I have never thought Divorce to be the best option in cases where there is no violence. Not without trying to work stuff through.

But it’s not totally up to me. And if we can’t or won’t work through it, then this is best. Even if it crushes my heart, and makes me realize how I truly am a mother since only a mother would hurt herself this way to make it better in the long run.

I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing.

We took them to dinner, mostly to underscore the “we will still do things as a unit” point, and to give them a break from that tension. We walked to see where he’ll live, just a few blocks away, and smack dab between the walking trail, two parks and the corner store. A quiet, dead end street. Walking home, Vivian asked to play outside for awhile, the new snow too much to ignore. She asked her father to play with her.

She decided to play house with Rosalyn.

I’ll be the mother. You be the daughter. There is no father here.

How many times exactly, can a heart break in one day?

Molasses, again

20 Oct



like molasses you are over me

clinging, sticky in your demands

tiny pursed mouth opened to a

black hole of you, of

squirming pouting need.


needs of being 2 on this planet.

Soon, sooner than I think

sooner than warned

you will shun my aching arms, you who

finds me, prone

1 am, blurry eyed dragging teddy wordlessly

your airsoft skin gentle on mine, perfect

scented head on my pillow. The candy of an age.

My girlchild to

womanchild to woman, no child.

yet I will always have this child.

I cast my eyes into your future. I cast

lines north to south for

warm mornings, cereal that stays in bowls

wet kisses, tears. They find themselves

tethered, unseen.

I shall hand you reeds to breathe above this. I shall

grasp your hand tighter down stairs. I shall

paint stories with the greenery that frames your

tiny impish glow.

Honeychild, let the bees come. Your sweetness

flows freely as it should.

(originally written in 2007-wanted to post tonight, but lazy, thought I’d rework this a bit.)

Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.

15 Jul



On buses, walking, waiting, anywhere that a child slithers into my side, a woman will smile that wistful smile, one of waiting or wanting, and stare at the three of us. I can always feel the eyes on me, the same I cast on the unknowing 15 year olds when they walk past me, their hips free of their futures, their shoulders strong and dreaming.

Sometimes, like yesterday, we’ll rise to leave, to make our transfer or get the groceries and a smooth hand will reach for me, briefly hold my gaze and arm.

“Your daughters are beautiful.” she’ll whisper, almost to herself, a secret of gold on her tongue. She’ll smile at me sadly as we walk away, my hands gripping each child warmly.


These women, they are so very right.

There are days when everything is so very hard, where I am tired, or lonely, or just plain done with small creatures who talk and touch and harass and otherwise get thisclosetome all day long. I have to force myself to step back and marvel at how Vivian is so utterly curious with everything, so responsible and such an old soul. Or how Rosalyn can create a new little world in seconds using only the two ratty sticks she carries and the back of a coloring book. If I stop fretting and fluttering, and just breathe, I can see them, the women who will one day play chess for hours together, instead of arguing about the set up as they are this very minute.

I see them as beautiful women then. I see them strong, and brilliant, and talented and above all happy. Their beauty, today, comes from the light which bursts from them, from smiles and grinning eyes, from the peace we feel with each other, when I relax and settle into them, and allow today, as well as tomorrow, to nourish me.

Their happiness keeps me found, solid and firm as they ready themselves to fly. The beauty and strength they project, lights my way as well as their own.


Be noble for you are made of stars.

24 Jun



neener neener boober, you can’t catch me! she sings from ahead, her small feet skidding through wet gravel as she stares at the lupins, the blooming raspberry bushes, the fallen leaves from the storm the day before.

Echoing in my head is a voice, softly, sadly saying “no, I can’t.”

We let go. We release. We cradle these daughters, sons, our children inside us, until we cannot any longer. Each day that follows is another lesson, another reminder on letting go. Without release, there could be no joy. I watch my youngest, my babe fly upwards, her feet barely touch the ground. She runs down the trail to our house, full of long grass and pooled rainwater. Spiderwebs, wild strawberries, aphids.

Only the water stops her fastidious self.

I cannot catch her. I wouldn’t dream of it. To do so would be to stop a star in it’s progress, to hold it from spilling it’s star stuff, to trap it within limits it cannot hold.She is aloft and spinning, and I am merely her maker, her nebula. Spun from my arms and belly, she travels and glows.

I look at other children, the boys and girls in the neighbourhood, and I can see their future. I can see in their eyes where they’re lit, what they’ll look like, who they’ll be possibly. I see tomorrow in all those little faces. I look back at mine, and I see only the glory of their joy, the sweetness of their curiosity, and the fire that burns behind them.

She runs ahead of me most days now, the child who at one time never left my grasp, the warm sense of my side. She takes off into the moody damp of the woods behind our house, stopping only slightly to see if I’m still coming.

I’ll fall farther behind each time.

I’m sorry, is The Mother’s Act trying to help women? My bad…

22 May

Once upon a time, everything was wrong. I knew it. I couldn’t bring myself to where I needed to be. So I lived with it, we worked around it, we did what we could, the people in my life, me. But when there’s a fuzz in your brain you can never quite shake, you can’t see through it. You can feel the wrong vibrating through your life, but you can’t quite settle it.

Even if you talk to a doctor, even when I sat down and said, please, I want to die, I can’t hold it in, they saw nothing. The next time I’d be fine, and bouncy and wonderful and life was grand and they saw nothing. So I carried on, with the wrong still buzzing, believing I was doing what I could do.

But then pregnancy, and pregnancy again, and there was a slight snap that let loose the dogs of crazy, and I slipped slowly into the vibration, becoming consumed, becoming someone I wasn’t, someone who I can’t recognize today.

They didn’t see it. They didn’t watch for it, they didn’t ask. My urine was more compelling than my mental state, even after the first time, even after being through it, after asking for help. Nothing. No one. They watched me crying, sobbing in a fetal position 3 hours after birth and did nothing. I should have been happy, shouldn’t I?

More and more foolishness comes out on the Mother’s Act. More lies, more blatant bullshit (prozac in a baby’s eyes? Really? People BELIEVE this crap!?!?) more obstacles to providing women with nurses and doctors who pay attention to their emotional state, who stop and ask them if they’re ok, who take a moment to look them in the eyes and tell them it’s ok to admit if maybe it’s not all puppies and rainbows.

Honesty. Caring. Compassion. Research to prevent post partum mood disorders.

I read a story like this one, where a mother kills her son. And I read how the family felt “she did not express the typical love of a mother for her child.” And how nothing had been done before that. How the mother said she killed him because “she did not want him to grow up with no one caring about him, the same way that she had grown up where nobody had cared about her.” She then walked the streets of her city.

If she never reacted properly to her son, why would no one ever see, or be told, or help? How long? From birth? Could this have been stopped, years before? This mother, who now waits to be tried, who wants now to die, who felt this was the only way, could she have been helped by something as simple as a doctor noticing, at some time, what was going on?

As a Canadian who has suffered a bad case of PPD, I’ve been watching the Mother’s Act hopefully, and wondering if we can implement something similar in Canada. Something that would extend a hand when it’s needed, not forcing or demanding, but merely being a support when it’s so desperately needed. Education for doctors and nurses to recognize the signs.

I’ve also been watching the backlash, the ridiculous claim from out of nowhere that this is basically an excuse for “big pharma” (I’m so tired of that term) to drug everyone into insensibility, make oodles of money, and giggle maniacally in their lairs. Because it’s hard to believe that anyone, even a senator who is paid to represent the constituents, or a mother who lost her daughter, might only want things to change for mothers. Because nothing can ever happen on a broad scale without some sort of conspiracy attached.

It’s disgusting, and infuriating, especially when coming from other mothers. I didn’t take anything when I was suffering-I went through therapy, and was eventually diagnosed, nearly 2 years later, as bipolar. Which I should have been diagnosed as years before. I elected to start treatment with medication, and did my research on each until we found one that corrected the imbalance in my brain, and allowed me to function, NOT exceed, but merely FUNCTION at the same level as everyone else.

I CHOSE my path. I still see a doctor, sometimes more, sometimes less. I take my medication because for me, talk therapy isn’t the only answer. But I refused anti-depressants twice, and was merely told that they were available, if I needed or wanted them. As with many women I know, I didn’t want them.

But some women might. And women should have the choice, since free will, after all, is a bitch.

There are lives to be saved here, women’s lives, children. By simple screening, questions, a kind word, someone paying attention. And yet we constantly see blowhards screaming their agenda, which is not so much about women but about their misguided attempts to protect. We see people who have never ever even given BIRTH, who decide, based on their vast experience, that this bill must be evil evil evil.

We have hundreds, maybe thousands of women, every day, suffering in silence, suffering in from of medical staff as I did, who get no help at all.

We are a compassionate people, aren’t we?


So I went to read the bill again. Looking for the “feed me Risperdal” clause.


(1) Basic research concerning the etiology and causes of the conditions.


(2) Epidemiological studies to address the frequency and natural history of the conditions and the differences among racial and ethnic groups with respect to the conditions.

 Again, research, especially about incidence, good. 

(3) The development of improved screening and diagnostic techniques.


(4) Clinical research for the development and evaluation of new treatments.


(5) Information and education programs for health care professionals and the public, which may include a coordinated national campaign to increase the awareness and knowledge of postpartum conditions. Activities under such a national campaign may– 

Gee, educating the public? Kirstie, are you listening?

 (B) focus on–

(i) raising awareness about screening;

     (ii) educating new mothers and their families about postpartum conditions to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment; and

    You mean, let people know what it might feel like so they can educate themselves? NO!


    (iii) ensuring that such education includes complete information concerning postpartum conditions, including its symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources.

    And education means providing ALL options and alternatives to the woman, so SHE can make a decision like a big girl wearing big girl pants? How progressive!



Frankly, I don’t see it. While I take medication, and it has literally saved my life, I don’t like pills either. I hate taking them. I’ve declined many medications because I don’t want it in my body. I would never support something that mandated medication. And this doesn’t. Unless there’s some super special secret page that only Amy whatshedrinking can see with all her friends. This is about education, and providing women with the tools they MIGHT need to help them get a handle on things.

Maybe I am insane, but I fail to see how this infringes on freedom, goes against the constitution, or any of the many things it’s been accused of doing.

It’s trying to help. People who have been there are trying to help. What’s really in it for those trying to prevent that help? Dollars for Scientology perhaps, more money for “natural” remedies that might also poison you? Is this just another way for some women to convince you that you aren’t a real woman if you haven’t “toughed it out” if you suffered true post partum, and not just baby blues?

I’m not proud. I deeply desired to give away my daughter at birth. To harm her and end my life. Many things too painful to write down. I recovered with therapy, with the help of a very aware lactation consultant who called at the right time. What I felt wasn’t natural or normal, and it took me a year to connect to her, despite fighting for therapy and assistance.

Now imagine the woman without an advocate.

That’s who you’re destroying here.

Tinkle Tinkle Little Ros

3 May

So…those of you with a 4 year old, please, pay attention.

Our dear, sweet Rosalyn, she who has been potty trained for over a year now, seems to have some issues.

Namely, remembering to go poo when playing/reading/the least little bit distracted, and waking up to pee at night.

She’s even told me that she’s had dreams about peeing. Still doesn’t put it together.

I took her to the doctor, to check for infection, as it’s been getting worse. Nope, nothing.

If one of us wakes her up around midnight for a tinkle, we’re ok. Otherwise, I’m glad I left the plastic bag on the new mattress.

She’s not getting any sleep though. And she refuses to wear a pull up or anything that even remotely smells like a diaper.

Honestly, I don’t much care-I know that it’s likely as my father says-that she’s recently grown, and her bladder just didn’t get the memo. But the poor little thing is exhausted, and I know it’s not her fault. She just doesn’t wake up. (Frankly, she could sleep through a nuclear exchange)

So-my question is this-have any of you dealt with this type of bedwetting? Is there anything I can do that I’m not doing? I absolutely am not punishing her for any of it, aside from a stern reminder to listen to her butt while playing, and I know she’s not doing any of it to punish me. There’s been no major stressors in her life, and she’s the same happy little demon she’s always been. Neither side of the family has a history of this, so I’m a little lost.

So-advice? You has some? I wants some.

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.

11 Mar

The clamouring starts before I’m even out of bed.

“Mommy, can you get me breakfast? Mommy, can you help me with my panties? Mommy, I don’t want THIS bowl, I want THAT bowl! Mommy, Jayden says that you don’t like me. Mommy, open the sock bin? Mommy, where’s my hat? Mommy, I can’t find Cheer Bear….”

If verbal assault could be explosive diarrhea, my children are official biological weapons.

Since I’ve been home, a lucky win fall for my daughters, the requests and needs and desires have been incessant, and I feel like I’m constantly being poked and prodded by a pack of wild monkeys searching for nits, the howling growing when I deny the T.V, the computer or more food. It’s almost as if they can’t believe their luck, and need to suck every inch of blood from my body until I’m just a husk a pod person comes out of.

I need to go back to work. I enjoy the time, but I’d enjoy it a LOT more if there weren’t kids under foot and I still didn’t need to get up most days to take Vivian to school. I have another job lined up, waiting to hear about one I want better, but DAMN, I am NOT suited to this stay at home thing.

I’m tired of cleaning, especially since no one else seems capable of keeping it that way. I don’t have it in me to constantly run behind everyone, or scrub the bathroom sink for the 5th time in a week. Reading is difficult since children, mine especially, have this irritating habit of talking. I really don’t have the capacity for games or experiments or anything arty. It’s just more mess. Winter has turned into that strange crunchy/slushy winter-spring hybrid, which means going outside is cold and sucky and boring.

I’m going a little nutty. I’m trying to just get away for a little while, since I also know I screwing with the patterns my husband has had for months, but this is a small city and there’s only so much to do. I’ve pretty much settled on spending a few hours at Starbucks or Timothy’s every day to read and maybe write if I’m up to the fierce outlet competition that ensues. Plus, it’s fun watching all the horrid 80’s hair on women far too old to pull it off. The odd poncho I saw today was also a nice touch.

Don’t even get me started on the hugging and the kissing and the cuddling. As people who have met me can attest, I am NOT a hugger, even if I adore you. Not a fan of touching-more a fan of the 3 foot personal space bubble. My kids are ALL up in my shit. I’m touched out in that regard. I don’t know if I can hack it anymore.

I LIKED leaving for the day, and coming back, happy to see my family. I could interact, pee without someone staring through the key hole, eat all my food, all by myself. Now, I’m so bloody lonely for human contact, for adult human contact that I’m being actively nice to strangers. Not just my usual good deed blather, but starting conversations and enjoying them.

This just won’t do. It just won’t.

Look, I love my kids. I do, with every fibre of my being but dear FSM I just cannot get them away from me, even at night. It’s all MOMMOMOMOMOMOMOMOMOM!!!!!, always with the inflection at the end like I’m some strange german word. But I just couldn’t do this forever. Rosalyn won’t stop peeing the bed no matter how many times she pees before hand, Vivian has nightmares nearly every night, and both of them only want ME. Santa could walk in with a pony and all of the Care Bears and no one would care since it’s not me.

SAHP’s-how the hell do you do this? How do you carve out anything for yourself without feeling guilty? These kids are relentless, like the black death….

Fire in the Belly, at 4

9 Mar

Originally uploaded by thordora

Lately I find myself reaching for babies a lot, my fingers twitching greedily for the soft, chubby legs, the tiny buttons on the tiny sweaters, the wispy hair (OH! the wisps) I don’t really want one-hell, I didn’t want mine when I had them, and hurried their babyhood’s alone with a wink, and nudge and the hope that lack of sleep would cause amnesia.

It must have worked since I can’t remember Rosalyn’s first word. I do recall that she walked for the very first time on her first birthday however. I don’t remember much else though, and thinking on it is like wading through mist. Ok, actually, I remember her exersaucer and how she took it as a personal challenge to get it across a room. She was always so determined to get moving.

In flipping through pictures of her, I noticed that her face, particularly her mouth, is dirty with something in nearly all. Cheese, crackers, peanut butter-always a greasy smear and crumbs down the front, too busy, much much too busy, white rabbit watch checking and running busy.

Then lately, now, I think of her, and the constant strains of “my haaands are durty!!!” and the running for the bathroom, the recent fastidiousness that has risen within her-the clean face I hadn’t seen since birth. I stopped and thought about that snack filled face, and nearly dropped what I held.

She’s a little girl now. My baby, my second born, my brave wonder woman birth, my angry little baby, so serious and sad for months in photos, still with the lost in thought head. She is not a baby. I can carry her down the stairs to her bed, her tiny arms twisted around my neck, her breathing warm in my ear, and I realize she never liked this as a baby, was never comfortable. She wants to do things, communicates her thoughts, tells me she misses her sister when she’s gone. (Yeah, I usually have to pick my jaw up at that one)

Man, where did she go? My baby, will she always be my baby? I know I treat the two of the differently, but how can’t I? They ARE so different! Where Vivian seems to run the rails on the straight and narrow, Rosalyn just…floats by, like she’s on water, plucking lilies from the shore. She’s got that purple crayon, and she’s drawing the road herself.

She really is a fabulous little creature. Not my baby, the baby is gone, and yeah, good riddance and all that jazz.

Four years ago, I was such a mess, and I was angry and depressed and scared, and almost unwilling and unable to love my baby, my daughter.

Four years later, I can’t imagine my heart not full with the sight of her.

Happy Birthday Ros. Sing me a song.

Teetering on the edge of all her tomorrows.

7 Mar

High on daiquiri and bravado, I follow a friend into a bar, a dark bar, narrow, one which,  a few years back, would have held tightly in it’s fist that blue haze of cigarettes and cigar smoke. Now, it has only a few morose smokers huddled against it’s heavy doors, looking listlessly out into the rainy night. We squeeze through the awkward crowd of 80’s clad early twenty-somethings and father figure type bearded men and find seats at the very end of the bar, unfortunately positioned directly in front of the amps, from which poorly executed Johnny Cash covers are whining their way through the room.

A beer, a feisty red beer which sits so poorly in my overly fruited belly, and I stare before me into the small sweaty dance floor. The man playing the guitar mentions it’s “mother-daughter night” and I glance closer. So it is. So it is a group of smiling, shiny young girls are drinking and dancing and holding close their mothers. Mother’s who hold their daughters right back, whose eyes shine with pride and amazement that their daughter, THEIR daughter, is so perfectly beautiful and delicate, so explosive with life. So ready for what might come, hanging on the edge of tomorrow and the next day. Tangled in the hair of one with black hair is a white flower, glowing against her, the porcelain gaze of her skin made frothy almost. She shines, like the new leaves in spring, just from the bud. I find myself watching her in awe, trying to recall when I felt that simply alive.

To be those mothers now-not the daughters. That ship has sailed and frankly, i know what lives underneath the lovely dresses and perfect tresses. Doubt, fear-am I on the path I need to be? Will things be ok? Will I find love, happiness, truth, beauty? Will anyone ever love me? They were beautiful girls, but I focused on the women, the singular devotion, the quiet in their eyes. The sweet satisfaction that come from them, their strength passed on to their daughters, girls on the cusp of becoming women, of finding their footing and destiny. They were the sweet oracles of Delphi, their daughters, merely the handmaidens, for now.

It was as if a ritual, a letting go, a slice at the ribbon of childhood, allowing these mother’s to really see their daughters as the individuals they are, not just as the babies that once suckled at their breast or the rotten 13 year old’s who screamed “I hate you!” when denied the chance to see Outcast or Nelly. Watching these women, there was the sense of a job done, and done well. Satisfaction, and pride. The cubs were coming into their own, and were lovely, and strong.

They stumbled into each other, drunk, mother or daughter. And they laughed a laugh I have never laughed, but wish too more than anything. They saw each other only with love.

It was beautiful.


My darling second born, or Shiva, destroyer of worlds as we are apt to call her, turns four on Monday.

That’s right. FOUR. I turned around, and the universe put a stubborn, obstinate, flighty little GIRL in place of a cranky sweet baby.

Already I experience such joyous things as, when told she cannot do something, usually along the lines of, no, you cannot run with scissors, she’ll cry out “You never let me do ANYTHING! It’s NOT FAIR!”

Yeahhhh. At FOUR. Not 13. FOUR.

Or the constant battles about underpants and proper bathroom hygiene. We had a 20 minute argument/fight/screaming match due to both of us being tired over her wiping her own butt.


Since both of us are stubborn and always believe we’re the one who is right, I’m thinking the ages of 10-18 are pretty much going to suck. Hopefully she smokes more pot than I ever did, because lord, she is smart and wily and strong and pretty fucking awesome.

She’s lying next to me in my bed as I write this, unable to sleep due to having a small nap too close to bedtime. She’s sounding like she’s snoring, but it might be the horrid congestion that’s had me feeding her cough strips all day long to moderate the croup like barking. You know the cough-the one that makes all the other mother’s stare at you at the mall like you’re this pathetic mother for taking her outside, even though it’s only post nasal drip?

Yeah. You know the one.



I look at her and think about last night and cast my mind ahead 15 years or so, to a day, a weekend, a night where all of this doesn’t matter-the interrupted sleep, the inability to remember to get to the bathroom 30% of the time, the screaming over nothing. I think ahead to how lovely her eyes are, and how they’ll burn with fire when she’s 20 and on the verge of taking everything by the horns. I think of her strong legs, and how she’ll maybe be a runner, and fly like the wind, the wind I could never quite take hold of.

I think ahead to that life where we have a beer, then maybe 5, and laugh about where I’ve been, and where she’s going, and all the wonderful, horrible, incredible places in between. We’ll see each other, in the strangest places, in the hairline, the wrinkles at the edges of our eyes. I’ll think of my mother, the empty placeholder between us, and wish she could see her granddaughter, be there to correct her posture and grammar. But I’ll see my mother in Rosalyn, her strength, in their inability to take no for an answer.  I think ahead to us in a dim bar, age narrowing to where it no longer matters, on a plane of is and was and will be.

I think of how beautiful she will look, teetering on the edge of all her tomorrows.


Dammit, she’s FOUR! Which makes me 32 this year, which makes me feel time speeding past me so fast I can’t hardly catch my breath. She was just this giant baby in my arms, a sturdy toddler. Now, she’s this gorgeous creature who looks so much like me I get confused. How could something so lovely, and yet so very immovable and strong be brought forth from me? My heart breaks at little bit, thinking of how bewitching she is, how sublime. How marvelous her future will be.

She’s the creature most like me, mercurial in her moods, loud in her upsets, sweet in her love. She’s the me who was, or as close to it as I might come.

And I love her, both.

Appetitus Rationi Pareat

20 Feb

Oh the guilty stolen afternoon, snuck quietly from the house, stolen to read a surprisingly awesome book (I love it so when that happens-when you buy it thinking, meh, why not, and suddenly you’re drawn in and the world is being colored around you..) The late February wind gusts around me, while puddles of new snow trickle beneath my feet. I can smell spring.

Fishing through the old clothes, I sigh a lot, all the cute things are just that much too small. We’ve grown past it. I finish eating my leisurely lunch, and while waiting for the cashier, spy a tiny boy, only 3 months, cradled in his mother’s arms as he has his lunch, eyes swollen with lunch stupor. His feet were so very small.

I’m on the bus when a little girl comes on, bundled in winter, cheeks rosy, her perfect little nose poking out, eyes curious and watchful. She stares at me with the no-stare. I’m fairly confident that I’m too far away from her to be really seen, but there’s something about those piercing little globes, like jelly beans or black jujubes.

My entire body cascades in on itself and cries out for more. My arms ache, my womb echoes for a child, my body feels drawn. My children are now children in the fullest sense of the word, and my body, my muscles, my soul shakes in the absence.

The simple unfair fact of knowing this ache after the birthing is complete. It startles me, like a cat shook from it’s sleep, and it angers me, that I couldn’t have felt this 6 years ago, blooming with the cells that would eventually become my first born daughter. Why not then? Why not when I could have reveled in every moment, enjoyed, simply stood in between maidenhood and mother, and accepted it, embraced it? Why only now, when the over is unplugged and in pieces?

I enjoyed the last 5 years. It has been a hard ride, a rough one, the brambles of mental illness entwined with simple achievements like first words (I can’t remember Rosalyn’s, and hope I wrote it down) and birthdays. But these years have been so innocent, comparatively speaking, as I’m noticing now that I have one in school. Those first 5 are halcyon days, glowing with such wonder, fabulous flowers on a plant you always found ugly. I eagerly sold the high chair, the crib, gave away 99.5% of the baby clothes. I welcomed, with open arms, toddlers, preschoolers, and now, children.

So universe, why now huh? Why burden me with a hunger I can never satiate? Why fill me up with this longing, for another child to grow in my belly, another gasp at the quickening, the terror of crowning and the quietude of 4am? Why bestow this gift on me now, after all this time, when its unnecessary, and more than a little inappropriate?

I stared hard at that little girl’s eyes, smiling wistfully, looking a little high I imagined. I could feel that baby skin on my fingertips, the porcelain of it, the chubby fingers grasping on their own, without measure or wit. I could imagine her weight on my hip, the little sighs she’d make while feeding, her tiny thumb, barely clinging to her lips as she slept.

In her eyes I imagined enjoying the babyhood’s of my daughters more completely, sanely.

Wanting a child is merely my wish for wanting to be normal.

Having Rosalyn so soon after Vivian stole that from me. And I can breathe now, and see that, see that for Vivian, I was scared, and worried and full of far too much book learning but I loved her and my world ran around her. But pregnancy, and a new child later and I was full of venom and hate without much room for love or empathy, not at first.

I crave a do-over. I want to be able to love a child the way Ros deserved to be loved, almost 4 years ago now. I can’t make it up, but on some level, my ovaries are trying to have the great chess game, to make up, to make due.

I’ve known, for years, that there’s no going back. What was, is, and simply, I cannot change or make that up. I can only move forward now, grasp my daughter tightly as she grins and tells me I’m pretty, as her cheekbones light up, exactly as mine do. What I can do it love the baby that was, the girl that is, the woman that will be.

The pinpoints of light in that baby girl’s face, interrupted only by the hesitation of the bus on a busy street, will forever hold me in thrall. I can face that hunger down, hold the door open, ask it to leave. And accept that finally, I have been allowed a feeling so basic to women, a hunger I never dreamed I’d feel. All of this shakes me from reverie, telling me to move on, move past and beyond.

I can love that phantom child, he, or she that will never be. I can love a ghost that never was.




8 Feb



In the air, this sweet break from the cold, rivulets down the road with winter dissolving, floats forever ago, a place disappeared, a land where the nights were long, crisp journey’s into another world, where time lasted and spun it’s magic around my ears. This air, reminds me of the warmth in our kitchen, the images of my mother’s hands across my back, on my head, in the sink, dishes clanging as I sat, underfoot, studying the patterns there. This air, it marries us across the years, the me then, the me now, handfasted, tied with thread and IV lines.

This air, it burns my eyes.


Taking advantage of a state of hypomania lasting more than 30 minutes (and explaining away my need for sleeping pills last night) I rip apart the bedroom, old clothes sorted out into a garbage bag, magazines on to the porch, to give away, to save for that day all trash is allowed, anything, maybe even the monkey’s on your back. I shift the bookshelves, notice the “unread” pile has grown to 20 or more books, smile. See my lonely photo album, the only evidence that I had a childhood, somehow tucked under the cat’s sofa, ragged and old.

Rosalyn, who has been “helping me” by laying on the futon and rolling around with Bride Barbie, sees the album and is drawn, as all children seem to be, by these frozen moments trapped. 

“That’s me!” she screams at the baby pictures. I find myself correcting her, but not really, so entwined we seem, so much the same, the air between us thin and enraptured, time meaningless. She sees me in full ballet regalia, the hated tutu, the flower hat my mother made that I wasn’t allowed to wear in the recital.

“I want to look like that Mummy.” she mutters, staring intently, eyes boring through the photo. Her grandmother deserved this child, she who loves pink and Barbie and babies and ballet, everything my mother wanted and wished for in a daughter, none of which she got. My mother deserved this granddaughter, who would have made her so proud, so happy, so fulfilled in all the ways I never could. Rosalyn deserved my mother, deserves her still, to embrace her in the ways I cannot, and possibly never should.


I turn, find the one lonely shot of my mother and I, the only picture I have of her holding me, the only one where she’s smiling, where her face isn’t forced for the camera’s or fighting back the pain I know she suffered. She’s gorgeous-my mother was beautiful and I try to show Rosalyn, try to make her understand how lovely and perfect my mother was when I was her age, how I must have crowed “You’re the bestest mumy EVER!” to her in the mornings but I just can’t find the words, all gummed up like marshmallows in my throat and it won’t make any sense, not now.

Possibly not ever. How do you explain an absence to someone who’s never felt it? What’s the point is deciphering that which will never be?

My mother was who she was, and all the things she wasn’t and never would be. She loved me. Maybe I only have one picture and it’s fading and cracking but she’s sitting as I sit now and holding me as I hold my girls and I know, without doubt, her heart glowed for me and shone in the darkness that were her last days.

She loved me. That I can tell Ros. That makes sense.


I point to another shot, curled up in that hideous chair from so long ago, pointed at the television. Shot taken while I was in the grip of the nightly news I imagine, legs pulled under, wearing only underpants, despite my hair being neatly pinned back.

“Ros, who is that?”

She knows it’s me, but waits, looking into my eyes.

“I hated them too, see? No pants. Hated pants.”

“Like me!” she sings, grinning.

“Like you Honey Bear. Just like you.”

The air shimmers, and I can taste the air in that room, liver and onions perhaps, my mother’s ribs, a Sunday dinner of hamburgers, chips and illicit soda. It’s warm and secure and snug around my shoulders like one of those granny square afghans you find in the thrift stores now and again, the work wasted on the receiver, or maybe dead. We’re there together, Ros and I, but it’s her little legs on that chair, my hands holding the warm milky tea and buffing my nails before bed. We’ve merged and danced into each other, my childhood, my memories becoming hers, settling in to a quiet corner where in 10 or 20 years she’ll find herself telling a story about a little girl in a room full of amber light and love and they’ll never be able to tell what’s mine and what’s hers or where it’s all gone.

They’ll never know for sure.


It breaks my heart to never know my mother. I’ll stare at her eyes in photographs, thinking I’ll know the secret if I look at her long enough, that somehow, I’ll absorb enough of her to really know my mother, for her to mean something more than the sum of her loss.

But you can’t know the dead. You can’t know the people they were-you can only wave to the people you want them to be, the people you think they were once, before everything happened. I can stare at her face, the before face, the one before the chemo and the radiation and the pain, the pain of knowledge, the pain of leaving, the pain of facing your life ending, a plane crashing into so many lives. I can’t know that. I’ll never know that in the ways that kept her up at night or guarded her eyes as the days grew closer.

I will never know my mother. She will be that perfect garden in a picture, all beauty and tragedy, curves and angles, youth and hope. She will be annectodal memories for my daughters, the one we cannot hurt, the one who lives forever in our hearts and fingertips and the glittering spring leaves in the broad maple behind the house.

The one that got away.


She was happy once, that I can convince myself of, even when I stare at a face yellowed by treatment, frightened by what might come, and yet absolutely resolute in her ability to ignore what will be. Hope via ignorance. How very catholic of her.


She was happy once. God fucking dammit, she was happy, and alive and beautiful and she was my mother. Sometimes the air arches back and around, like today, and I imagine her, young, like I am, newly blessed with children, just breathing in the air, glad to be alive, remembering when she was young, and all the stories she’d some day tell.

She was happy there.

I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.

21 Jan

“Mommy, elephants are really scared of mice.”

“mmmhmm.” I’m in a hurry, ran home from one appointment, grabbed the kid from school, dragging her home so I can dart out the door again. Stupid rules not allowing her to take the bus when she can’t walk home by herself alone anyway.

“Yeah, when there’s a mouse, the elephant jumps up in the air it’s so scared.”

I stop, causing Vivian to stop, her mittened hand tucked into mine.

“Dude, the only thing an elephant is scared of is likely human. And carrying a gun. Do you know what people do to elephants for their tusks? They cut them off and then leave them. Trust me, a mouse is the least of their problems.”

We walk a little further, and sure mutters “But they said that elephants are scared…”

I stop again, and bend down to talk to her, not at her.

“Viv, logically, rationally, think about this. How big is an elephant?”

“HUGE!” she crows

“Yes. And how big is a mouse?”

“Really really little?” she offers

“So, knowing this, does it make any sense that a creature as wonderful and large as an elephant would be frightened by a mouse?”

She pauses, looks off down the road. Then the glimmer starts.

“No Mommy. That doesn’t make any sense at all.”

“Question Vivian. Question what they tell you. You’d be surprised what you learn.”

But now of course, she senses the “mom-lecture” coming, and stops listening.


I love that we’re raising the girls without religion. I love that they will be raised without the spectre of blind belief, without being taught to never question the things which matter most, to just accept the fantastic claims we make as a society about gods and heavens and afterlife’s. I love that instead of me saying “No, cause god says so!” I have to explain why and how and when, and the words “just cause” rarely exit my lips.

The urge to run with the elephant myth, or to say the moon was saying good night this morning instead of explaining orbit and the tilting of the earth’s axis is strong. It IS easier to run with the prevalent myth, to run with the man in the sky, guiding your life. It’s easier to make magic instead of science. Or so it seems.

I made a decision awhile ago that while I love magic, and all the magical things our world presents to us, I love truth even more. I love the magic in the real world-in how a plant grows, drawing it’s power from our star, the sun. I love explaining the wonderful way that one thing can be many things, and a metaphor for life-water as liquid, snow, ice, vapour. I love watching the magic appear in my children when they watch spiders hatch and run a myriad of ways across our deck, and know that the world has given them this, and it’s sweet.

I believe in the world around me, and by extension, my daughters. I believe that giving them the tools to question the myths they’re given, to really stop and examine if the easter bunny makes any sense whatsoever helps them become smarter, braver women. I knew growing up that most of those characters couldn’t possibly exist. But I loved them the same, for what they meant. I don’t want my daughters sitting idle, accepting what they are told as law, or as a given. I want the questions to be asked.

My mother, raising me under the cloak of  a Roman Catholic god, never accepted this. Her world brooked no questions, not for the important things, as when I’d express my disbelief in a magical place where everyone sat around and revelled in how awesome they were on earth. This wasn’t something said, and I took a long time to finally have the courage to speak my disbelief out loud, into the air where it was made real.

I have found the world around me, the substantial stuff we walk and breathe in, to be more magical and inspiring than any doctrine or book could be. The truths that we link to, the absolutes that settle in our chests and tell us that no, there’s no way that elephant could ever be afraid of something so minuscule-those are awesome because they are ours. They awe us because they start with us, our minds.

I don’t want my daughters to every forget how powerful and magical they themselves truly are.

Influenza at 3.74

8 Jan

She comes running from her room to see me, her cheeks ruddy with sick, eyes heavy and dark lidded.

“Mummy, it huwts. My tummy.”

Her tiny hand rests on her belly, almost like mine did, years past, cradling the heaviness of her head in the last months of utter safety. I remember her there, taut, like a spring, ready yet patient.


She looks up at me, the sleep tattooed to her lips. I know this feeling-the drawn pain in your bones, the disconcerting ache in the pit of your stomach, the helplessness of a body that’s decided last night’s ham and swiss isn’t your friend.

I remember, and know, but for her, for her 3, almost 4 body, it’s new, raw, and she’s terrified by the force inside.

She sits with me, her warm ball of muscle and obstinate will leaning into me, merged with me, silk from the top of her hair fluttering in my nose as I brush my lips, minute to minute, against her forehead.

Hummingbirds. I want the hear the Hummingbuwrds.” The Boston Burr on her tongue still hasn’t left, and it flicks my heart each time.

She helps, placing the CD gently inside, waiting for the sounds she’s grown to love. She presses back against me, heating my skin, causing my own jellied insides to stir.

We sit inside this moment, perfect, like crystal figures. Her sister understands this flu, the need to clamber among me that Rosalyn has today.

Later, I’ll let her sit up with me, watching Firefly. I’ll watch her methodically stack the videos, moving them off the floor, nothing like the daughter who the night before, coughed and let loose the dogs of her stomach, all over me, my bed, the blankets. The daughter who stood up panic stricken, crying “change my sheets!” until I reminded her that they were my sheets, and it was perfectly, utterly, all right.

Later I’ll be happy for the battle of hugs and kisses at bed time, because it means she’s better, and my heart can let go of that autolurch it does, the kick of worry that even a simple case of the flu can bring. That constant fear, that something, anything might take her away from me.

Her cheek is smooth against mine when I give her that last buggie-rug and hug on her lip, cooling now, not so fired, clay cooled. I hold her hand in mine for a moment, marvel at how they’re just like mine.

She Blinded me with science!

26 Dec



Yes, that is a plastic stomach.

Santa, being a dutiful and women friendly fairy tale, remembered to bring Vivian something science related. He brought her “Sick Stomach“. Why yes, that means exactly what you think. I get to make pretend vomit with my kid. She’s pestered me all day long to do it, and I’ve been able to put her off because we need things to make it, like digestive cookies. Yes, I do see the irony on that one.

After all the candy and cookies and sheer crap that I’ve had, I couldn’t stomach making barf.

The sheer awesomeness of having a science obsessed daughter is my gift.

I, aside from my tattoo, got an Aerogrow. The bets are on for how long it takes for me to kill everything. It’s pretty cool, and also functions as a pretty damn good reading lamp.

Small Christmas, but good Christmas. Pooper Scooper Barbie was well received (poop already lost), T-Rex Playmobil caused squeeing, everyone happy, and gaining weight from the sheer amount of crap gifted to us. If I never see another gummy lifesaver again, it will be too soon.

Now if you don’t mind me, I have a bottle of white wine to finish off.

The ladies, lately.

16 Dec








Who WOULDN’T give them all the candy?

1 Nov

Please help me before someone gets killed.

28 Oct

I love my youngest daughter.

I repeat this mantra almost daily.

Her older sister is, for the most part, intelligent, sweet natured, helpful-only a little attitude thrown in. (and that’s mostly just lately.) Vivian listens, she stays in bed, rarely needs extra attention. She’s the easy one.

Rosalyn makes me want to eat my shoes on a regular basis.

When things were stressful in August, she started crawling into bed with me, which, all things considered, I didn’t deter. I figured she needed the extra attention because she’s more sensitive. Flash forward to now, a few months later, when everything is stable and normal again, and she’s STILL doing it. 3-4 times a night.

Out of no where I’ll hear “I need a hug and a buggy rug!” and since no one BUT Mom will do, I have to stumble out of bed, and return her.

Threats don’t help. Taking things away-escalates the screaming. Ignoring her-to begin with, I have trouble ignoring her (hello residual guilt of the post partum period!) and secondly, the girl can scream. Loudly, and forever. No one would get any sleep at all.

Problem is-currently I’m not getting any sleep and I feel like a zombie. I know that today I’m coming down with the cold I’ve been avoiding but sheer luck and eating ok, but I’m weak and it’s exploiting that.

I’m frustrated. I do not know how to stop this. She’s still in a toddler bed, and I’m wondering if maybe the bed is too small? It’s not a peeing issue-she’s finally down with all that. It’s not nightmares or terrors because she’s not upset at anything, not crying, she just wants me. And as flattering as that is, I’m exhausted. We can’t watch a TV show anymore without a visit.

I’m trying to just take her right back to bed, tuck her in and leave. But it doesn’t seem to work, and I’m freaking tired. She won’t let anyone in the house help her-she’ll go into hysterics instead, which is TONS of fun at 3am.

What am I doing wrong? She’s a very sensitive kid-she won’t wear anything with buttons, whips her PJ’s off a lot of the time-which is why I’m wondering about the bed size. But I also have a LARGE suspicion that she’s just playing me.

At the same time, she’s not even 4 year, and I don’t want her to be scared.


My kids-let me show them to you.

7 Oct

Don’t blame me. I have nothing to do with this, aside from snickering…