I wandered absentmindedly through the yard in the direction of the goats, reading my son’s paper with one hand, and carrying a bucket of feed in the other.
I stood at the fence, not looking up from the paper, and patted Honey’s head affectionately. She bleated softly and nuzzled my hand. I looked down to smile at her and realized she was on MY SIDE OF THE FENCE! An escapee!
She had squeezed under a section previously hidden from her by a deep layer of snow, now gone in the fifty degree sunshiny first day of Spring.
A rather extensive chase/reign of mayhem ensued, including an unexpected trip into and through THE HOUSE. And over my freshly washed floors. And much to the delight of my children.
My head is absolutely spinning. I love my kids and raising them has definitely stretched me in ways I’d never dreamed and made me a better person.
But lord help me…The teen years…. The hormonally driven wild highs, followed by sudden and dramatically fast drops, swooping up only moments before impact and soaring again and sucking everyone in the path of the storm along with it.
I never know which version of my teen will be the one walking through the door or whether it’s going to be a dance party or a red wedding.
The only thing less stable than a teenager is a martini glass filled to the rim with nitroglycerin, teetering in a tray carried by a blindfolded circus bear riding a unicycle on a tight wire that’s being yanked on by clowns.
And even then, the outcome is more predictable and less stressful. Lord have mercy…
One of my littlest littles at work tucked a note into my hand as he swooshed around me and past me in a blur of excited energy and relatively controlled chaos. He delivered it with a brief, tight hug, a thickly lisped plea for juice, and tore on to his next adventure further down the hall.
I had slipped it into my coat pocket quickly in order to accommodate his request before leaving to head home to my own busy brood, a long list of errands along the way.
This morning I pulled on the same coat to meet a friend for coffee and found the folded and crinkled paper. My heart melted at the bright crayon flowers, the carefully shaped letters phonetically spelling out words that curved around the edge of the page to fit. “Ellie I lof you”.
My job is a hard one. Children come to us in such crisis and pain, often expressed in anger because they are just hurting so much. They just want to be loved and to love and who could ask for a better job than that?
When I was a little girl I was afraid of my own voice. I was afraid that if the time came when I really needed to make myself heard, to cry out for help, no sound would come out. No help would come to the voiceless.
Silence was also comforting to me. Keeping painful things away from the spoken word meant I could cocoon myself with my memories and seal them away from the rest of the world. Allowing them to break into sound on my tongue, to let them live in the ears and the air around me just could not be allowed to happen.
My own mother has a powerful voice. She never hesitated to express what she was feeling or thinking and encouraged me constantly to know my own worth. Still, I struggled.
While my mother lived life out loud, I lived my own in my head and I worried about how I could possibly bring the world inside myself into harmony with the world outside.
I was painfully shy and only managed to emerge from my shell when I could pull on a character and slip onto a stage, free to be as loud as that version of me could be.
It was empowering. To stand on a stage, to inhabit someone else’s skin.
I could say and do and be anything I could dream of. I wanted that feeling to last forever, but always the moment I stepped into the wings, my voice became strangled and afraid and my world seemed confined to those anxieties. I lived there such a very long time. The world I could never escape.
It was a child, the heartbeat of a child, actually, that pushed me to start peeling back the layers of my cocoon, to shake and spread my damp wings for the sunlight. It took motherhood to tap into a power inside myself I never knew I had.
With each child that came into my life, a fierce determination came with it. A determination to instill self love, pride, and a courage to fly as far as their dreams dared them to go.
I started running after the birth of my 5th child, just telephone pole to telephone pole, adding another each time. It was embarrassing and hard and I felt foolish. I’m a slow runner, but I never give up.
I just wanted to be able to run a few miles in the sunshine, to feel freedom and strength. I wanted to experience that release. What was so unattainable started to move closer to me.
I decided to force myself to aim for something so big and wide it couldn’t help but grow me in its pursuit. A half marathon. It was something I never in a million years thought I could do as I ran telephone pole to telephone pole to 5k and then further.
I ran in silence. I ran in tears. I ran face to face with my thoughts, and I ran into and out of their path as my feet found the earth.
I ran that half marathon and it was just the beginning. It was time to break free from that cocoon of silence and let my heart speak too.
It was agonizing. It stretched me. It gave me the space to howl and cry out and even to scream. And then I spoke. I spoke my truth out loud. I found my own voice and with it the power to move mountains. And I found someone buried deep inside myself and aching to breathe free. I found a girl who knows her worth.
I swear to god I’m my own worst enemy but this takes the cake. On my way to the gym I noticed a potted (long dead) plant in the middle of our driveway nudged/nibbled there by my goat. Hand to god. Without a thought I went to kick it over into the yard with my slipper clad foot (yes, slipper clad. I keep my sneakers in the gym bag and you all remember yesterday’s plumbing disaster, so slippers were as dressed up as I cared to get. Judge if you must).
Turns out a dead potted plant in 14 degree weather makes it equivalent to kicking a large rock of equivalent size. My big toe is twice the size of its twin on the other foot, a few different colors, and twenty times angrier. It hurts like a motherf’cker if I even breathe on it.
Still hopped to the gym (because I’m not about to let myself off that easy) and managed 30 minutes on the elliptical Hell machine. I’m too tired to shower, grumpy and still chubbier than seems fair after the last 24 hours. My foot is now up, big toe on ice, middle finger extended to the universe. Future me is laughing. I hope like hell future me gets a great blog out of this, but now me is writing this up as is.
Red nose because it’s damn cold in this house, dark circles because why sleep when your brain wants to spend the night thinking about the plumber, the burst pipe, the drenched and mushy fallen ceiling tiles filling totes around the Christmas tree downstairs and creative ways to pay for all of it. No make up because why bother today, and two large chai lattes with double shots of espresso because a momma soldiers on. Bring on the day!
I had a good day, no a GREAT day. It was busy and long but I hustled and flowed with my work peeps like a finely tuned machine.
I was tired but made the extra stop to grab things for dinner since kid #5 was still at play rehearsal, and kid #4 was with hubby out of town for a late central district rehearsal, not due home until 10pm.
Got home late from work to find that a pipe upstairs burst, part of the ceiling over the Christmas tree in the living room fallen in (yes, that’s still up because clearly I do not have my shit together), large totes placed to catch the dripping water and falling tiles, and the house cold AF because the oil ran out. Don’t know what “AF” stands for? Google it. It fits. And it doesn’t stand for awesomesauce.
Son number three and I stood with our coats on eating dinner in the kitchen like it was Passover, then I grabbed my keys, my phone, called for the dogs and patted son #3 on the shoulder and said “well I’m gonna go sit in a warm car with three dogs outside of the high school to wait for your sister. Have fun pouring diesel into the side of the house, Don’t forget to bleed the line,and feed the chickens. Later babe.”
An hour later kid #5 and I stared tired and cold at the mess. Kid #3 was plugged in to a video game and chatting remotely with kid #2 but took time to call over his shoulder “The plumber is coming “some time tomorrow”.
I could not think of a better motivation to turn around and go to the gym for a run. It certainly warmed me up and calmed me down.
*sigh…at this rate I’ll be trading hand jobs and hard labor to cover the repairs. At my age I don’t think my street value will make this a quick exchange of goods and I’m pretty sure it will knock me out of the running for sainthood. I’m also pretty sure that ship sailed years ago but still, it would have been nice to make it to the finals. Screw it. The degenerates always have the best stories to tell anyways.