Bare

I took the pictures down
frame by frame,
leaving behind nothing but a bare wall.
Vulnerable. Naked.

Like peeling a bandage back,
revealing a healed wound,
still raw and sore,
I spied my forgotten injury.

Scarred,
the skin is still healing,
mending,
I then remember.

So many scrapes and bumps
covered and hidden.
Tears cried and hearts broken.
Now dug up and exposed.

Through the pain(deep breath)
I strip away my protection(closed eyes)
and move forward(exhale)

The walls are bare and the future bright.
No more history crucified to the wall.
No more dark and concealed past.

Just faded memories.

Time To Myself

It’s a rare day that I get a chunk of time to myself without feeling guilty or like I’m hiding from my responsibilities. 

This week the little one has theater camp so I get 3 hours of time to myself. I’ve been looking forward to it, thinking of things I want to do while I have this unadulterated time. I could read, podcast, sew, or even write. 

And yet here I sit in a gorgeous park with some coffee and a book. The shade laps at my skin, brushing lightly as the breeze pushes the leaves above me. Shadows dance around my feet as the delicious feeling of warmth and summer kiss my shoulders. 

And yet, I’m restless. I can’t focus on one thing. I read a bit of my book then flip through my phone to read a message or spy a picture on Instagram. I can’t seem to relish this freedom and instead I’m fighting to keep focused. 

  
I want to relax and find peace in not doing too much. The peace in feeling free to worry about me and only me for a few short hours. 

I feel the need to move. To find another place to rest while I wait for my son to finish class. 

When did my life become nothing but moments I spend waiting for someone or something else? Have I lost myself so completely? Is this the fallout of marriage and parenting, the keep and utter loss of a sense of self?

I’ll continue to contemplate this in my free time. Contemplate who I am and what I stand for while I wait for everyone else. 

The March Of Minutes

A string of pearls, listless and bemused,

hangs languidly from the hands of the clock,

striking slowly with little intent.

Pointedly, the hands drag and stalk the Hours,

marking the March of Minutes.

And I wait.

I take a step, with precision and exactness.

Then I wait some more,

the tightrope I walk swinging and swaying.

Gently. Tense.

Slender beneath my feet.

I inch forward, tickling the wire a fraction at a time,

then I stop. I am poised. Listening to the creak of the string, swaying.

And I’m waiting.

Again.

 

 

The Hat

This is a story about a hat. A hat that was just a simple baseball cap but ended up becoming a symbol of hate. My hate.

It all started when our son told us he wanted to play baseball instead of soccer in spring. Being that neither my husband nor I are baseball fans, we asked our son a number of times whether he truly wanted to play. After answering yes each time we asked, we gave in and signed him up. Spring was looking to be rather interesting.

As the holiday season ended and the new year rolled around, emails came slowly started trickling in from coaches and managers and officials of the league informing us of events to warm up the players and try-outs for the teams. Knowing as little as I did about this sport, I went into it thinking this should be fun! And new! And exciting. I was still thinking this until try-outs arrived and I realized the kids would not only try-out but would be marked down and drafted by the coached sitting quietly on the first base line. They were judging each player based on the skills they showed instead of a blind numbering system that I had known in soccer. Oh man… This mama was not ready to watch her son get judged, even though I understand why. Then realization of how different baseball was from soccer hit me and I had a sinking feeling.

But I brushed it off and went along, encouraging my child to believe that this will be fun and that he only had to stick out the season if he didn’t like it because we didn’t believe in quitting. We worked through things we were afraid of or things that we were uncertain of. While I was speaking to him, I know my words were meant more for me. I was telling myself not to quit and pull him from the possibly HUGE mistake we were making and stick him back into soccer, a sport we all know and like.

Then the final nail in the coffin came, sealing my doubt in with my fears. It came in the form of a parent meeting for all rookie players. At this meeting we were given our practice schedule and our practice location. They also explained our game schedule for the season and all the little tidbits of information needed: expectations, volunteers, events, the usual. My husband attended this and sent me back text messages that made the pit at the bottom of my stomach grow larger. We’d have two practice a week, throwing off our whole routine. There would also be a weekday game (WHY?!) and a weekend game.

So we sucked it up and shook off the initial shock of how much was involved and the scramble that would become our lives from now until the end of the season. And I realized that our son was hearing our doubts and voiced his concern that he’d made a mistake in choosing baseball. That shut us up fast. If he wanted to play, we’d make it work. From here on out, I’d have to silence my concerns and just fake it through.

It wasn’t until the first practice that made me realize how big a of a mistake we’d made. After practice, our son was lamenting how he missed soccer and didn’t like baseball. Oh boy… this was not what we needed to hear. Knowing now that he was only lukewarm to the idea of baseball made us feel even more hesitant. Was this a bad idea? Could we still get out of it? Instead we told him to give it a little bit longer to get used to it. That we didn’t quit things we started but if after this season it didn’t work, then it didn’t work. But, together as a family, we’d make it through this first season come hell or high water.

I only half believed what I was telling him.

By the second practice we were receiving both emails and text messages about all the goings on of this overly involved sport that neither of us liked. And each mention of the team made me grumpier and more frustrated. How could we have been so mislead to think that a family of two working parents could make this work? Who can make 4:30 pm practices twice a week when both parents have jobs?! This was becoming a perfect pitch for multiple wives. More hands, more help. But I digress.

At the second practice, it was asked that all players brought their hats and $25 for some embroidery to be done on them. Well, we never made it due to issues with homework not being finished so his hat was still with us. On Sunday we were reminded about uniform pickup and to bring the hat, too. That way the team moms could take it all in to get stitched and ready for our first games. Come Sunday, we were ready, cap and money in hand. We got our uniforms all picked out and sized up and then we left… with the damn hat. Somehow I had missed the memo that we were to leave the hat. I didn’t know who to give it to or what we were to do it with and somehow my husband didn’t know that I didn’t know so he didn’t do anything either.

So we left. With the hat.

Suddenly I get a message. The team mom realized they didn’t have our hat and wanted us to come back to drop it off. We were already out of the area and on our way to our delayed beach day with my sister, a day that was supposed to be a brunch date but got moved to late lunch when we found out our uniform pickup time conflicted with our plans. So no, we weren’t going to turn around and come back. Instead we made plans to drop it off the next day.

It was that moment that I started to hate that hat. The hat was nothing more than a piece of clothing but it became a symbol of something more. Of our frustration, of our lives slowly being whittled away by a sport that none of us, even our son, was really all that interested in. A sport that he wanted to just try for a season that was now consuming us. My running schedule was being disrupted and my husbands work schedule and gym sessions were being moved around. Everything was changing. Our happy little life was slowly being rearranged for baseball, a sport none of us loved.

As we all woke this morning, the moods were light and fun as we gave each other hugs and kisses goodbye. Everyone seemed to be in good moods. That was until I realized I hadn’t sent the address of our team mom to my husband for the hat drop off. It had slipped my mind. As I pulled up to drop off our son at his grandmother’s house, I sent a quick message containing the contact information to him when I saw out of the corner of my eye the lurking black bill of our son’s baseball hat.

The damn thing was with me. Sigh….

Dropping him off with a quick word and a kiss from my mother, I jumped back in the car fuming. I had to retrace my route and go back home to give my husband the hat so that he could drop it off for us. And this made me 30 minutes late to work. I was not a happy mama.

In a joking manner, I took a picture of me giving the hat the Bird and sent it to my husband for a good laugh. And we did chuckle at it. It was funny and stupid to flip off a hat because you are angry but it also had a deeper meaning to us. This hat, this season, this sport, was slowly becoming everything that was making us mad. It symbolized all of our frustrations and anxieties over how we would pull this off. It was the visible reminder of our big mistake.
photo (2)
The hat is now in the possession of the embroidery shop that is stitching our son’s name to the back of it along with his name on his jersey. And to add insult to our already tender wounds that this damn hat inflicted over the past two days, we received the schedule for our games. From Monday-Thursday and then Saturday, our lives are now all baseball, the sport we are slowly hating more and more each day. The messages between my husband and I are littered with colorful words and a deep sense of frustration and anger. Anger at the loss of control over our schedules, the inability to foresee how this sport was going to affect us and change everything. And, personally, I think this has opened our eyes to how much we love our lives and how much we love the schedule we had built carefully and meticulously.

For now we’ll have to decide if this is something we can make happen without putting too much strain on our family. We’re also going to have to pool our resources in the form of babysitters, grandmothers, and family members that can be there if we can’t. And if we can’t make it happen, then we’ll at least have the ability to say we tried but it just wasn’t for us.

The Permanent Roommate

Lucy knew what she wanted. She wanted the laundry to fold itself. She wanted a house with a yard and a small space for a tiny garden of herbs and vegetables that she used all the time so that she could have them fresh and waiting for her to cook with. Lucy wanted a dog, nothing too big or too small or fancy. Nothing with a long name that sounded more like a gourmet entrée in a French café than a dog breed. She wanted hardwood floors and long drapes to frame some windows that looked out onto that large yard in back. A home she could call hers.

Lucy also wanted to have another child. Her first two were growing fast, faster than she could have ever imagined. They were growing out of their shoes and pants quicker than she could keep them fed. She was proud of her children, of all their little accomplishments. But she yearned for another go at pregnancy and the infancy of new life. She ached to be needed by a small baby with pudgy hands and rolls of chub along their legs.

As Lucy put away the freshly folded laundry, still warm from the drier and smelling of cotton and sweet flowers, she reflected on all the things she wished for and sighed. All these things, these dreams and wishes, were once not only hers, but they were also Ray’s dreams, too. Dreams they shared oh those many years ago before marriage and children. The days long ago when they were more than friends. When they were lovers.

But life had changed in the last couple of months. Ray’s job offered him a new position, one that was more demanding of his time and efforts but afforded them more luxuries like a healthier savings account and for Lucy to be able to quit her job and stay home. While life was easing into this new phase, their romantic inclinations were slowly fading away. Lucy couldn’t tell if it was the stress of the job or just the waning interest in a long term partner that had struck their intimate life down, but, either way, Lucy felt the pangs of desire but didn’t know how to approach her husband.

Bending to pick up a pile of books left in the hallway by the kids, Lucy thought back, trying to remember when it all started. As she racked her mind to pinpoint the moment their relationship shifted into this complacent, friendly area, she spotted a corner where a cobweb had been missed. Tsking her own work, Lucy put down the woven laundry basket resting on her hip with the pile of children’s books placed on top of the dirty clothes inside and reached into her back pocket for the dusting rag she had tucked away. Waving the rag around in a half-heart manner, she swiped at the accumulating webs and scattered dust from the corner. Stepping back, she felt pleased and considered that area now done when her eyes glanced at a framed picture of the two of them, laughing in a swinging hammock together. Her heart sank as she saw the glimmer of adoration in his eyes that she longed to see again.

She married Ray for his laugh and the way he could turn a simple meal into a two hour conversation about anything and everything. He always spoke with passion and interest. And it wasn’t very long ago that she was the subject of that passion. He always took the time to tell her how he felt about her, to hold her hand even when simply grocery shopping, and he made sure they had a date every so often to spend time just being together, alone. Those days were gone. Her role as wife was now more of a glorified best friend. As a permanent roommate.

Lifting the basket and slowly placing it against her hip, Lucy realized she had unwillingly slipped into this role as she supported Ray in his new job by being there and not asking too much. In doing so, she had become no more than a housemate; always there, always pitching in and sharing the space around them but nothing more. They talked and laughed occasionally over a dinner of macaroni and cheese. He’d hug her after a long day and she’d scratch his shoulders if he asked while they caught up on the news after the kids were asleep. There was always love and devotion, an unwavering vow of fidelity tacked on the walls between baby pictures of the kids and their honeymoon in Tahiti. But that was it.

Lugging the heavy basket into the kids’ room and depositing the missing books into their book-bin, Lucy stifled a sob. They didn’t fight or argue. They still got along wonderfully. Nothing was out of place and she was even granted the gift of staying home to tend the house and the kids when needed. But that was the growing problem, no one needed her. Not really. Ray could take care of himself as he always had been able to and the kids were growing more independent with every blink of an eye. And while Lucy would take being needed by either her husband or her children, just being wanted would have been enough. It would have filled the hole that had been growing steadily. The feeling of being wanted by those she loved would have mended the tear across her heart.

She no longer cared to be a wife or a mother. Or a roommate or a best friend. As she cried tears of grief and loneliness on her way down to the garage where the bulking silver washing machine awaited her with freshly washed clothing, Lucy realized she would like nothing more than just to be wanted.

The Day The Lights Went Out

I crossed the finish line so many times, and every time
he was there.
To urge me faster, to cheer me on.

He was there.

Maybe I asked to much. Maybe I did too little
but another finish line came into view
and he wasn’t there anymore.

He wasn’t there.

The crowds cheered and people smiled,
but my eyes searched for the one face I wanted to see.
The one face that meant the most to me
and he wasn’t there.

From here on out, I’m on my own.
I asked too much and listened too little.
I sealed my own fate
and now I walk alone.

On my own.

 

Date Night

In the passing lights of the highway, the glint from his wedding ring catches my attention as we drive to the coast for a quiet dinner together. A dinner with no children, no diaper bags, no whining. Just us.

I tuck my hand into his as he speaks of his clients that day. Of the menial details of his Monday. The conversation is light and airy, flowing between us as we share the little things we forget during the weekly hustle at home due to the homework assignments that need to be checked and the bathtime antics that need to be mediated.

I lean back against the headrest and let his voice carry me down the motorway towards the grey sky of November hanging above us. He hasn’t told me where we are going but I know. It’s our place. A little harbor restaurant tucked away between the boats and jetties where we can dine on seafood and wine with real linens and a small candle lit between us. Tonight there is no worry of little curious fingers finding their way into the glass sconces or markers making a permanent drawing of Big Bird on the snow white table cloth.

Tonight there will be no kid’s menu and no macaroni and cheese to cool down with our gentle whispers. No hamburgers to order with only meat and cheese between two buns, preferably without seeds. No sippie cups or lidded cups of any kind to avoid spills. No fighting over the crayons brought to the table to placate the children as they wait for their food.

Instead I’m in my purple sweater dress. The one that hangs perfectly off my curves that are usually hidden beneath my comfortable, worn jeans and careless tee-shirts. I managed to dig up a pair of black nylons and heels to match so that I’m warm yet dressed up. And though we rushed from work to the bathrooms to ready ourselves to sit in traffic on our way to the shore after the exchange of offspring from parents to grandparents, I managed to put on makeup and let down my hair.

His smooth voice brings me back and I realize I miss hearing him speak without whispering after bedtime or raising his tone to be heard over the din. I laugh at his jokes and he asks me about work. He shares his opinion about a song on the radio and I joke about the video I saw at lunch. Then, without warning, a silent blanket falls around us as we coast along the ebbing sea of glowing taillights. Small rain drops pitter against the windshield as the tires beneath lull us into a comfortable silence.

And there between us, our hands clasped casually over the center console full of nurse rhymes on CD and pacifiers, we fall in love all over again. In that brief moment of silence with only our palms resting together do we remember why we are here. Without a word, only a sigh from both of us, we find our romance tucked within the crumb covered seats, a lone shoe, and the toys that have been “lost”.