Today I made a mistake that could have killed my son

by renegademama

Today I made a mistake that could have cost my son his life.

You know we all look at those parents who forget their kid in the car due to a change in routine or stop watching them for 5 minutes near a body of water, or make some other fatal error in judgment, and we think “Dummies. Assholes. I would never be that stupid.”

And maybe you wouldn’t. Maybe your version of stupid is different from theirs. But the fact is that we all have those lapses in judgment. We all have those moments of stupid. We all make those decisions in the heat of just the right or wrong moment that in hindsight appear absolutely idiotic, even insane.


We were running late. My oldest is sick and I was taking care of her. We left the house 5 minutes too late. When we got to the school we had 4 minutes before school started. The parking lot, where I normally drop my 9-year-old off, was closed to make room for busses for a big field trip. I couldn’t see where to drop my boy. The parking parent suggested I drive down the street, turn around and wait in the 20-car-line coming the other direction, on the side of the school.

This bothered me. It would make my boy 15 minutes late instead of 2.

And his student report said he was tardy too much.

And I’m trying so damn hard to get him there on time, to do my part for his education. He’s dyslexic. He already has a hard enough time.

So I decided I would let him off on the side of the road and he could cross in the crosswalk. I pulled over to the right but there wasn’t anywhere to park fully. The tail end of my big Expedition was sticking out in the road.

I glanced in the side view mirror. I didn’t see a car. I told him “Okay Rocket, go ahead.”

He opened the door and we immediately heard the slam of buckling metal. Some dude in a Prius was late for a meeting and decided to scream by on our left. He clipped door as it was opening, buckled part of it, and ripped the side-view mirror off his car.

If it were 10 seconds later, he would have hit my son. At his speed, I doubt my boy would have survived.

I wanted to make it this man’s fault. Why wouldn’t you be more careful in a student drop-off zone? Why wouldn’t you watch, go slowly? The fucker didn’t even apologize. The dickwad didn’t even say a word. He said “There’s always so many kids around here!”

Um yeah genius, it’s a school. Kids tend to be near schools.


But the fact is I did something profoundly stupid. I was rushed. I was worried what the teacher would think. I don’t want to be that asshole parent who wants the school to work their asses off for her kid but isn’t even able to get her kid to school on time. I was irritated the parking lot was closed. I was not thinking of the safety of my boy first. I was thinking of getting to school on time.

On the way home, it hit me fully what could have happened. I saw in my mind, his little body crushed by a car. I felt myself throw my body out the car to hold him. The horror, agony, guilt. The way I would have replayed that morning in my mind, the moments leading up to it. The perfect shitstorm of circumstances leading to that critical second.

Whether or not he would have lived, he would have been terribly hurt, and it would have been my fault. I knew better.

He basically got out of the car in the street. AND I TOLD HIM TO.

It took my breath. I threw my hand over my mouth as I drove. I felt sick, like I could vomit. My eyes filled with tears. I shook my head, literally, to get the image out of my brain of his body and that metal.


I said in my last blog post that I didn’t become some better version of myself, some perfect model of human just because a baby exited my body. This is the single most difficult fact of parenthood for me, and the thing that fucks with me the most. I NEED TO BE A BETTER PERSON BUT I’M NOT, not always.

That goddamn human fallibility. My impatience. My lack of perfect judgment. My assumptions. My irritability.

And his innocence, his eyes looking to me for guidance, the unquestioning gesture of opening the car door because I said so. Just a little kid listening to his mother before school. I had no idea what was about to come. I had no idea what I was sending my son into.


I see right now in my mind’s eye his bouncing blond head as it crossed the street and walked to class. His little lunch box. His lack of backpack because he left it at grandma’s house. His tie-dyed t-shirt and tennis shoes.

The truth is I can handle my personality flaws, the things that make me not that great. We don’t need to be that great. But I don’t understand how we’re supposed to make peace with the fact that one error in judgment could result in a tragedy altering the course of so many lives. Well, I guess that’s the way with anybody, with any mistake, but it just seems wrong when it comes to children. It seems wrong that we are placed in the position to protect and care for these tiny beings that trust and love us completely, without question, and yet we aren’t given perfect judgment. We aren’t given 100% reliable insight. We are fucked-up humans who sometimes make decisions based on things that don’t matter, because the stars are aligned, or misaligned, or whatever.


It doesn’t seem right that my mind would scatter like that, fall apart like that, when I know the only important thing is my son’s safety. I’m generally the most defensive driver on the planet. I assume most people smoke crack before getting behind the wheel and plot my death as a pastime.

But today I made a mistake.

It isn’t one I’ll make again. But what other mistakes may come?

In 20 minutes I’ll leave to pick him up. I can’t wait to get him with me. I want to tell him “I’m sorry.” But it doesn’t seem worth it. How do you apologize for your humanity? How do you apologize for putting him a person in danger without knowing it? For being a fucking moron? I spent the day half-shaking at my stupidity. I want to fold him up under me again. I want to kiss his head 14,000 times.


Tonight is his dad’s 33rd birthday. We’re making him shrimp Louie. Rocket will want to help. He loves to cook. He loves salad, cutting toppings. We’ll cut tomato and avocado and egg.

We’ll make a cake.

I’ll tell him to be careful with the knives. I’ll watch carefully, so carefully, his tiny fingers and arms. His freckles and lips and giant trusting blue eyes. He’ll ask me what to do next. I’ll tell him. I know just what to do. I’ll be his mother one more day.

I’ll be his mother one more day.

And try to be better tomorrow.


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I have become “that mother” on Instagram

by renegademama

I have become “that mother” on Instagram and I hate it as much as you do. Well, almost.

I can’t stop posting pictures of my kids. I realize I’m doing it but I can’t stop. We’re supposed to post interesting things that happen to us. Often the most interesting thing that happens to me is “Hey look at my baby! Isn’t he cute? He’s cute right? Look how cute!”

And I feel better when you agree, because this is what I’ve got right now. This is kind of all I have.

Yeah, I feel a little pathetic, a little lost. I feel a little boring. I wish I had something more interesting to say.

I imagine I’ve been unfollowed by lots and lots of people.

Damn that Janelle can’t stop posting pictures of those fucking kids.


The other day I drove around for 3 and a half hours in retrieval of 3 of my 4 children. The timing was just wrong enough that I had 45-minute intervals between each pick-up, meaning I couldn’t really do anything between stops, so I just sat in parking lots and drove around for 3.5 hours. I nursed the baby in the front seat like 4 times.

By the end, I hated every human in my car, on the road, in the town, and possibly on the planet.

I work in Georgia’s co-op preschool so now I know all her little preschool songs. The other day Mac got home from work and we sang one together, for him. It was a song about a fish getting eaten by a bigger fish and then that one getting eaten by a whale and on and on and there are little hand motions.


Sing along folks. Here we go.

After preschool Georgia has “resting time” and I call it “resting time.” Who the hell talks like that?

And my sister-in-law told me about a ticket system for screen time and we’re trying it. Each kid has a little ticket jar thing made out of YES YOU GUESSED IT, Mason jars.


Sometimes I look around at this stay-at-home-mom life and I’m so bored and over it and tired I want to scream out my car window “I’m NOT THE MOTHERFUCKING BUTLERRRRR!”

(But I am.)

Other times I spend a good 15 minutes playing with my baby on his changing table. You take his diaper off and it’s like somebody plugged him into a power outlet. His little arms and legs kick up and down and he squeals and looks at me and I bury my nose in his neck and kiss him until I can’t kiss anymore because I’m worried he’s going to pee on my face. I laugh those loud, free cackles from a place more genuine than any place I’ve ever known.

But no matter how many times I drive kids around and wash diapers and kiss baby rolls and say stupid kid shit and nurse and cook and clean, I never feel like this is all I am. I never feel like I don’t want more. I never feel like there isn’t a “me,” hovering just beneath the surface, going through the motions but also holding on to something else.

Once again I realize: Motherhood is my occupation. It is not my definition.

It will never be my definition.

I did not become some “better version” of myself the second a baby exited my vagina. I did not suddenly morph into the G-rated Janelle model, complete with infinite patience and virtuous speech in soothing tones. My faults did not leave with the placenta. My interests did not transform into an age-appropriate Pinterest craft board. My personality did not fade into a Daniel Tiger theme song.

I stayed me. Well, sort of. A part of me went away, straight-up died, actually. And that was hard enough.

The externalities sure have changed, but the rest? Same. This gets confusing sometimes, because I read things like this and it seems some women BECOME this gig completely, as if who they are, or were, fades into spit-up and non-swear words and their kids become all of it and the end of it and I can’t relate. I used to wonder if that’s how I “should” be doing motherhood. Now I realize that’ just her gig. This is mine.

She says she can’t talk to her single friends anymore because she’s no longer dating. If the day ever comes that I can’t talk to people I love about their lives simply because I’m not currently experiencing the exact thing they are, please shoot me, point-blank, and walk away.

If I ever “don’t know how to not talk about my kids,” or “swear like a 2-year-old” (as opposed to a respectable fucking adult) read me some Hemingway and a touch of Bukowski and kick me in the shins, twice, for I will have reached full douchebag status.

They are my job. They are my family. They are the loves of my whole freaking life.

But I’m still, always, separate. They are not my reason for existence.

There’s a line in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale where a girl looks at her mother and says “I am not your justification for existence.”



I like my music. I like folk and Americana and bluegrass and the Dead. I fucking hate kid music. Every day I get in the car with my coffee to drive 2,000 children to school (well that’s how it feels) and I turn on my music and I often turn it on loud because it makes me feel human, and free for a moment, and it gets me going AND I LIKE IT.

I like hearing live music. We take our kids to festivals even though half the people are high and we drop our kids with people who love them so we can hit bars and clubs and concert halls at night, to dance and dance.

I like to read philosophy and literary theory. I like to read complicated books and ideas about gender studies and queer studies and critical race. I like to talk to scholars about how to teach writing. I don’t get to do this much anymore, but it’s never gone.

I cuss like a motherfucking sailor, but I try not to in front of my kids.  I fail.

I like to smoke cigarettes, but only do it when I camp or smoker friends come over. If I weren’t an alcoholic, I’d like to drink whiskey. I like to talk dirty to my husband. I like what sometimes follows.

I love my friends with kids. I love my friends without kids. I love to talk to them about their lives, without kids. I love that they help me with my life with kids.

I write. I’m a writer. I write in my head as I drive. I write in the shower. I write while doing dishes. Half my ideas flow down the drain with the warm milk from dinner cups. It’s okay, but I wish I had more time.


Sometimes my life feels like one giant battle to keep myself alive. Not physically. That’s easy. But mentally, spiritually, psychologically, because so much of the occupation of motherhood not only feels unfulfilling, but in direct opposition to my interests, personality and talents.

It’s kind of hard to write when you’re so tired your eyes are twitching, when you’re insane with irritability.

My days are days of trying to serve my kids, be their mother, help them grow, support the shit out of them, keep a house, govern their education, feed them, bathe them, nurse them and hold them WHILE MAINTAINING A SENSE OF MYSELF.

And I am, right now, 100% a “SAHM.” Stay-at-home-mother.

It’s a job. A hard one. An insane one. A good one.

And yeah, for now I’m that mom on Instagram. The slightly pathetic one on Facebook.

Someday I’ll be something different.

Or maybe not different at all. Surely the externalities will change.

I keep getting torn down, redefined, rebuilt and recrafted into people I’ve never meant to become, never knew existed, maybe don’t even like that much, only to look in the mirror at the end of the day and see the same damn woman staring back at me who’s always been staring back at me.

I tell her hold up, lady. It’s an occupation, not your definition. And you’re doing alright.

I hold my baby on my hip and try to write a few words.

What comes out is this.

And a new photo on Instagram.


my last photo on Instagram.


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56 Comments | Posted in I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING HERE. | October 10, 2014

Hey new moms, I’ve thought the terrible things too

by renegademama

One of my best friends is having her first baby. She’s a woman who has been fiercely independent her whole life. She has traveled to some ridiculous number of countries. She has a graduate degree from another country. She works for one of the top ten universities in America. She’s easily among the top 3 most hilarious humans I’ve ever known, and the smartest. And in a pinch, my kids may choose her over me. There’s that kind of love between us.


She’s expecting her first baby in January.

There are so many things I want to tell her.

There are so many things I want her to know are “okay.” I don’t fucking know what she should “expect.” How would I ever know that? Expect crazy. Expect weird. Expect beauty. Expect misery. But details? Nah those are hers to own. Hers to build.

The other day we were texting and she was expressing the understandable shitstorm of emotions within her – excited, terrified, depressed, in love.

And when I typed my response I felt a surge of sadness, and rage. This is what I wrote: “Even after you hold your babe for the first time it will come in waves. You’ll want your old life back. But not really. It really is a hard transition and nobody recognizes it. So talk to me and tell me all the dark shit in your brain.”

The sadness was that she might feel alone. That people might not talk to her about it. The rage was that she might feel alone. That people might not talk to her about it.


Talk to me and tell me all the dark shit in your brain.

I’m so sick of this shit, people, the way we bullshit new moms, the way we sit across from them 2 or 10 or 30 days postpartum, gazing at the perfect baby creature, talking about strollers or outfits or fucking muslin receiving blankets (although damn they are awesome) or whatever other nonsense we come up with to avoid the truth, or the other truth.

The way we small talk.

The way we chatter.

The way we talk about the baby. THE BABY IS FINE. WE CAN ALL SEE THE BABY IS FINE.

The way we give advice. The way we mumble this or that or this and hahahaha and oh how cute and you know what WHO FUCKING CARES?

Look at the woman. Look at her. Look at the woman sitting across from you on that couch. See the human transformed. See the human with a milky chest and belly still half-holding a baby and the tired in her eyes. See the woman who has become a mother and maybe doesn’t even know what that means yet and look as hard as you can into that fear and love and pain and ask her. Tell her. Open it all to her. And if you haven’t experienced it, listen. Ask. Hold and love.

Maybe she’s not having these thoughts, and that’s cool. But if she is, SHE NEEDS YOU TO LET HER KNOW you’ve thought it too, and it’s okay, and welcome to the motherfucking club.


from my journal, October 23, 2002

Talk to me, friend, and tell me all the dark shit in your brain.

I’ve been there.

I’ve fucking been there.

I’ve regretted having children.

I’ve thought they would go away. I’ve tried to run.

I’ve thought “I hate motherhood.”

I hate myself.

I hate this life.

I’ve ruined my life.

It will never be the same.

I’ll never get it back.

I’ve fantasized about leaving, running, forever.

Once, when my first baby was a year or so old, my brother (Ross) was just getting into medical school. I saw him there in his lab coat, just a photo online, and my body literally shook. The pain came from the earth, it seemed, up through my feet into my legs and up my whole body. I wept. I held my baby and wept. He was beginning the rest of his life. He was doing something going somewhere. I was 22 and paralyzed. I was going to be more. I was going to go somewhere, too. But all I did was nurse and drive and squash food and try to get some time to myself.

I scratched writing on paper and across my journal.

When I could find neither I would write on napkins.

But there was never any time to myself. I used to be me. WHO AM I NOW?

When I told my husband he didn’t understand. He looked at me helplessly and went back to work. On the weekends we drank. I tried to hard to “adjust,” to “get through it.”

But I couldn’t tell anybody how I felt because who thinks these things?


“child my child my joy my beautiful child I can’t go” – July 12, 2002

This baby, so perfect and smart and lovely.

And I made the choice to have her, and I love her. HOW COULD I EVER EXPLAIN THIS FEELING?

So it sat in me, like a dark mess of guilt and rage, but not even, because I couldn’t define it that well, because with it stood a love and longing and adoration for that child and motherhood. I watched her breathe to make sure she’s alive. I stared endlessly at her petal lips and eyes and cheeks and her breath to me is my breath. I want to consume her stay with her I love her so. When I’m away from her my guts feel exposed. My life fractured.


But the darkness, I guess. It could not get out. It was mine. Mine alone.

I was sure I was the only one thinking these thoughts. I had to be. Everywhere I looked I saw bliss and ruffles and yoga pants and pony tails.


God please help me. March 28, 2002

But now, oh now I know I was not the only one. There were hundreds of thousands of women before me and near me at that very exact moment feeling the exact same thing but what fucking good does that do me when nobody utters a word?


Friends come over and we talk about baby clothes. About what they’ve been up to. About how sweet it is to see Mac as a dad.

Friends come over and we talk about birth and sleep and “what my plans are” for the future.

Mothers grandmothers aunts sisters friends. We talk and talk and talk.

But we don’t talk about the darkness.

That’s mine.

They leave and I wonder again what’s wrong with me. They leave and I feel worse than before. They leave and I sink into the utter desperation, once again, left alone with my dirty secret.






One in the history of the fucking world




Dark and




I’m done with it, people. I’m done with the bullshit.

I am asking you RIGHT NOW to talk about the darkness.

Talk about the moment you nearly couldn’t do it. Talk about the second you curled onto your bed and had the worst thought you’ve ever had pass the center of your mind.

Talk about the thing you hid.

Talk to the woman.

Talk to the human.

Talk to my friend.

Goddamnit, talk to me.


With cracked voice and broken smile, I would have talked to you. I would have told you the dark, and then we could have shared it. And maybe I would have known the light is right around the fucking corner.

And my friend, it is.



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237 Comments | Posted in over-sharing is my talent | September 27, 2014

To the humans wondering why I’m always late

by renegademama

The other day a friend of mine and I were having a bit of friendly-text-banter about tardiness. She was like “Just start earlier” and I was like “talk to me when you have 4 kids” and she was like “I wouldn’t have 4 kids!”

And I told her she is a fucking smart woman, only I left out the f-bomb because I’m classy.

But it got me thinking about the whole late thing. Namely, that it happens with some regularity. I’m 90% sure my friends without kids tell me gatherings start 1-hour before they actually start because they know my, um, situation.

And I imagine repeated tardiness can get a little (ahem) annoying, so I thought I’d attempt to explain just for funsies what exactly happens when I’m trying to walk out the door with my 4 tiny dictators.

First, there’s the tween. She’s 12. She looks like she would be nothing but helpful. And often, she is. I mean she’s tall and mature and gets herself dressed and fed and stuff, but distributed throughout the crazy rad shit my tween is capable of doing is a mind-boggling penchant for snail-pace movement.

I don’t get it. She looks like she’s moving; I mean, her body is not actually stationary, but the tangible progress being made is AS IF she were standing still. It’s one of the great mysteries of humanity, I imagine.

She’s also, make no mistake, A KID. She’s not a do-it-all-for-me kid anymore, but she is for sure still a kid and as such, she sometimes gets way way way lost in her morning routine. Like one day she just forgets to set her alarm, or feed the dog, or make a lunch. Or homework. That’s due that day.

Yay fun!

Or she fights with her brother, who’s 9, over some profound injustice which, of course, WE NEVER ADDRESS because we’re always on her case instead of his. This is wholly not true because the “he” in question is hands-down the most annoying human to get ready with on the entire fucking planet.

I realize I haven’t tried getting ready with everybody on the entire fucking planet but it doesn’t matter. When you are relying on a human who literally forgets what he’s doing with the Tupperware he just removed from the dishwasher BY THE TIME HE GETS TO THE TUPPERWARE DRAWER and instead walks down the hall and opens the linen closet at which time he looks down at the Tupperware and thinks to himself “What am I doing here with this plastic at the linen closet?” then proceeds to put the Tupperware down and hold the kitten upside down because WHY THE HELL NOT PEOPLE?…

When you’re working with that, you’ve got nothing.

It’s all up in the air, folks.

Did you brush your teeth what about breakfast do you have a lunch why aren’t your shoes on did you feed the chickens where’s your homework OHMYGOD you didn’t do it DO IT NOW DO IT NOW eat a piece of toast get your backpack get in the car OHMYHELLDUDE your shoes still aren’t on?!

Every day, people. Every day. I mean it.

But you know what? Forget all this shit. There’s nobody worse than the Tiny Naked Insane Human. In fact, she’s so bad, only one of my handy helpful graphs will explain this nonsense.


You see what we’re dealing with here?

And then, there’s the baby. The baby. Oh, Arlo. Cute as a motherfucking bug’s ear. Doesn’t give a shit if we’re on time.

Possibly plans his bowel movements according to how late we are.

Always naps when we absolutely must leave.

Cries only when I really need him to be quiet.

Can’t walk.

So you see. All of this results in the following predicament:




NOBODY GETS BEHIND MY TIMELINESS EFFORTS except one kid. ONE. One out of 4, people.

Those are some bad odds, dude.


And yeah, I could wake up at 5am or better yet, 4:30am, to plan prepare and be AT THE READY for whatever nonsense may come up that day, but the truth is that would make me such an insane uptight pissed off mama I would need 13 Xanax to get through the morning and RECOVING ALCOHOLICS DON’T GET 13 XANAX.

Or at least this one doesn’t.

Plus, I usually don’t go to sleep until 11pm because the baby sleeps at 9:30pm and I need one point five hours to my SELF when nobody is touching talking yelling cuddling needing me, feeding off my nipple or otherwise using my body mind spirit emotions for the wellbeing of their overall persons.

Or, in short, leaving me the fuck alone.

But then I wake up at around 3 or 3:30 with the baby, at which time he spends the next hour or so making up for that big stretch of not-nursing (which he barely survived, apparently, because he now must nurse for ONE HOUR STRAIGHT), which makes me going back to sleep at 4:30 or 5.

So “just starting earlier” turns my 6 hours of sleep into 4 hours, which is, incidentally, the EXACT number of sleep hours that transforms me into an irritable insane overly emotional zombie.


So there you go, people who can’t figure out why I can’t seem to pull it together in the timeliness department.

It’s either tardiness or zombie.

Sometimes it’s tardiness AND zombie.

Or maybe I just suck.

Either way, I’m trying. God knows I’m trying. (BUT 3 out of my 4 kids aren’t!)

And I guess really that’s all any of us can do.

You with your one kid or no kid, me with the four I can barely handle (although let’s be honest. I was late when I only had one.)

We’re all fightin the fight, man.

All we can do, once again, is try not to be a dick, one bullshit morning at a time.



Are you or are you not working with my girl Heather Thorkelson yet?

She travels around the world, takes crazy ass trips to Antarctica, leads groups through Peru,

and does it all through her freelance work.

She’s willing to teach you how.

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She’s not just talking about it. She’s fucking doing it.

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I went to the mountains and remembered why we have kids.

by renegademama

Sometimes I get so full of self-pity I think maybe I could cut it with a knife, were it to materialize outside my body. Like a giant gray mass with indiscernible edges, and me, sitting in the center, looking at Instagram feeds of expat women living in foreign countries, or in big Craftsman homes with plants on the porch that aren’t dead and grass and bricks and stuff, or on farms in Vermont, or really, anybody doing cooler shit than I am.

Why the self-pity?

I don’t know why.

Because I’m a self-centered immature sot.

Because I’m an ungrateful wretch.

Because because because.

Because I’m a bad human being and you’re a better one.

Yes. Let’s get that out of the way. Cool.


Usually there’s some catalyst to my sadness, slight depression, profound sense of WHEN AM I GONNA GET SOME OF THAT GOOD SHIT?

This time it was losing my last source of income: the column I wrote over at allparenting. Ah, financial insecurity, old friend. Fear, my old buddy.

It just felt like too much. Suddenly I looked at my little baby and 3 other kids and thought “UH OH.”

But I can’t complain because I was the adult who decided to have a 4th child. I can’t complain because my choices got me here.

You can’t complain either. None of us can complain.

There’s always somebody worse.

That doesn’t help.

Fuck off.

(Can you follow the voices in my head? Yeah, neither can I.)


I hear you, Complainer-for-No-Reason.

Do you hate yourself for it, a little?

I do.

I know better.

I want to be better.  But I’m not. So let’s just sit with that. Shall we?


My husband’s been working seven days a week. And I’m here, with the four kids, that I can’t complain about. Because I had them. And I love them. And they’re gorgeous and healthy and we have a great house with wood floors and a red door in California, in the United freaking States of America. And we own it. I mean, sort of. We’re buying it.

There’s nothing wrong with my life. I know this.

I’m a lucky ass bastard.

I know this too.

Six years ago I was sitting alone in a Ford Taurus drinking Ancient Age whiskey and smoking Pall Mall cigarettes, about to get a divorce, staying in a room in my mom’s house, seeing my children occasionally.

What sort of piece of shit human gets ungrateful and full of self-pity after surviving alcoholism?

Well me, I guess.

I know my life is the best it could ever get.

Because I wake up every day free, or mostly free, and not dying so quickly, and like a normal human being.


But my heart and gut say otherwise, folks.

My heart’s all “This shit is meaningless. ALL OF IT.”

My gut says “When are things gonna not be so hard? Why did you have that last kid, moron? You clearly can’t afford these kids.”

I don’t fucking know why.

Because newborn breath. Because siblings. Because family. Because maybe I make crazy decisions. Because maybe I just did.

Because your logical-financially-sound-thoughtful decision making bullshit lifestyle doesn’t make much sense either. It doesn’t really seem to work either.

I know some people with money coming out their diamond-kissed ears and you know what they do?
THEY BUY MORE SHIT. They buy things until there’s nothing left to buy and then they look around and say “Is this it?” And they’re REALLY screwed because they’ve got nothing, and realize way late they were sold a big, mean lie.

And others, they make well into the 6-digit incomes and you know what they freak out about?


The wrong private school. The wrong this or that or whatever the hell. Paralyzed with fear these rich-ass human. They can buy the best of everything this town’s got to offer and you know what they do? FREAK OUT ABOUT CHOOSING THE WRONG BEST THING.

So your way sucks too, grown ups.


I don’t want to talk about it because it’s wrong, and I know it. The way I have this strange sense of being unfulfilled and a little bored, exhausted and uninterested, the persistent feeling that life was going to be more. I try not to think about my year in Barcelona, when the world opened to me in a way that made me feel so alive I would smile walking down the street like some broad in a motherfucking Hallmark movie.

Or when I was 19 and it all seemed so goddamn possible, so there. Just waiting for me to decide.

I don’t want to talk about it because it makes me an utter and total asshole, and that’s a tough thing to face.


So instead, I feel pangs of self-pity, moments of dark gray, when I see somebody who I think has it better.

I yell at my kids more. I cry sometimes. I wonder if it’s depression.

I wish I were healthier. More patient.

I wish I hadn’t gained so much weight.

I wish I lived in the forest. At the ocean. Anywhere. Somewhere.


Eventually I get so sick of myself and my wallowing and self-pity I drag my ass to the motherfucking wilderness.

While there, I see my nearly teen go fishing, catch a trout, clean it with her dad. We fry it up and eat it at dinner.

I see my toddler naked for all the warm hours of the day and the Labrador curled up next to her.

I watch my kids learn to play poker with their dad.

I tell my nearly 9-year-old stories about this and that when I was a kid and he sits riveted to my face. He looks at me like he wants to look at me all day for the rest of his life.

I see my husband smoking his pipe in the sweater I bought him 10 years ago, because he says it’s the thing to do when we’re at the cabin, the cabin his great-grandparents bought when his grandfather was a boy. His grandfather who was born in the 1920s. There are pictures of his dad as a baby on the wall.

I tease my husband because his shirt came up when he wrapped the baby on. He pulls it up higher. We have a smoke after the kids go to bed. I feel oh so bad. At 3am Rocket pees outside and looks at the stars for a minute. I do too.

I row onto the lake on a little fishing boat and I’m rowing backwards. The kids laugh at my idiocy. I jump in the cold mountain lake and feel 30 years of mistakes roll down my back as I get out of the water.

I watch the smile of my baby.

I watch the smiles of my other kids in the eyes of my baby.

I watch the fire throw strange light on the faces of these tiny sleeping humans.


And I remember.

I remember that this pain is mine and mine alone and it isn’t because of this life, now, these kids, this house, the money we don’t have.

It’s the ache in me that’s lived forever, down down down and it’s the one that reaches out to you, you there mother, yes you, and says I hear you.

Talk to me.

It’s the one that laughs hysterically, sings terribly, old 1980s songs, while the sun hits the kids’ dirty scruffy little heads and we row, back into life, to family.

Cracking the hell up, because have you got a better plan?

I didn’t think so.

So just talk to me.

I hear you, mother.

And I fucking love you, too. We’ve got a thousand beautiful things to see.

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