I can’t make you care about the agony of children

by renegademama

This morning my four-year-old son, Arlo, woke up on the other side of our king bed, pushed himself up onto his hands, looked over at me and yawned.

“Morning,” I said.

He gave me a big closed-mouth smile beneath wild blonde curls and scooted against me, as he always does, resting his head against my bare chest.

He slept in our bed until he was three or so. Now he sleeps in another room but invariably toddles in to join us around 3 or 4am. Somehow, I always know he’s coming. Do I hear his footsteps? I wake to watch him wander in the door, and I scoop him up and flip him into our bed, between my husband and me, where we all fall back to sleep.

This morning, he had a question. “Mama, why do you smell so good?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your body. It smells so good. Why do you smell like that? The whole house smells like you, it smells so good. Why does your body smell like that?”

He looked at me with real curiosity, evidently wanting a real answer. I told him I didn’t know, and kissed his head, and thought how sweet that is, a little guy wondering about the elusive smell of the mother – her skin, her sweat, her soap, her shampoo, her odor foul and beautiful.

Who knows what it is, really?

I remember my mother’s smell. I remember the feeling of being against her skin, her arm, the softness and warmth of her body. I remember it felt like home. Like everything would be fine as long as I could inhale that scent, the scent of something I knew like air, though couldn’t define or grasp.

It’s just the way we need our mothers, I suppose. The good ones, at least. The ones who mean all those things.

As a kid, I was preoccupied with the idea of my mother dying. Of her leaving and never returning. I wrote about it in my book. I would sit for hours on the couch, or what felt like hours, rocking and listening to “M.A.S.H” (her favorite show), willing her to not be dead, imagining what I would do if she were. I would work myself into a near frantic fury, sometimes crying, praying, begging God to let her come back, and in my little brain it was so real, the abandonment.

If she wasn’t in the room, she might as well be dead.

Eventually I would hear the garage door go up. I would hear her rustling on the porch.

Alive. Home.

She’d let me crawl into bed with her. I’d fold against her. Her smell.

Oh, the mother. She’s back.

My son asked me about that today, and it made me think of the children separated from their mothers at our borders, of the visceral, physical pain of a child yearning for her mother, of the actual blood craving a reconnection to all that she knows of home.

In this case, quite literally.

 

I wonder how you teach somebody to give a shit about that. To not care if the mother is a “criminal” who wandered across arbitrary national lines – although most of them are “guilty” of misdemeanors – to not care if she “shouldn’t” have done that thing, because we are talking about families.

We are talking about a child.

How do you teach somebody to feel the agony of a child aching for his mother’s skin? Her smell. The only one in the world.

The only one in the whole fucking world.

My mother always came back to me. Over time, I knew she would, and I could tell myself “She’ll come back.” But it didn’t help.

The yearning of a child isn’t rational. It isn’t reasonable and it isn’t intellectual. It is a yearning in the bones, in the blood, in the same blood that raced through the body we shared.

In our womb. In our waters.

I think of those children in beds alone, with no idea where their mother is in that very moment. A phone call or two. A few moments on video. But at night, in the dark, where is she?

Her actual body.

 

Why do you smell so good?

Because I am yours, son. Because we shared a body once, and when you’re young, it is still somehow ours – and for a long, long time, my body is, for you, that old, sacred home, the one we know in our blood but not our brains, that has no right to be tampered with, because it is our tiny shelter in a giant, unforgiving univers. For those few moments, I am all you have.

I don’t know how to make somebody care about that. Perhaps they forgot their own humanity, their own love and blood.

The smell of home doesn’t give a shit about borders. We deny a child that for political gain. To teach them a lesson. And these people do it in God’s name? The Bible?

How strange these people are, picking and choosing the book’s teachings. Baldwin calls this hypocrisy “self-serving moral cowardice.” Have you ever heard it stated more perfectly?

Because immigrants have “broken the law” (and this, you know, is up for debate), they deserve torture? Their children deserve torture?

Self-serving moral cowardice.

Well damn, I guess I should thank God I had the dumb luck to be birthed me in a nation where we could live safely, not forced to a border to survive. How noble of me!

And you apologists: Thank God you were born in a nation where you don’t understand fleeing your home with nothing but your body, and your baby, who wails for nothing but your sweet sweat. Now, “home.”

I can’t make you see a world you’ve forgotten. But how cold it must be where you live.

 

***

Every time I write about this country, if feels obscenely small and self-serving to share my book, and yet, well, I am trying to feed my family, and this is my contribution to the world right now.

Some words. Some truth. I hope it helps some people. We have to remember our creative work matters, maybe now more than ever?

So I’ll keep telling you about it, and this week, I had the nice surprise to learn that Amazon editors chose I’m Just Happy to Be Here as a “Best Book of 2018 So Far” in the

– wait for it –

HUMOR category (?).

Who knew Amazon editors had such a jacked up sense of humor? (This is not an insult.)

Anyway, that made me particularly delighted, because we talk a lot about the seriousness, and not much about the parts where I, at least, laughed my ass off writing it. Nice to see that aspect of it highlighted.

Thank you, Amazon editorial staff.

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37 Comments | Posted in FUCK TRUMP | June 25, 2018

You are not going crazy. America is gaslighting you.

by renegademama

Let’s get something really fucking clear right now: We are being gaslighted by our country.

At this point, without willful ignorance or staunch denial or some super special cocktail of both, there is no way to dodge the reality of our country.

Whatever hope any of us had (spoiler alert I had none) that Trump “wouldn’t be that bad” has crashed by now, and we are left with detention centers for children ripped from their parents’ arms, alongside a mural of our dictator.

Wait. We aren’t supposed to have a dictator.

When our President refers to a murderous dictator running a totalitarian state as “very honorable” and “very smart,” somebody who “loves his people,” stating that it’s an “honor to meet [him],” you have two choices: Admit Trump is dangerous as fuck and wholly anti-democratic or bury your head further in the motherfucking sand.

The ship has sailed. We are here. POTUS lies so much we don’t even care anymore. He refers to the free press as “our country’s biggest enemy.” That shit barely makes the news.

Meanwhile, Russia’s meddling in our 2016 elections remains unaddressed. Not only is it unaddressed, our President advocates for Russia on the global stage, aligning himself with the world’s dictators while shitting on our allies. (Sure am glad he’s taking care of that pesky threat known as “Canada.”)

They’re trying to gut health care, again. Net neutrality is gone.

Meanwhile, Trump attacks actors in misspelled tweets and the White House remains a revolving door of appointees and Antarctica is melting. We can’t even care about climate change. That’s like way low on the list, amiright? Think about that.

The hits just keep on coming, so, so fast. Every fucking day. And we’re expected to just carry on. On the one hand, what else are we supposed to do? We have to live. We have to feed our families and raise our kids and pay our rent.

But all this “normalcy” in the face of absolutely not normal at all creates a sense of dizzying and lonely dissonance. Gaslighting. The sycophantic GOP in Congress just twiddling its thumbs letting this shit all slide, as if it’s just business as usual. Gaslighting. Fox News has clearly become state propaganda and millions of Americans believe that shit. Gaslighting.

I walk around in a perpetual state of ARE YOU NOT SEEING WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? Even with some acquaintances. And family members. People are flat out fucking delusional. Somebody tried to argue recently that Trump is bring people “together.”

WHAT NOW?

Gaslighting.

Jesus, this sucks.

We are forced to carry on our lives in The United States of Fascism Light. We have to just keep on living. We see democratic principles being systematically annihilated every fucking day, maybe hour, and the never-ending news reels just cover it and cover it like it’s standard politics and the GOP does jack shit and we see what’s happening but all this inaction by the people in power tells us every day, all day, that everything is fine.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

I read Twitter and Facebook and comment sections of news articles. Trump supporters quote the Bible and call people liberal snowflakes, citing shit Obama did, rejoicing in some idea of regaining America greatness, of vague nostalgia, while they get fucked by the oligarchy and don’t even see it. Their bigotry is so rampant they’re just overjoyed at the prospect of “tough on illegals” without recognizing what it really means that we’re removing children from their parents. They love Trump’s posturing, his Big Man persona, failing to see how they’re being played. The rich simply rejoice in their tax cuts. Dizzying. Infuriating.

As if any of this is the fucking point.

This isn’t about us vs. them, folks. This is about the soul of our nation and thus the soul of its people, and it’s about where we’re headed, and how we built this, and whether or not we can survive it.

Am I overreacting? Being hyperbolic? Maybe. But explain to me a detention center for children with our President’s face painted on the wall. Explain to me a President attacking the free press. Explain to me a President who FLAT OUT DOES NOT CARE that Russia meddled in our elections. Explain to me his praise for Kim Jong Un. Explain to me his constant barrage of lies. Explain to me the Congress doing nothing to stop him.

I have no answers. How could I?

What I want to say to you, friends, is that what we have to do right now, every goddamn day, is look for the truth.

I’m not referring to the media. Yes, do that.

But right now, what I’m talking about are the artists. The people speaking the truth of humanity, of love, of freedom.

Read more than you ever have. Read James Baldwin and Toni Morrison and Tolstoy and Austen and Sylvia Plath. Read everyone. Read every fucking day, even just a little.

Follow @nitch on Instagram. Follow painters and poets and weirdos. Follow the ones making shit. Right now. Do it.

Get your ass to a museum and look at some art. Look at local art. Look at fancy European art. Look at photographs and sculptures. Watch people doing amazing things with their bodies and hands and minds.

Turn your music up. Turn it way, way up. Get thee to festivals and dance. Bring the annoying children. Dance with them, too. Dance in the living room. Turn it up so loud you think your ears may break. Your favorite songs. The ones that rip your heart out. The ones you loved when you were young.

We have to stay centered, friends, grounded, in life, in the people speaking truth, in those with the moral courage, then and now, to insist on the power and beauty and creative force within all of us, to revolt and resist and survive, or we will grow tired, and we will forget, and we will give up.

We are living right now in a nation that’s lying to us, every day, forcing us to deny and ignore what see with our own fucking eyes, what we know to be true, and that’s a horrible way to live. A horrible way to raise children. A demoralizing, confusing way to live.

Remember you aren’t crazy.

You know the truth and the truth knows you.

We must insist upon it.

And vote in November or I’ll kick your fucking ass.

I love you. Art. Art now.

He’s learning guitar and playing these old songs and the kids and I sing along. We have to not forget.

***

“I suppose some of us don’t have the luxury of neatly wrapped truth, of affirmations that rest on our tongue like peppermints. Some of us need to be doused in gasoline and set aflame, until the truth consumes us, and we have no choice but to recreate ourselves. A collision, I suppose, when one must choose to live or die.

I didn’t want to feel better. I wanted to live.
I didn’t want the pain gone. I wanted it to mean something.

And when I found my voice, I found a purpose for every moment I had lived. I found power in every blackened room in my mind, every fear, every molestation, every sad parent, every futile word and nightmare memory.

Because it led me to you, to the place where we are the same, to the place where words draw a line from my bones to yours, and you look at me and say, “I know,” and I look back at you, thinking, Well I’ll be damned, I guess we’ve been here together all along.”

 

42 Comments | Posted in politics | June 14, 2018

To the mamas who show up when I can’t

by renegademama

I’ve talked a bit of shit about things like the PTA. There a few reasons for this. The main one is I have a fucked up sense of humor primarily rooted in negativity and general disdain.

Don’t I sound fun?

My dad and I have a running text thread of things we hate. Just, you know, as we go through our day and hate things, we write them to each other.

You might think I’m a miserable human walking around in a perpetual state of annoyance, and if you thought this, you’d be correct. Sort of.

I am basically always irritated. The question is not so much if I’m irritated, it’s whether or not I’m acting on it.

But I’m not miserable. I’m far from miserable. At least I think I am.

Because I don’t actually hate everything. I just like to pretend I hate everything. Because it’s fun. And funny.

Stop making me explain myself. I feel weird. This is getting way too therapy hour.

My fucking point is: I cannot attend meetings because I hate them and everyone in them within five minutes.

All that patient talking. The thoughtful consideration of others’ ideas, even if they’re terrible. The discussing. The planning. People saying words like “paradigm” and “check in” and “ballpark timeframe.”

There’s always somebody in the room who:

  • misses the fucking point entirely;
  • gets the point but is so caught up in meaningless details we are clearly never leaving the meeting ever;
  • is chewing ice;
  • enjoys the sound of his own voice so profoundly he just talks for the hell of it, meaning once again we’re never leaving the meeting ever.

And therefore, I am either:

  • sitting silent trying to focus on not letting my unchecked rage show itself via my eyebrows;
  • on my phone so I don’t speak;
  • at a breaking point wherein I finally speak and then regret it immediately because I was a dick or tried to be funny even though it never works; or
  • smiling like a drunk person on mushrooms trying to make up for that thing I just said.

Accordingly, I am not the person who should attend meetings. If at all possible, I should stay away from groups of humans trying to accomplish things together.

Sartre said “Hell is other people.” What I’m sure he meant was “Hell is other people trying to accomplish something as a collaborative team.”

I do better if somebody just gives me a job. Like, Janelle, help these kids shape clay into the shape of a rhino horn. Hold their hands and make sure they don’t fall into the river. Cut these fucking bunny ears out.

Cool. Good talk. I’m gonna nail this.

I can bring shit to class. I can pay for stuff sometimes. I can bake lemon bars that will make you come. (You see? Bad fit for parent meetings.) I can teach like a motherfucker. I can go on field trips as long as you don’t make me engage excessively with the other chaperones.

These are things I have accepted about myself. We all have our talents.

This is my fault. Not yours.

And I know this. And thus, my shit-talking about overzealous parents devoted to kid activities is partially based in the fact that I genuinely find such things intolerable, and would rather touch the nerve currently exposed above my tooth due to a receding gumline with a piece of ice (I need to go to the dentist, I think), and the rest is because I, in fact, find these things funny. Me, and you. I’m an asshole. You’re very serious about “spirit week” or whatever the fuck.

Let’s laugh at ourselves.

But right now, at the end of the school year, I have to tell you this: I am so fucking grateful for the mothers who show up that I could puke.

Yeah, I know, “Dads come too,” but sorry, when I go, I see about 98% mothers and thus, I get to address the mothers.

A few weeks ago, this was sent home from the school:

I read it and thought Oh no. The garden. I fucking love the garden. The kids love the garden. SOMEBODY SAVE THE GARDEN.  

I considered volunteering, but I can’t. I have 20 hours per week in my office and about 900 hours of work. I can’t regularly take half a day a week away from that time.

I stared at the paper and wondered if somebody would show up, if somebody would pull through. I wished I could do it. I felt this actual, physical pull toward all those mothers who come through.

I had to rely on them.

A week or so later, I got an email (that I actually read – score!) thanking volunteers for stepping up and taking over the garden.

The garden lives another year.

And I tell you I almost cried. Because let me tell you, mamas who show up, you are taking care of all our babies when we’re not there. You are holding their hands and helping them put little seeds in dirt and you are showing them where their finished painting goes and helping them fix their sculpture after it falls over or that asshole Billy smashes it.

You are taking pictures we can’t take and uploading them and singing songs we can’t sing and you are loving these little ones in our place.

It’s so cool, really, when you think about it. When you think about mothers (and FINE, the 2-4 fathers) showing up every week for reading circles and song circles and art circles and garden time. All that shit I make fun of. It’s a lie. I love you and I love you for showing up when we can’t.

I love you for being a person I don’t know who helps my babies.

I can’t be there, but damnitall to hell, Karen, I am grateful for you.

Be as annoying as you want. I won’t be there, and for sure some of the shit y’all come up with is overthegoddamntop, Karen, but you saved the garden. And in doing so, sister, you saved my ass. You kind of, over and over again, save my ass.

And I don’t even deserve it.

I’ll bring you some lemon bars and not speak. And I’ll think of you when my little one smiles, telling me what she did at school that day.

 

***

 IN CASE YOU MISSED THE DINOSAUR PORN PASSAGE: 

“Let’s not talk about how we all became better versions of ourselves the day we became parents, and, please, would you stop pretending you did? Because your holier-than-thou shit makes me worry you watch dinosaur porn after the kids go to bed. Your steadfast focus on seasonal cupcakes and organic kombucha concerns me. Look, I’ve got some too. I know all about gut flora. But please. Is that all there is?”

 

“Mama, did you leave me on accident?”

by renegademama

Arlo turned four yesterday. I didn’t post about it until 9pm because I thought maybe if I didn’t say it out loud, it wouldn’t be real. Yeah, I guess I’m there. I told myself, “Well, he wasn’t born until 11pm, so technically, he’s not four yet.”

I’m not sure what that’s about. Maybe that he’s our last baby. Maybe because I’ll never be done. They say you’ll “know when you’re done.” That you’ll just feel it in your bones. Fin.

Maybe. Does that mean we’re not done? Does that mean we need to throw kid #5 into the circus? I’m not asking the internet for family planning advice. What I’m saying is, I’m not sure if the ache I have in my heart means we’re “not really done” or if this is just the way it feels for some of us, the way it hurts.

That in my family, we are both supposed to not have another kid and I ache for another kid.

It’s the anticipation, I think. I don’t even like being pregnant. I’m pretty sure being pregnant is the 9th circle of hell. And I’m 39. Like, kinda old for this shit. And they turn into teenagers. I have two of those. Those things are a lot. And as one of them says, “You can barely handle the four you have, Mother.”

It’s the newborn against my chest. It’s that moment of inhaling their necks, the vernix still on them, when you take a breath of them and it’s like inhaling your own existence. Your own blood. All you ever had of love.

The ecstasy of that moment. The simplicity of newborns. And infants. Hold. Rock. Change. Nurse. It’s simple, but not easy.

But maybe it’s that I’ve spent the last year and a half gone, a lot. Away writing. I wrote mostly on the weekends. I’d leave on a Friday, lock myself into a motel room, and write until Sunday afternoon. On Monday, Arlo and the kids would be back in school. And I’d be in my office. Maybe it’s that I feel I missed most of his third year, the year that feels like the last of the toddler years. The last of the baby-ness.

 

Four isn’t big.

Yesterday when he woke up, I asked him, “Are you four now?” And he said, “Yes, but I’m still cute and I’m still little.” Even he knows four isn’t big.

But it feels big.

When I came back from two weeks gone for my book tour, he slept with me that first night, and as we were falling asleep, he looked up at me with these curious, endless eyes and asked, “Mama, did you leave me on accident?”

I caught my breath. “Sort of,” I said.

Then he got really serious and said, “Don’t ever do that again.”

I laughed, but felt it its weight. A little boy assuming his mother left on accident. Surely she wouldn’t take off on purpose. Why would she do such a thing?

I didn’t leave on accident, little one. I left on purpose. I left because I’m a writer. Because seven years ago I started writing and when I cracked open that door of words, they just kept flooding in like the most relentless motherfucking house guests and my whole life changed. They weren’t leaving. I had to move shit around to accommodate them.

It still hurts to walk out. The parties I missed. The bedtimes. The school events. The year of three.

 

I have spent the last 1.5 years walking out of my home regularly and for extended periods, sometimes for as long as a week, but I’ve almost always had a little side gig.

I had a desk job for a while. I taught writing at colleges. I went to grad school for a minute. But the central focus of my life during all these years has been my babies. My house. My marriage.

And then, it became this book, and it wasn’t just when I was away writing. I was writing when I was home. I was thinking and working on it in my brain. My family would speak to me and I didn’t even hear them.

Mama, gone.

I could see I had been consumed. I could see this wasn’t a book I could write as a little side gig, on occasion, when the opportunity presented itself. I was writing a book on addiction and motherhood. I was trying to make sense of how we can love our kids and hurt them, how sometimes love isn’t enough. And then, my maternal grandmother was murdered and I saw I was writing a book about lineage. About my mother and her mother. And my father’s mother. I was writing about being a daughter. Their sins, and mine, the way I failed them, the way they failed me. And how, in the end, we have only our blood between us. And how, perhaps, that is plenty.

This isn’t something I could write on a Tuesday at Starbucks. No, I had to leave. I had to leave in mind and body and I had to not come back very often. Everything in my life became a side job. Everything because a silly practice to get through until I could work that chapter out. That idea out. That sentence out.

Maybe it’s a stupid thing. Maybe it’s a silly sacrifice, but when you believe in something, you know, you do it. I believed in this book and I still do.

 

I left my kids before. For two years we were apart, and then for one year we were half-apart, and once, when I came home after a long, alcoholic absence, I walked in the door of my mother’s house, and Rocket came running to me in the entryway, and said, “Mama, home.”

I fell to my knees and held him, and couldn’t respond, because I knew I wouldn’t stay. I knew I couldn’t stay. I had passed the point when I was able to delude myself into thinking I could promise him anything.

Those words – mama, home – never left me. I wrote about them in the book. I think I mentioned them here on the blog perhaps, but in my mind, they’re never far.

A week ago, I came home from a meeting and Arlo looked up at me with the same blue eyes his big brother had when he was a little boy, and with a steady gaze, he said, “Mama, home.”

I caught my breath.

I had never heard those words since the day Rocket spoke them at three years old. I had never heard those words outside the chambers of my own memory, where they rattled around like an old, sad friend.

Arlo has said it every day since.

“Mama, home” – just randomly throughout the day, and each day he’s said it more and more, until yesterday, he must have said it three or four times.

“Yes,” I said.” “Arlo, I am home.”

And it felt a little like forgiveness.

Like it’s all connected. Like the boy ten years ago is somehow the boy standing before me today, uttering the same words, but this time, I am here, even when I’m gone, and I’ll return as long as I’m breathing, and Arlo knew it when he said it. A declaration. A statement of fact. A seeing.

It’s that blood again. In the book I wrote, “we remain in the blood of our mothers.” There’s a lot more to it than that. I won’t go into it here.

But that’s how it felt, again. The circle. The connection. The blood running between us. The blood that took me away, and made me return, and gave two brothers the same words across their lips, to speak a decade apart, to the same woman, who’s home, sort of.

We can only be who we are. In the end, it’s that inexplicable thing that holds us.

Maybe that’s why I ache on his birthday.

Maybe that’s why I ache for the moment when I inhale the scent of myself in another body, when nothing can separate us yet, and I’m inarguably, and fully, enough.

I think that’s what the boys mean by “home.”

*******

We’re all facing the “most sacred job in the world” armed with nothin but ourselves. 

I insist there’s beauty right there. And a shitload of humor. A SHITLOAD OF FUCKING HUMOR. Because it’s funny, goddamnit, the whole thing.

And I wrote that too.
That part was really, really fun. Alongside even the most intense parts of that book, I was laughing my ass off (IN MOMENTS, okay, I’m not a monster). I may be a monster.

Somebody messaged me today saying her favorite passage in the book was the dinosaur porn one. Here it is:

“Let’s not talk about how we all became better versions of ourselves the day we became parents, and, please, would you stop pretending you did? Because your holier-than-thou shit makes me worry you watch dinosaur porn after the kids go to bed. Your steadfast focus on seasonal cupcakes and organic kombucha concerns me. Look, I’ve got some too. I know all about gut flora. But please. Is that all there is?”

 

Motherhood is driving around in circles.

by renegademama

And in today’s episode of “shit nobody tells you about parenthood,” let’s talk about the amount of driving involved with this endeavor.

Could also be called, “If this is sacred, why am I so bored?”

I mean, I get it. Motherhood is a really beautiful thing. At least 14 seconds of it each day take my fuckin’ breath away.

But the rest of it feels a little more like vapid routine blended with odd smells and existential crisis.

The good news is, my sense of the hyperbolic remains intact.

So, our kids’ school is about 15 minutes away from our house. It’s a long story involving schools and where we can afford to live and blah blah blah, but the point is: My daily driving routine is something along the lines of unbridled bullshit.

For two years, I had to leave my office at 2:15pm to get my kid at 2:30pm, at which time I would sit in my car with said child or run to the store because Rocket didn’t get out until 3:05 – who the fuck invented that plan? – then I would drive across town to pick up the teenager and her carpool, circle back to my house, drop off two kids, drive back near my house to pick up the toddler, then go home.

The process took two full hours.

Then I brilliantly learned about an after-school sibling program (that’s always been around, FYI) for $40/month where your little kid can dart around a gym for 35 minutes, guarded by teenagers, waiting for their older sibling to get out of school.

The discovery was perhaps the happiest moment of my life.

So now my driving is 1.5 hours. Sometimes Mac and I share it. Those are the good days. Sometimes he does it himself. Those are the orgasmic days.

Sometimes he’s working so far away he can’t get there at all. Sometimes he’s doing that for ten months at a time.

Those are not orgasmic days.

By the time I get home after that drive, I feel like I’ve run a marathon naked in the snow. But even that would be more rewarding since at least I’d be burning calories and it’s at least weird. You know, a good story.

In between road rage, car line pick-ups, double-parked motherfuckers, the mess of my minivan – partnered with the fact that I, in fact, drive a minivan – back pain from sitting so long, bickering children, spilled milk products when I can’t even figure out where they got the fucking milk, whining demands for what music is played and WHO GOT TO PICK THE LAST SONG, the list of paperwork I’m supposed to sign as well as the shit we were supposed to turn in yesterday that I was also supposed to sign – there’s me, wondering if perhaps there was going to be more.

Or was there? I kind of signed up for this, didn’t I?

Our life is the way it is because we constructed it this way, so why am I complaining?

First, because it feels good.

Second, because I think so much of motherhood is this really vapid shit nobody talks about, tasks and routines that are so heavy and dry, just the same thing each and every day – and it’s rarely fun, and it’s not particularly rewarding, and yeah, I’ll say it, it doesn’t feel “meaningful.”

The feeling I get in these beats of motherhood – in the daily uniformity and yet never consistency because who the fuck knows what mood the toddler or teenager will be in today?

The feeling I get sometimes is that my life has become nothing.

And by extension, I have become nothing.

 

I don’t feel this way now, as in, this very moment. I just published a book. I just got back from a book tour.

But I began writing this blog post in March, just a couple of months ago, then abandoned it, probably because I had to drive somewhere.

How quickly things change.

How quickly things return to the same.

I’m riding the high of your messages to me, your comments that you see yourself in the book, in the depiction of motherhood I explored and worked on for two years. I worked my ass off, away from my children. I gave it everything I had, much of it alone. I worry about book sales and I’m hustling to get this book into the world’s hands, and it’s hard, and it’s all-consuming, and terrifying, but in between, I drive. I drive around in circles, and come home to a thrashed house and dinner to be made.

I drive and drive and drive.

 

I know that when this all dies down, I’ll find myself there, again. Back on the same old track. Wondering where I went. Wondering if I’m gone.

I think this is how it goes, back and forth, looking for ourselves in these tiny moments, often drowned out by the roar of 2 hours in a messy car, again, listening to bickering and searching for that paper we lost and realizing one kid forgot his instrument and the toddler is somehow lacking a shoe, and me, knowing somewhere this what I wanted, though I get to hate it, too, now, and maybe forever.

Thank god it’s almost summer. Thank god we just keep rolling on. Surely right around the corner it will all feel synthesized, right?

No.

It will feel the same, but I’m glad I get to talk to you, and when you see me in my fucking minivan, you’ll know what I’m thinking. And if we see each other, we can’t be disappeared.

Maybe that’s the story I’m writing now.

Maybe that’s the story we’re all writing.

***

Have you checked out that book I wrote?

I wrote it for you,

that’s for damn sure.