Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sweater Weather

Every year, the transition from summer to fall is more than just the leaves morphing into color, picking apples and digging through sweaters.  There's something else between melancholy and mindfulness ..... and feeling strange that both can exist simultaneously. 
The summer months are filled with exposure and expectation. The days are long and lean, soaked in salt water while the nights are a cricket-filled symphony- easy to lull to sleep.  But, August has an abrupt ending and almost immediately the early morning air changes from hazy to crisp and the past comes rushing back.  

I remember the silhouette of my mother calling for me from the side door,  wiping away my runny nose after playing outside in the fall.  I remember the kitchen in the house I grew up in and the smells of chicken soup, apple crisp and sweet candles my mother used to make.  I remember hiding under the kitchen sink every night when I'd hear my fathers truck pull into the driveway and anxiously await for him to find me.  He always acted surprised to see me in there!  I remember sitting around the kitchen table and talking about our day and it always felt warm and safe inside my home.  I remember imagining what it would be like to see my family from the outside of the house, looking in and thinking how lucky I am.  The smells and sounds of fall remind me of those times.  Still, as an adult the season makes me feel safe and warm.  It's forced me to find those old recipes my mom used to make and recreate them for my own kids, passing memories down.  Carving pumpkins, warm sweatshirts, back to school routines, soccer games and hot chocolate .... The expectation of summer to be out until the sun vanishes at 9 - is replaced with my favorite blanket at 5 pm and a good movie, guilt-free.  The movie and blanket are even more wonderful when the leaves turn to snow.  

Sometimes a sweep of sadness rushes over me too as the sun rays change its direction, and new shadows form.   Sentimental ties to the past, missing "being parented" and longing for those lost along the way.   The upcoming hustle of the holidays seems daunting,  but like any parent I love seeing my kids enjoying the performance someone else is producing. I'm the producer now, and I'm amazed by what I can throw together.  I'm amazed by my own parents.  The anticipation, the safety of the dark, the stillness.  The fall reminds me that the gifts provided to me as a child, has provided the gifts to my own children.  Blessed by the past.  

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Wyatt Henry and the run for my money.

And when I say "run" I mean run like from a burning building, or to a finish line. Wyatt is one of three loves of my life. Born in July of 2007 with dimples your fingers could get lost in, Wyatt is truly his own person. My pregnancy with him was somewhat of a sadistic comedy show where the star of the show (me) would vomit her way through New England managing to eat only pre-packaged, out-of-season watermelon and orange soda for the first 3 months. I knew this kid would be trouble of the best kind by the second hospital stay from dehydration. And sure, I complain about him being crazy and tough to handle but the truth is - I wouldn't want him any other way. He's an amazing little spitfire who hits the ground running at 6 am and crashes and burns around 8. It's a long day for the little guy, but I assure you its a longer day me. He's a typical "younger sibling", competing over nothing, outgoing, extroverted and curious but he's unique in that he absorbs everything he sees and tells everyone with the great detail of a Key Note Speaker. A few years ago at camp, a woman from an aquatic center dropped by with sea creatures (lobsters, clams, crabs) to show the kids. Wyatt got into trouble for not listening (not surprising because he wants to learn by doing, not hearing). He apparently picked up his friend Mason's hand and began hitting him with it trying to be funny. For him, this type of erratic and impulsive action is as common as breathing. But after dinner that same night he began explaining the difference between the "crusher" claw on a crab and a "Pincer". So, while he was playing with his friends hand and being spoken to by the teacher - he was filing away the info about the crab. Now, I'm not sharing that info to say "wow, look at how smart my kid is".... I'm simply saying this because, well..... he's smart. When he finally drifts off to sleep each night, I find myself starring at him like I would a still hummingbird. I touch and smell his hair. I look at each finger, some with the days dirt still caked under the nail and I can't help but to smile. As mischievous as this little person is he is absolutely
perfect for me. He is a free spirit so loving and kind but so curious and adventurous. He tells me he want to go to Vegas and be star. He wants to dance and sing and make people smile. As much as I'd like to keep him safe in a box with me for all eternity - the day I saw him for the first time, I knew I was releasing him to the world. I had no choice but to set this bird free - to fly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Moving on.....

You all know I've been trying to move for FIVE long years. It's not that I'm incapable of actually packing boxes and moving. It's just impossible to move while being held prisoner in shackles by Wells Fargo. Our small condo is worth about 1/10th of what it was was when we bought it in 2006. It's served its purpose over the last few years, keeping us warm and cozy but like most people with kids, not having enough space is always an issue. To put in bluntly, when your husbands' tool box lives on the bedroom dresser - it's time to pack up and go. 

When I was 27, I bought my first place - alone. I had $5000.00 to my name and with little debt and a decent job as a news writer I was able to walk into Coldwell Brokerage, hand over my last year's W2, a few pay stubs and purchase a 2 bedroom condo in an old mill building in Manchester. My mortgage was just under $400.00 per month, included heat and hot water and not far from downtown. Fast forward 2 years and I was pregnant with Cooper, Pete had of course moved in more than a toothbrush and things got a bit tight. When Cooper turned one, we decided to put the condo up for sale and move north to Franklin for a bigger and better house. The house on Edwards Street was adorable but the town, ahem - was not. Had we known about the vast number of crack heads and registered sex offenders, or the fact that if you are not a teacher, a cop, sell your own jelly or own a funeral home, there are no jobs.....we would have thought twice.  Another life's lesson.  

Just two years later in 2006 (and thank god before the housing market shit the bed) we put the Franklin house up for sale and decided to move back to Manchester. ("Hey look kids, Big Ben!") Our original plan was to live in the condo, save money for a down payment and finally buy our dream home. But much like the movie "UP", life is what's happening when you are making other plans. Cancer took Pete's mom in 2006, we had another son in 2007, Pete's job transferred him to Tennessee in 2008 and in 2009, the housing market tanked! 4 families in our condo complex up and moved. Neighbors went into foreclosure and our condo - which we have paid faithfully on every month for five years began losing value by the day. It was heartbreaking. Pete eventually moved back home after earning quite a bit of money for our new place, but as week's turned into months and months into years - it seemed like we were would never find a way out of the condo. That is, until now. But this house is another story.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Time. The only truth.

I can't believe this is actually the first opportunity I've had to sit and write since August 11th. Well, that's sort of a lie. I've had time, I just decided not to make any. Life's like that though. Just today, I had a complete meltdown at work. My tears, frustration and loss of sleep is the result of time - and lack of it. Not enough seconds in each minute to complete everything needed and expected of me. Doesn't it seem like there is never enough time? You love your kids, but they grow too fast. You can't wait to go on vacation - but you blink your eye and your back in your office chair, broke with a faded tan. Sometimes I force myself to not think about the things I'm excited about hoping to prevent the event from coming to fruition. In contrast, the moments I dread I can't seem to shake. Imagining Cooper and Wyatt going off to college, getting married, moving away....Moments that I'm sure will bring buckets of joy, pride and sadness when the time comes. I know my boys are on loan, but knowing that fact doesn't make the inevitable any easier. Lots of mom's I know - especially those with kids under 10 can't wait until they have their own lives back again - an empty house and an open road. Ah, Pete and I can take that cross country trip out on Route 66, and sleep in on the weekends!! Then I hear Wyatt's feet at 4 am run across the floor and jump into my bed to snuggle and I wonder how can I ever have a morning without this? Or seeing Cooper play his Lego's, building these amazing multi-layered jets knowing the kid wants to be a pilot and one day he will. I know these boys will always love me, but they will need me in a different way than they do now. And although that's the circle of life and how it's suppose to go, returning to "my life" when the best life I've know has been with my sons will be impossible. Your probably thinking - "you have plenty of time". A river of force, such a constant and inevitable thing. Time, it's really the only truth.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

And so it goes....

So - a few weeks ago, I attended my high school reunion. A reunion after 20 years seemed awkward at first, yet so comforting at the same time - like the old pair of Doc Martens collecting dust in the back of my closet. Exchanging smiles and hugs with people who knew you before you knew yourself. The "you" before the adult took over and went into battle! But for me anyway I couldn't help but wonder, "Am I good enough? Have I done enough with my life? How did people remember me? How do they see me now?" As I walked into the bar (with some of my favorite friends from back in the day, Scottie, ML, Lexy) it was like deja vu. Lindsey Matson was there to greet everyone at the door. I remembered seeing her for the first time during "move up day" in 6th grade and thought she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. And Kristin Guinta - who I sat next to in 11th grade Law class, what an infectious laugh on that one! Every time I turned my head - there was another face, another memory. It was amazing, wonderful and hilarious. Sure, the same old groups sort of evolved as the night settled in but it didn't feel like it did 20 years ago. It was open and relaxed and kind. To hug Jason Riley - my very first boyfriend from 5th grade but someone I regretfully never spoke with in high school, or Sandown's own - Wayne Britton - those two looked amazing! Elicia, Jessica, Goonie, Jay, Charity, the list goes on and on. I couldn't help but to feel a sense of pride being back together with these amazing people and sharing stories, coloring in the gray of the past 20 years. Knowing nods of times shared but experienced separately. Seeing everyone again felt like getting on stage at the end of a huge performance. Although not every scene back then included everyone at once, we were all there. A wrinkle in time. My reunion sorta felt like that - only better! A curtain call complete with dancing, bathroom chats, a 3 am photo shoot with Dan Lane and lots of beer. Here's to another 20.... but may we all meet sooner than that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The hardest years

Nobody ever told me marriage would be so hard. The more I talk with my married girl friends, the more I hear the same thing: "things just aren't the same as they were". "Were" meaning: pre-children. When I was pregnant and waddling around buying baby clothes and crying for no reason, Pete and I were close. We'd talk and laugh and sleep in! We'd make time to play, and have fun. Not long after Cooper was born those lazy Sunday mornings turned into us practically drawing straws to see who was going to wake up with Cooper. I don't know how many times one of us would say "I was up yesterday morning... it's your turn". It's not that we didn't love becoming parents - we fell in love with him the moment he was born, but something happened to us. We became tired, cranky and short. I think of some of the negative things I say to Pete that I would never in my wildest dreams say to any other person in my life. And I'm sure he feels the same way. It's like we are each other's sounding board for all the shitty things you can say to another person (before they want to kill you) and although it's wrong and hurtful, we love each other and maybe that's why we feel like we can say anything. I don't know.
I was food shopping the other day and an elderly woman was staring at the freezer filled with OJ. She turned to me and asked "what is pulp?" I explained pulp and told her my husband loves it, but I don't so I buy "some pulp". That made her laugh! She said "Good for you dear for compromising... I was married for 50 years and I think it's from just turn'in my cheek". I knew what she meant. Picking battles, meeting half way, letting go, and making compromises. She swore to me that after her 4 boys (YES, 4) had grown and moved away, she and her husband started travling and playing Bingo. Her story reminded me that life exisits after children. They don't always stay young and the house won't always look like a bomb went off. Loving relationships repair. Ride the storm I guess, together with the unspoken understanding that one day the chaos will end and something new will begin.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Closure on the "first half".

I'm about 2 months away from my 20th high school reunion. Timberlane Regional High School "Home of the Owls". Returning to the past, familiar faces, funny stories and years of new adventures since then - June of 1991. Long before ITouch, IPhone, Ipod, GPS, Internet, Map Quest and Snooki. Britney Spears was 10, Michael Jackson was alive and black and Nirvana's "Never Mind" album was just released. Back before the devastation of 9-11 changed life as we know it, and raising children changed us. We have traveled the world - college, military, marriages, divorces... we have lost many people we love. We have done some amazing things with our time and everything has lead us here. Saturday nights at Hampton beach have been transformed into treks to Story Land in the "family car" packed high with juice boxes, anti-bacterial wipes and sunblock. Gone are the days of spending our pay check on ourselves. The kids need new shoes, and it's picture time again. Paying our parents for the phone bill seems like pocket change now - compared to mortgage payments, daycare, insurance, heat, food and gas. Life was so easy back then, and cheap. No midnight worries about babies with high fevers or putting together a 300 piece train set 4 hours before Christmas morning. Santa used to come for us back then, but my how life has changed in 20 years. We have changed. We are mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. I was looking back at our year book the other day, seeing the eyes of young adults ready to conquer the world and some of us did exactly what we said we'd do - like Kerri Downs who wanted to "marry Brian and have a large family" (I heard she's up to 5 kids?) And Charity Reardon who wanted to finally get her license! But for people like me - I didn't have a clue what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don't. What I do know is besides the roller derby thing, living in Atlanta, getting married, having kids - I'm pretty much the same person I was. Only stronger, more courageous and older. We were just kids in 1991. I think after everything we have all been through, it's time to let it all go. As excited as I am for this reunion, it's sort of closure for me. Closure on the "first half" of my life.