Over Board

 

Since I like to write about life in “metaphors” and “allegory” I would like to directly confront any haters by describing my life as a big Carnival cruise ship.

When you spend 33 years steering your ship with the same beliefs, illusions, escape mechanisms, denial and self defeating behaviors, you know how to steer, because its the way you were taught. It’s the way you always have done, the way your parents and even their parents taught, a map passed down with just one compass, a set group of working members that trust you to steer the way they taught.

Rejecting their way of navigation is to reject them, to question that any idea outside the script they have written for you is rebellious and ungrateful. By asking to maneuver this ship, your own, the way you hope, the way you dream, causes narcissistic panic and rage, for such a request slaps ingratitude, defiance, and no amount of love by either party changes this fact at all.

It is their fear of all fears, to lose control.

But you cannot dance for them, steer for them, look at a map that has nothing to do with you and pretend you are doing a job GOd made you for, not even for the love you feel for them.

It is too great a cost.

Trying only comes with their reminders of your past navigations, life boats of passengers that would leave, that little failed  marriage, financial irresponsibility, their hearts heavy with concern, so naive and desperate for love and approval, you believe them.

The drama and unhealthy anxiety and loss of weight and who had to bear such a thing watching you destroy yourself?

Your heart sickened and you would agree especially when the trump card fell, like how your children were at stake, and as my mother said when I excitedly announced my acceptance to Photography school, “But honey, your children need you. A good mother knows  you can’t ever get back your children’s childhood.”

But I had waited till Lola was in Kindergarten, my heart felt it true that I had real gifts, people had told me about my writing and photography, something my mother claimed she wouldn’t read.

It was just too unbearable for her.

Not to mention being the family laughing joke, the dating disasters, financial dependence, and so you went along, so you laughed with them.

So crazy, how could YOU be qualified to run your own ship?”

They meant to shut up, find a good man, stop causing drama, and do not ask questions that make them feel, look, or examine pain, but one last thing. DO not take front seat or that would mean that they may be put out of a job, a job they invested 33 years in keeping. One thing I have learned is that nothing is more important than their own illusion of control, that you somehow are responsible for the emotions, existence, needs, and life path of another simply by being born.

In your birth, you are their ownership.

But, what if they were right?

They always were.

Could you possibly be that arrogant, even crazy, to believe that something inside you knows more?

Read their map, take passenger seat with their compass, and they promise, you will always be safe, loved, and in God’s loving hands.

In many small moments of defiant self assurance and your own part brave, part powerful, part narcissistic inner guidance, you throw the compass over the side, rip their perfect map and do horrible things like go to school, take on boyfriends not of their knowledge or choosing, at 33 mind you. You refuse calls, break cars, and cry over missing your babies.

They tell you that this is abuse, this defiance of role, the writing, and you failed them by not taking the destination they paid and invested financially and emotionally for you.

In your young naive attempt for all that you have fought for, you throw up the middle finger, rip their map, not just in half with a clean line you can tape back later for emergency, but in many teeny pieces throwing them up in the air.

You clearly have no idea what you have done.

They watch in horror, announce insanity, and so you hear the many heartbreaking lies from the ones who KNEW you, who were watching, who cried and held you, so you dive deep in denial as your reputation is smeared, like a knife you know is cutting and bleeding in your back, but you refuse to pull out.

Sometimes pretending the pain isn’t really there is less painful than the wound itself.

And sometimes, this exact point causes you to never fully examine your wounds, your life, your loved ones, I believe, is a promise that you will in fact, become them.

The repair is not possible you realize as your heart slices to pieces, your children are no longer called or seen, even the ex that supported them is deleted next to you off of facebook, birthdays and holidays are ignored, with the exception of a lovely card, only for the grandchildren, who have been left to you for the explanation of why an entire extended family, aunts uncles and cousins, are gone. I couldn’t bare it. My babies most claimed to being loved were now pawn to a woman who claims I will not let her see them.

And so, you have what you have asked for, a ship, gulp, and no one to control the many anchors and nets, food preparations, or storm safety regulations.

You have a few passengers to take leadership of, all watching with careful scrutiny as to how this captain will maneuver without any map, an illogical quest for certain, and you can feel some of them smug at their obvious belief you will hit the rock of Gibraltar, or drown the entire boat from your selfish, ignorant, irresponsible and reckless decisions.

They are waiting to be right.

The others left are a little scared, with life jackets all on, you notice, a fact that makes you wince, seeing as there is only bright sky and little waves, but they have swimmies, goggles, inner tubes and helicopters on call.

So you will prove them all wrong. You will prove you are the Captain, the first to use an inner guidance and new technology from within. You are living your destiny, you say in the mirror at night, certain the gods will protect you and the ripple effect of your intentions will lead you and your girls to freedom.

You believe with all your might you are called to do so.

And in front of them all, in front of yourself, you run your ship directly into a glacier.

And another one.

You see with terror that the water has began to fill the first cabin of passengers and it is your fault, these passengers you have grown to love as your own family are all affected, their money and resources drained, their thoughts of your motives and choices are murmured below, but you can hear them all.

They are losing trust, amongst the chatter, you feel their worry and anxiety over you, causing great pain and a responsibility greater than you ever knew before.

That is the worst part of being a captain.
Letting down the ones you want nothing more than to love and protect that have no choice but to drown or get hit amongst the rocks with you.

I was in the McDonald’s drive thru, with Lola my cheerleader, Kat my critic, and I saw her eye me in my rear view.

She must have noticed I buy nothing for myself, even food, something she comments on, aware at too young of an age that mommy has had an excruciating break up, must move out without any idea where to live, needs extra work and fast, and is heartbroken mostly over missing them and wondering if in fact, everyone was right, once again.

“Mom,” she said, with authority in her voice, even at 10.

I was scared to look up.

“One day mom, you will have a big house and a man that is your real soul mate, you’ll see. You will go on trips and buy things and mom, you can do it. One day mom.”

“Yeah!” Lola cheered from the back, shouting, “YOU WONT ALWAYS HAVE NO MONEYS!”

She kept eating her fries while I said nothing, afraid to show the tears sliding, the belief they have in me had nothing to do with my past behavior, all to do with what they knew I was capable of.

“And a child shall lead them.”

I had already took on a first captain, one with a snarky spitfire of personality and courage, to test the waves, an open book of brilliance and psychological passion which she has mysteriously gained at such a young age.

Ya’ll know her as Thelma.

I hired her to research and build a new map you see, my courage and passion to my cause quickly passing, so I asked her to find a much better working compass, a growing regret was quickly coming with the realization I threw away with the first one with little indifference at the time.

She has bad news.
She cannot give me a new compass.
She WILL not give you a new compass.
She says it like the truth blazer she is, something I often brag will make her the greatest forensic psychologist of all time, but with me, you see, I demand she change the very core of what makes her beautiful and unique.

I explain carefully that I just want her to say it is okay.

She explains details over my ship with little patience and logical direct blows. She tells me I am the leader of this ship, not her, and not the ones before, and I have a choice. I will lead the ship I call my life, for good or bad, or not.

My knees go weak, not knowing I had unconsciously looked for the exact replacement of what I knew for all my life. I just saw pain, blinding white light, and an evil girl who cut up souls and served them on strawberries.

It took a lot of time to see the real Thelma, not the woman I only projected upon as “mother.”

On many occasions I imagine I might have challenged her to first deck where I would wrestle her lady like uppity ass to the ground, but in fact, something worse happened.

I realized she was right.

What the fuck was I thinking?

I did what all confident self seeking freedom fighters do and cried, begged, demanded she do it, fell faint on the floor from the magnitude of it.

She just rolled her eyes.

Until the breaking.

Something had to be changing for she was evolving into the nurturing and kind friend, the co caption I was used to was not empathetic, even harsh.

It was the first time I saw her as she was, and had always been, but from my own dysfunction and terror of being abandoned had blinded me to ever seeing the real her.

I saw after a year that she had no life jacket on or life boat pulled to the side, nor had she ever.

How could I have missed this?

So this was the breaking, the pounding of my knees to the ground, the layers of unworthy unloved messages and beliefs began to take over, and I had nothing left to fear.

In that moment, I had and was nothing,

The interesting thing about pain is that some pain keeps you stumped for years, and I had the tears of a clown with the make up dripping off, only my true sad self to let through and all of it, all of it, had been not my fault, but my responsibility.

I wasn’t stumped at all. I was aware I had done nothing I had set out to accomplish, that intentions mattered nothing, that I was in fact, the scum on the bottom of the scummiest bottom.

So the reality I had been missing was that she had not changed into anything, for I saw her, my biggest defender, fighter, support and friend. It was I who was the one changing, the parts of me who kept her and the world away were the ego and I had none left, not anymore.

Then I heard some music, coming from bottom deck, Justin Timberlake I believe, blasting on the radio, my girls coming up to shake what their mama gave them, the ship half burned, ship wrecked, void of food.

True deliverance comes not when we are accepting mighty awards in front of all the people who didn’t believe in you, our shadows and ego convinced OUR truth will be rewarded, maybe even a podium or Ted Talk might come our way.

It just is never going to be that way for me.

It is in the destruction, when the tides have turned and all is lost at sea. It is in the shipwreck and pirates who betray again and again, so you find treasure in your laughter, in your glories, in your unforgivable mistakes, and if you have a lucky break, all you can see and feel is just peace.

These are the finest of any treasure a captain can find, when her ship becomes eerily still while the  dolphins came to say hello, jumping in perfect circles. One by one they come, dressed in costume, Kat and then Lola, Thelma and Dad, all the ones who love from a broken heart come to dance.

“You are the captain of your ship, the captain of your soul” is a quote I scribbled down way before I took on this journey, and I will not begin being grateful when I find the destination, the flag, the written map the gods reveal before me.

Sink or swim, with maybe one float left to hold on as I watch my boat burst into flames, it doesn’t matter.
I will dance just the same.

For everyone on board, from past to present to unknown to future known, this is the song I am dancing to, hoping you all are blessed, touched, and loved. It is you who have been God’s touch on my shoulder.

Enjoy!

Michael Franti & Spearhead LIVE

 

The Snake Eye Club

20120315-123243.jpg I imagine some of you parents nodding and chuckling after reading this; the newest of you are holding your baby who looks adorable in the new outfit you matched with adorable bow, tights, shoes, and pigtails. Did I mention adorable?

A good day she spits all over herself.
A bad day she spits all over you.

I was forewarned, by many of you, the majority with older kids, imagine that, with your annoying “Just Wait” comments while I would brag tirelessly over the rolling, speaking, giggling, cute little jumbled up words and even sign language shared just between me & my baby.

“You see how she laughs when I blow air on her tummy!”

Most of you dove right in with similar tales of sweet motherhood while every now in then an elevator would ensure a self righteous “Ha! Just wait! You”ll want to give them back! It’s like aliens kidnap them and some come don’t come back until their twenties!”
Had they met my Kat?
I passed it off as never being nurtured themselves or in need of sleep.
I’d nod in sweet empathetic knowing. (I know moms from elevators, I’m sorry, okay?”)
In return, they’d give me the stink eye.
And here I am.
My baby cherry has been popped people and I’m looking into the black abyss of my unknown parenting future.

It was a slow gradual shift I’d say, looking back at the deer I just caught in my headlight and have yet not removed. I’m one of those slow band aid removers when I have a cut and hate waxing for that split second shock, and I’d also say I like thinking on the positive sides of things.
“So stink eye on all you stink eye monsters!”
Motherhood in its milky burp or projectile vomit, is beautiful, in spit and shit. I adore my babies.
That is, until I joined a club I can’t find my way out of.

There were a few changes here and there, a new assertive way of dressing, meaning if you like and bought it, she hates it. Then there was her pulling me into the bathroom, so many times she had before, in the tireless potty days. This was different.
She locked the door and whispered, “Watch for Dad.”
I responded, “Why are we whispering?”
She pulled her shirt over her head and said, “Loook! I have boobies that are enlarging, like the book says.” Then pulling her shirt down, excited like we were going on the slide in McDonalds in my confused mind, she announced it was time for a kid bra.

WTF. When did it change to Kid Bra? I feel violated for not knowing sooner.

She locked herself away in her room reading “American Girl’s Guide to Me” or otherwise named “Daddy Leaves His Body Disorder” to come out yelling just the parts you want to whisper over, like they aren’t there.
“Mommy, do you wear tampons or pads during (she picks up book and mispronounces “Menuustrratyin?”
“Tampons, I mean nothing. I mean it’s not your business Kat!”
She asks me if she will bleed like a scene in a movie during a real E.R. or if it will be slow like a faucet turned mostly off. Then as I choke she reminds me I was ten when I had a period and in ten days, she will be too!”

The one thing I didn’t count on was having a child who prepares to prepare.
How did this happen to me?

ME, MISS FREE SPIRIT, has a child exactly like an officer of the LAPD, just without uniform.
She drills anyone and every one who smoke.
She tells when I text and drive, don’t drink water, have sticky floors and don’t get her started on the hours my bf plays video games.
Beware of any ten second lost car in the parking lot.
She has a journal she swings open with pencil in hand, two inches from your face, asking questions to quizzes which she checks extremely seriously, adding up her totals requires full undivided attention.
She braces me for bad news. “You mom, scored 6. I’m sorry but you are not “Cool as a Cucumber.”
She sighs dramatically.

We both scored “The Worry Wart!” then she lays her head down as if this is devastation.
Her whole life, all she ever wanted is to be “Cool as a Cucumber!”

Who knew. I would’ve changed the theme of her birthday cake long ago.
When I tell her some positives to this outcome SHE could change, she rolls her eyes, as if I’ve ever lived through anything other than PMS, which I hear my voice raising that she doesn’t even pronounce right!”
She shrugs, barely whispering in this new alien voice of sarcasm.
Oh hell no, back up. Is my child making fun OF me? Me? I find myself ready with infantile sarcasm, a showdown right there in the Claire’s parking lot, until she points out I lost the car, AGAIN.

“I didnt LOSE my car Kat for Gods sakes” I yell as we walk in circles.
I find it, three rows over as I hear this mutter, “Maybe you should get an app for that.”

Three weeks after supplying her dream Christmas list, she announces,
“I don’t play with dolls,” she says, “I gave them to Lola” which explains why of yesterday Lola had the best day of her life. Every day is the best day of her life and as her teacher said, “And every table I move her for talking she meets a new best friend.”

Then, came the makeup. She pointed out I wear none quite candidly as I picked my amateur brain and went straight to any parents guide.
Duh. You Tube. Judge away people. I found a celebrity showing blush, powder, light mascara, and lip gloss in an age appropriate way.

That explains also where my lipstick went. Lola had red markings even on her forehead and that next school meeting, her teacher gave me to take home “How to apply Lipstick” by Lola. She’s still in the adorable phase can you tell?

Divorcee and I had been bickering back and forth over when to reveal Santa since birth. I told him “She will hold it over us forever!” I begged but he didn’t have the heart.
Until I had the heart for him. Her tooth had fallen out and she had told me of plans of putting the tooth in a different location than under her pillow.
I thought of her father being woken by the bride of Chucky so I improvised.

Which led to no Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy all in one day. Divorcee took it the worst. Pretty rough day for the most imaginative kid I know, oh, and Kat too.
Afterwards, she laid in her bed deep in thought, completely angry and saddened that life was now meaningless, all her life, nothing was real, that it had been daddy who ate the cookies!
She glared at him in betrayal.
She also accused him of throwing away all her teeth.
Exhausted, I laid down next to her, just as sad.

“Kat,” which she reminded me now she likes Makaila or McKaykay, NOT Kat.

“Kat,” I continued. I’m going to talk to you like an adult cause that’s what you want, isn’t it?

She was nodding profusely, moving in, deep unwavering eyes locked right into my own from anticipation.

“Being adult means things you thought were real turn out fake, things you wish and dream on sometimes die or divorce, princesses lose lots of guys, not just one. And they don’t wear Justice.”
She frowned. “Kisses and PMS and all these things you want so badly (she pushes her flat chest up as I say this) may make Santa not being real look like a pretty good day. One day you might wish this day back as much as you wish 18 would hurry.”
I stop, the gushing positive hopeful mom blocking and talking away anything that might hurt change or be awkward or sad away, finally stopped. I wonder if I just killed her.

“Mom, its about now doing it all for Lola, right? Believing makes Lola happy, but not me.” She sighs and hugs me like she were my baby, squeezing and not letting go.
And again, I was wrong about that hug.
She finished it and did a cartwheel and said, stoic and proud,
“Mom, it’s official. I’m now a preteen.”
I laughed out loud and agreed, For that one brief moment, I didn’t even give her the stink eye.

I saw my baby as Makaila Grey, a teeny body with outrageous Spirit, made through me, not of me.
I will spend the rest of my life, camera in hand, trying to capture it.
But it can’t. That’s what the ladies were trying to say. It passes and no one is prepared to catch it, in perfect motion, just before it vanishes into a dream, a baby book, a billion photos.
The snake eye group is right. You can’t bring innocence back.

And that is the best news I ever heard, in the way the Swine Flu probably feels.
“Just Wait,” is all I can think, now Kat is a “preteen” and I’m in the grouchy snake eye group.
She wasn’t mine anymore.
She never was.
I sob into my boyfriend who is dumb and laughs at the humor in this.
I give the stink eye like a true pro and stomp to the next room, where only Kat would understand.

The Owl

For as long as I can remember, my mother loves Owls. She is a bookworm, introspective and wise, and my favorite picture of her in my head is in her giant bed, four tall wooden posts rise to the ceiling like trees, with her buried in books, curlers in hair.

Along with the Hummingbird, she would point them out to me from her hammock at night or in a gift shop, a member of the Owl posse, which all Owl discoveries I frankly smiled with a nod or “Wow!” look, not wanting to reveal my Owl boredom, which is just the proper thing to do when one’s mom hunts a daughter down, in Michaels, dangling a Owl ornament from two aisles over, on sale.

Not to mention, with double thumbs up and a text to check out the coupons for extra savings on uh, Owl ornaments, I fake excitement sometimes because I appreciate it being faked for me.

It’s why we all smile at baby Picts being shoved from wallets into our faces, the person waiting for your delightful praise over their he/she child whose head is so big and odd shaped, you look in panic for the first adorable truth you can gather.

“I love Elmo!” is not the best distraction, especially if the one paying the check is an offended mom who was expecting something spectacular about her bald headed beady eyed fetus,

I will admit mom is to Owls as I am with fairies. Not the cutesy butterfly kind but the bad ass ones with attitude and tube socks, drawn on cards and obviously not happy about it.

After getting knicked in the heels in Walmart by old people pushing carts and fat people sitting and driving them, the right fairy reminds me im not alone in this insanity. I see that angry fairy and feel connected, validated, a non comformist if you will. She tells me every year I’m an idiot to have not shopped online. She never bullshits and I respect that.

Mother once had a dream i argued with her in Kroger for purchasing an owl in which she proceeded to cut off it’s head for a centerpiece during the Holidays. I stand behind my dream argument she relayed for it made perfect sense to me, the awake me. I am not Joseph but it seemed she were the owl, always cutting her own head off in sacrifice for family, anything to make four bratty kids happy, her own self the living sacrifice.

If Maury were to film her at Christmas, I doubt he could ever convince her what we have tried.

She brought the joy not her Holiday gifts, traditions, and unreachable expectations.

She was Christmas, just her, and I doubt she’ll ever see it the way I did, awake, dead, or decapitated.

It’s too bad Owls and Fairies can’t see more eye to eye on these things.

I bought her a huge Owl during summer, not on sale.
an Antique shop and bought it for that next Christmas, contemplating the perfect hiding space, delighted I were going to make this the gift under the tree the gift she wouldn’t stop talking about for 10 Christmas years to come, I had it double wrapped and hid it in my trunk. It was the Owl no brother could top. I had won best gift.

Unfortunately, I called her on the way home and told her all about it.
I can’t help it. I’m a sucker for happy gift reactions.

It was more than a hit. She squealed, hugged and did a circle dance move, some sort of Owl ritual perhaps. I looked away. Not even The Who would appreciate those moves.
Get it. The Who – Hoo Hooo.

She paced the house with this enormous fake creature with a “What the hell am I going to do with this?” look on her face, not that she uses the word hell, but I secretly hopes she does sometimes say something crazy, despite herself. I always found it nonsense growing up she didn’t like “sucks,” as if Jesus died on the cross for those who say “sucks,” “blows” and “sharted,” which is a fart and shit combined, which she didn’t even realize.

I digress.

She decided on the outdoors, a tree stump once hit by lighting, where she placed the freakishly large Owl and announced to me and her doggies, “Perfect. It is the symbol of my protection.”

On this one particular nasty day where she cried a lot, falling into a painful day of grieving life and loss, she looked out the window the next day and sighed.

“No wonder. The Owl fell and so did I.”

She marched her determined little self into the wet woods to put that Owl back on post.
It was between them two, but I smiled at their resolve.

When I started school, I had to do table top special assignments to shoot interesting objects with our new knowledge of studio lighting, so I took her Owl with permission to photograph.

And so, we haven’t spoken since and her Owl was away when her things were taken out and moved, the Owl never mentioned or requested. I had forgotten too, or blocked it out, the two seem eerily the same these days.

Until I found it in my boyfriend’s closet.

I screamed bloody murder, covering my mouth and pointing, just pointing to the linen closet.

“What is THAT? some kind of sick joke?”
My face was white and ghastly but it didn’t make him smarter.

“Uuh, I hid it in there cause I don’t fold towels.”

I demanded it be gone the next day, the thought of it again made me hurt, in places I don’t know how to stop, the hurt that stupid Owl brought from his closet could never be fixed, not even by Christmas, or fairies or all the curse words I could say out loud or math camps I could remove.

That Owl must be dealt with.

He agreed.

Or so I thought, running into the damn thing AGAIN but this time in the basement but with cobwebs in the dark, the village idiot must not watch too many gangster movies.

Who doesn’t know what “Get rid of it means?”

And how I paced, it seemed too creepy to chop it up, too mean to toss, too hurtful to display, so I put a note and left it in the street, facing my neighbor so he hopefully would be pegged as the nut.

Judge me but I did want it to have a nice home.

I have learned a lot about myself, about grief, over the torture of this Owl.
What to do with it, what it all meant, where it all belonged, how to make it not hurt me, the projections, delusions, compromises. The final goodbye.

I feel the eyes, beady scary eyes following me, ready to peck out my heart with that beak and its predator claws.

It wasn’t until Kat, my preteen with a perma scowl surprised me saying in sarcasm, “Whats up with nana? Is she dead or something, what’s the deal?”
She rolled her eyes and bit into pancakes bitterly.

I didn’t answer. I did the rational move instead of course, grabbed scissors out of the drawer and ran outside.

Yes, I understand this is dangerous, but I never claimed to be trained or certified in matters of devastation, especially when confronted with my biggest judge, a very scary creature to have not developed breasts yet.

It was time to meet my Nemasis, the last owl remaining.

I suppose it is cute, hanging with intention from a tree outside, made of pottery and painted in the shape of an Owl. I cut the rope, on my tippy toes, watching it dissemble before hitting the ground, the head broke in half, rolling under my car and stopping under my wheel, broken glass side up.

“Damnit,” I cursed, belly on ground, shoving inch by inch to it as I broke, straight to the ugly cry.

Grabbing a stick and hitting it made it roll to the other tire, my tears now making strange contortions in my body. My mother could see my girls whenever she liked, provided I was there, and so how was I to tell my preteen who didn’t like much about me as it were that there was something so bad, so flawed that my own mother couldn’t even bear it, not even to see her girls, who I know she loves.

She’d hate me and I didn’t blame her, or the damn Owl for that matter, so with a concrete face and smeared mascara, I was a sight rolling from under my car, the cursing and crying to a God I liked as much as Darth Vadar didn’t make for a proud moment.

How I wish this ended in a rehab story, but instead I got the head, chucked it and all I heard was “pink, pink, pink,” and the damn thing landed in direct position of passing vehicles, certain to cause a flat if hit, so I screamed profanities and told it to go back to the G-damn Goodwill and other seriously deranged statements a lunatic might say to a piece of Owl pottery.

I kicked it until satisfied, slipping a little, my hurt pounding like bread dough in a Southern biscuit special, I felt I got it out, whatever it was, until I turned.

My baby, my nine year old with her big serious brown grey eyes were open as wide as they could go.

I had lost all account as how long ago I had gone crazy or filthy mouthed, beating the shit out of an Owl qualifies for therapy, if it were not too late. Every horrific site of her in paIn, pulling out hair, every Dr. Phil show where parents remove all furniture for their own safety flashed in segments. I had nothing.

She was traumatized for life.

Here it came. I closed my eyes and from the child who rolled her eyes like she were presenter for the “eye roller” child of the year award, who did not want me to call her Kat, a new horror I am guilty of constantly, looked at me, paused, and so i sat in a dramatic suffocating moment of sick remorse.

She grabbed my hands, in our yard, the actual Public, tears filling and not because i said no computer, but real tears. She threw her teeny body in a hug I haven’t seen since she found friends and sleepovers.

I think I was in shock.

“I want to be the mom that you are,” she said forcing my chin down to look through me.

I was either shocked or disassociating, I’m unsure.

“because, she finished, all you ever want is for your kids to be free.”

She pointed in serious gesture to me. “You mom, you know what it means to let me be free.”
She pointed to the ground now, arching her back straight, to finish her thought.
“and that’s what I’ll be too…”

She patted me now, easing out of the embrace, and if I could tell you what the hell that has to do with me pulverizing a poor pottery Owl while crying like a lunatic, I may be qualified for this mothering job, which obviously I am not.

Maybe she thought I went nutso over her comment over the pancakes and has been trained to diffuse highly emotional moms.

Maybe she is really the Owl, wise and old her soul came here, light years ahead of my evolution, sometimes I feel I evolve slower than a chicken in a crock pot not turned on, and even if she stopped our special handshake and gave away all her dolls and criticizes my cooking, she really sees me.
To be seen is all I ever hoped for and Owls even at night, have the perfect radar vision.

Maybe she really just wants that Xbox 360 for Christmas.
Maybe she is part fairy, part owl, a mix of my mother and I combined, and she understands that my broken Owl holds a truth I just can’t see yet.

Or maybe she saw no broken owl, just her mothers broken heart, a thought I hate.

Maybe in unknowingly letting her see me flawed and wrong and insane, she saw my mess and loved me the more for it.

Owls can see perfectly at night, the only creature who flies with precision and beauty and purpose in the midst of complete and utter darkness.

And perhaps, so can my Kat.

Spring Break Sex Discussions

It is two days in to Spring break, meaning I have already hid in my car once, for ten minutes. Please judge me. I have given up all illusion that I am gifted at mothering, that illusion fell before Kat got here, when my mucus plug fell out and Divorcee had a panic attack because the dog went to lick it.
I handle these moments with logic intelligence. I suggested perhaps the dog liked yogurt.

Disgusting.

Just like this past week, 48 hours with Kat and no break means that of course 400 questions turns to 4 million and somehow animal products with hormones led to the inevitable period talk, a break I was hoping for since the sex book came around Christmas.

I wonder who was more confused or disgusted, her or me? It’s a toss up.
She was horrified I got naked in a bath tub two whole times.
It was just easier people.
Nana said it was the best book to read but my dear God were the lady and man in the tub ugly, and cartoon people too.
She wants boobs, claims her arm pits are aching, and I hide tampons even though I saw her peeking at the back, the instructions to hard to pronounce, so thank God that day she couldn’t sound out “MENSTRUAL” the day I had to get out the door for work.
Lola has been giving Kat hysterics pretending her and Luke are a couple, her red hair in a lop sided Princess Lea bun, telling her pretend boyfriend that Darth Vadar is dead, Kat falling over in laughter.

I told Divorcee they play too much Star Wars on Wi.

When I explained women bleed, that yes, I had been ten, but hopefully she will be much older, she turned white, leaned on the fridge and gasped, “OH, fridge please help me!” She said, exasperated, “Are you telling me that girls pee blood?”
Kind of.
When she regained composure, she said, “Mom, what happens to boys?”
Oh, Good Lord.
Well, they have a penis, which gets hard and causes an erection. I don’t know a lot but THAT statement is definitely true.
Her hands went straight to the hips.
“So, are you telling me that girls have a choice to either have a baby for nine months or they bleed into their panties and boys have THAT?”
She was furious.
Then defeated, moaning dramatic wishes she were a boy, she finally put her head down in exhaustion.
Lola, princess red head Lea, popped up from behind her (probably listening to the entire conversation) yelled out her sister’s name, just to startle us both.
“You can’t go to the dark side, Kat!”
I thought she was referring to Darth Vadar but she said with conviction, “Kat, boys do not wear high heels. You DO NOT want to be a boy.

Boys can not wear bootiful things or wear buns like this,” she said, pointing to a pig tail frizzed out, the other too high up, tightly wound.

I don’t take sides normally, but for future reference Lola, yes they can, and you may see that when your my age, most my favorite gays wear lip gloss and the occasional few look better in makeup than me, and even some women deal with facial hair so I will close this debate with Kat, gavel down, jury over ruled that yes, Boys with their erect penis problem and pitchy throats don’t have shit on bleeding and never dying, pushing out ten pound heads, nor do I think they mind erect penises at all.

I never remember any boy complaining, in fact, I think they are proud of it.

Time for another trip to the car.
All this blood and erection and Darth Vadar talk has me feeling a little whoozy.

Choices

I left Divorcee years and years ago, a young mother, barely able to understand herself much less the vows she took. I stayed and so did he, neither of us able to look at our life and imagine a day without our girls in it. We settled and didn’t even question the distance, the cold empty space between, the void, the growing ball of self hatred, the elephant I pretended not to watch just stomped me instead, over and over again.

In the leaving, I saw two girls so heartbroken over their daddy, I could die from just the memory of it, a stain so drenched in shame of their innocence, the smell of their blood on my hands could make me vomit in their presence.

I knew I had made choices that defined my life early, choices that led me to stay home, daddy coming home to the bills and a mortgage, my shirts drenched in breast milk and baby vomit paid my homage, a role I believed I had to endure. The truth is I loathed him for his freedom, the flippant way he hated his job, my thought of working and providing made my heart flutter like air. My very shame in wanting to work was the bondage he could never seem to make peace with.

And so, with my father vanishing, Divorcee’s tears and heart gripping hugs to them, I couldn’t take it anymore. They didn’t ask for this pain nor did they ask to come into the world to a young mom shocked and horrified at her own unconscious life, a life I couldn’t remember choosing, the constant look of longing and questions, their little hearts longing for the Daddy I knew loved them. And so, he moved in to take over, paid the bills, fed and clothed us, my mother and brother roommates as we all passed by, the girls in the circle, a circle I depended on for refuge.

And so they have soared, my little angels, healing and growing, Kat’s reading conquered, Lola’s first day at Kindergarten a blow we took together, friends and mostly a team, Divorcee and I. I told myself the room I had was worth it, the tiny little room with a mattress I did not own, a side table and lamp borrowed, my home long gone, all the “stuff” we collected together a vague memory of what was. It was worth it, the pain easing over time, the work of forgiveness and healing showed up like little lights in their eyes.

Only he knows what this cost, the harsh criticism, the judgments and assumptions, the weird looks, and strange distance of potential relationships, a blow I took for not having known my worth or passion. This new roommate role I settled into felt more comfy, like my favorite converse shoes, and was a better trade, so I took off their pain and wore shoes that said more lost than comfy, a bewildered zombie of a woman I did not know ran and ran, watching them grow from a different angle, but it was all just the same.

Again I was outside a life I did not want.

And like all things, courage came, the death of a dream in another form, the understanding that I wanted to live in a home I owned, with little towels that smelt like me, sheets I paid for, a bathroom I could visit without a turtleneck and deadbolt, which is pretty much how I feel every time I sneak to the community shower, never knowing if Divorcee or Baby Bro will have beaten me first.

I am an artist and nothing here is owned or decorated by me, strange glass vases and foreign colors make me weary and depression came down like a whip lash, my girls laughter in the back yard was nothing less than the cost of myself, my eyes vacant and hollow, joy a feeling I had lost long ago.

Until now. I found me. I found my joy, the passion for a work I could only dream to want much less own, and truly the shock and gratitude comes and goes like a slap, the pain and longing for my babies just as strong, my inner pull to do what I love.

The truth is I did not choose this job but it has instead chosen me, my body and soul a channel for the demand to create, no matter the cost.

I have not eaten from having spent my quarters, prayed as I shake from the gas tank on empty, not even able to buy the birthday presents much less the big party, I watch in sick envy as Divorcee clumsily picks the Halloween costume, nails the Christmas list, works tirelessly as a single Dad while I come home deathly afraid I have missed it, and the fear is not an illusion, but a truth, because I always miss something, every story or lesson plan or book read is a shock to my system, and I watch Lola miss me in her baby love, Kat shrug away in her silent anger, no longer a hero at her ripe age of 9.

And has it cost me. God, it has cost me everything. I eat, breathe, sleep, think work and art, my own presence vanishing off the map, my little girls holding my legs and crying for me not to leave, the hours have been brutal to them, and so I have promised them.

I have promised a girl house, with girl stuff, where girls where panties and dance and laugh, and this house has been the taste of freedom I seal the wound each night I miss the bath, the reading, the stories off the bus.

So, I have this passion, this creative talent and unheard of passion and drive, but for what?
You never get Mrs. Smith’s second grade concert back.

Kat has struggled the most, her needing me screams like a cat caught on fire, my heart screaming no as she turns her back to me, my sixteen hour day has nothing but “YOU LEFT ME” written, a pain I cope by working harder, certain the dream and the house and the ability to own a bank account certainly will make it all worth it.

Perhaps I will fail, miss every moment for a poor substitute, a dream is a waste for many or all of us would pursue ours.
I don’t blame them. I sometimes hate my own.

I tell them about Disneyworld and the house of girls and i see myself disappear in their eyes, and only God knows how I don’t just bury my soul in the grief, the guilt, the belief it has to be worth it and so I push, and push.

I can’t decide if living with them poor and broke when they are on their own paths, a cord they can never untie for needing to carry my weight is the destiny I am avoiding or if the truth of my mission will one day reveal itself to me, all these broken promises made good, a pride for my work and courage renewed by our love.

Until then, I sit in a room written with words of affirmation, words written to convince me I could do this and be happy, dependent on a man that never wanted me, who is releasing my title, living my dream, the one I have to go make space for while he is brushing their hair and hearing their stories, and I feel like a ghost, my life playing through a window pane, but he is in it while I am chasing it.

I sobbed and sobbed with Kat tonight, a breaking I had to have, my forgiveness I beg, my title of mother not worthy of such a precious little girl, and she is going to let me hold her tonight, a rare thing for her growing pride, to watch a movie in my teeny room, and yes, no closet door for extra storage space, my mission to make a magical sleepover in this once fearfully loved home, a space I never occupied but pretended to love.

The truth is, no space or dream can take her away, for without her I am nothing, and so I silently weep, a grief I know must be shared by millions of women all over the world. But right now, I hear nothing but the shallow ache of a hollow heart, wondering if any dream or art could give me back her, all the days, not just the moments, and I can not hear my own voice, the echos of these women I assume know answer not, and I sit in the breath of my choices.

I sit in the weight of my dreams.

“Bieber Fever”

Tonight is Friday night date night with Kat, my baby, who is officially 9 years old.
Thank God I have my mom, Divorcee, and a few doctors to prove I am actually her mother, seeing as she came out of the womb more responsible and definitely more mature than me.
She asked for a label maker for her 8th birthday, is punctual and responsible, STILL remembering the one day in Kindergarten I was late to school. One day of running late and the child has a book bag on years later, 30 minutes before my alarm, just in case. Baby Bro says she should have her own apartment. She is loyal and fierce, a nurturer and introvert with strong political statements, mainly about what a “Lepretarian” is, or Libertarian, Martin Luther King, who she threw herself on the bed in tears one day after school one day, sobbing,

“Mommy, they killed that man because of his skin! Why? Mommy, my heart can’t hold it.”
We pieced it back together with a birthday celebration for him, putting a place mat and candle on his cake in a pretend spot, her heart in silent memorial over this tragedy, and she has been my biggest teacher and greatest inspiration.

I knew she was older and wiser, but not a granny in a teeny body until this past year, a more serious and even embarrassed Kat is growing up despite all her Daddy’s fears, asking me to please call her Makaila around classmates.
She tells me I never wear my seat belt and I text too often while driving, shaking her head.
She wont even let me photograph her.
Only Lola makes her gut laugh, which is all the time, and so I sigh with some relief, wondering if Lola will pants the bus driver for attention and if Kat will have a nervous breakdown if she misses breakfast, a fact she points out is very important for health.

And so, let the labeling begin.
With my busy schedule and the new arrival of “The Collector,” I make dates with both girls alone, something I live for.
Kat’s biggest request I was dying on the inside but smiling at her enthusiasm that yes, people, we must go see…
Justin Bieber.

I don’t have a particular opinion on the guy except he has a baby face and ridiculous lyrics on love for a little kid but she pulled me tight with her most serious face and a low whisper saying, “Mom, please. Daddy is jealous that Lola and I think he is hot.”
Wow.
I didn’t know her and Lola even knew boys could be hot at 9, but I do vaguely remember “The Newsies,” a boy musical I watched 100 times, and of course, “Dirty Dancing.” I also know Kat is very political about her feelings about boys, unlike Lola who falls in love with every boy who sings a radio cover on You Tube.
Lola is five and faces the every day challenges of being a rock star, and so I groan.

Kat can hardly look or hug me any more, but I know she is in there, missing me, her forgetfulness gives it away,
and I look at her differently lately. She has become such a little wise lady, full of inner wisdom and
deep longing to be treated as she says, “RESPONSIBLE.”
Not tonight.
She jumped in the car with such delight, giggling and jumping, the joy was so contagious I found myself running towards the theater, along with five zillion other young girls and the moms, maybe one or two men in a sold out theater.
She ran up the aisle, eyes wide open, shocked, her mouth open and her little hands gripping me so tightly, the 3D glasses way too big for her face made me want to die of adoration on the spot.

Then came the unexpected.

Girls in the theater began to scream like their dog and kitty had just been murdered in front of them, screaming “JUSTIN IS SO SEXY!”
Kat looked at me, back to them and around her in amazement.
“Mom, they have the fever too, just like me!”
Whoah.
This was unexpected. Kat? My Kat? She rolled her eyes, pulling me in to whisper that she couldn’t hear over the screeching, that these girls were just ridiculous, until the lights dimmed and low and behold, my responsible Kat let out screams I had never heard, even on roller coaster rides.
I was shocked.
I was sad.
I was proud.
I was on a journey.
We had never been here before, Kat and I, her telling me how cute and wonderful the fever was, Bieber fever, her grabbing her heart and falling over as he jumped out of the screen at us, with our 3D glasses on at least.
I saw that even in her responsibility and labeling of crayons, my little girl in her youth was not mine.
I cried through the whole thing.

I fell in love with her all over again.

She did return to her senses, telling me no child should be not allowed to sing with a sick throat, and my favorite line was,
“Mom, I might have to sleep in tomorrow after this,” clearly exhausted from the Bieber experience,
a ride I could not help but ride with her, seeing as Kat has much better understanding of what makes a man amazing.
Clearly because she loves her Daddy, who she whispered, would NOT like the way Justin threw his shirt off, but that she in fact did.

She told me this was not for Lola either, much too immature to understand the way the Bieber flings his hair,
and I think without saying it directly to me, she said everything I never hear anymore.
I was her mom and she was letting her guard down, her eyes lit with amazement, her shyness only shown as she gripped to the seat.

She put her head in my arm when he almost did not go on to Madison Square Garden with Jaden Smith, a tragedy waiting to happen, and laid back in the seat with relief when he went on and for the closing people, he said to follow your dreams, her head nodding, an inspiration on her face I can’t wipe off my mind or soul.
Then, the only time I have ever seen Kat ripped with emotion in public was at the very end, when he began the encore of “Baby, Baby, Baby” and she along with a million other girls screamed like the coming of Christ, a fact I usually would just vomit over, this ridiculous worship of a child.

But not tonight.

Girls jumped out of their seats four rows down, singing and swaying, screaming and dancing, mostly teens, her little body almost jumped up, and then down, her self consciousness present.
She looked behind her, saw a few girls dancing, a longing in her eyes touched a chord.

Hello.
I did give birth to the girl.

And so, I jumped up, danced like Bieber had been my true love too, and I did know the words to my surprise, and it was the moment I put in my heart, the moments that make my life anything worthwhile.
I saw pride and love and she threw her body on my own, gripping my waist as we screamed and danced,
the fever of being alive and inspired lit us both up, and I felt like the most amazing girl in the world.
My Kat, not anyone else, was becoming her own, and she needed my permission, even more, she wanted me to show her how.
Kat, the baby who hides birthday money in a safe, let it all go, danced like no one was even watching, which she never even speaks without the fear of being watched, and so, tonight Justin Bieber, a man cub, is no longer a ridiculous pop star. I have in fact changed my mind.
I am no longer a ridiculing mother in offense to preteen nonsense.

I am Kat’s mom, and yes, maybe there is a support group but I have indeed caught “The Bieber Fever.”
I hope her Daddy survives.
I knew she was back to balance when she announced how terrible those girls were, the ones yelling from the back row at Miley Cyrus, yelling “BOO,” and “UGLY,” her horror that jealousy of a boy could be so destructive.

I sigh and smile with deep hurt and joy at this, the release of loving and letting go, my little girl gone forever, a preteen coming and fast, months and days I want to hold on to for dear life, to not let them leave, my heart begs and begs.

Until then, I will hold on to the Fever, to the day and moment and until she kicks me out of the chapel, will always dance not for him, but her, my tiny dancer, the Elton John nickname for my baby, the one who used to dance in my arms.

Lola the Lion

In the beginning of the quarter, I took Lola to school with me, not just because I missed her terribly, but because I had a portrait shot I had to take of her in the studio. I fed her chicken nuggets, played her favorite tunes, and unlike Kat, did not have to beg and bribe her to wear the appropriate clothing. She is a natural ham, loves the camera, and has regular conversations with women in various places on the latest fashions, a foreign concept to Kat and I.
She flips through clothing racks like a pro, and I just stare in amazement, thinking “THIS IS MY CHILD?”
It is a crazy thought.
They truly do come through you, not from you.
And, thank God. I can’t wait for her to be old enough to dress me.
She loved my school, the dogs she fed too many treats chased her through the art adorned hallways, jumping up and making her laugh, students stopping to admire her red hair. I wonder if I am warping them sometimes, while other times I wish I had been them.
We had Bible Studies growing up.
Kat and Lola help host bondage photo shoots.
My mom dressed up in heels on Sundays, her eyes all pretty and her lips red while she hummed to old tunes and children hyms, excited for Sunday mornings.
I believe I wore a red wig, all leather, and a tool belt to leave for a Halloween party, Lola admiring my shiny six inch heels.
Kat, one of logic and as Baby Bro says, is ready to move out into her own apartment at 8, looked me up and down, uncertain I looked like a mechanic at all.
It was Kat who tugged at my shirt while I was adjusting lights, and when I bent down to her, she whispered loudly, “Mom! That boy is wearing a wedding dress!”
I couldn’t help but gut laugh. Sometimes I can’t believe I am a real mother, especially after PTA, where I am bored to tears but go because that is what good mothers do, or at least what my mother did, I suppose. She always looked interested, raising her hand, and I doubt she were having to lock her phone in the trunk in order to not text boys during the power point presentations. I regress.
My mother was a beautiful earth mother, the kind of woman who comes alive with pregnancy and homeschool, education, school events, PTA, and carpool. She did everything a mother should do as far as our meals, education, discipline, and yet she had one teeny issue.
I was her daughter.
Nothing she could have done or did do would have changed my mind on why or how I would experience life, as a little baby she tells the story of me taking my baby finger to the light socket, staring at her, back at the socket, back to her.
“NOOOO, Katie.” She said it in her stern Mother Bear voice.
And I would wait for the opportune moment, and so my finger in the light socket moments as a baby would continue on into adulthood.
The poor woman barely survived me.
And so, I have no idea what Kat and Lola will think, but it only seems fair a rite of passage will come, to roll their eyes in complete humiliation at my quirky ways. My greatest hope is to not shape or mold any philosophy for them to adopt as their own. I am quite certain they are already the gift to the world, just as they are, and no matter the hymns or the cages, they will be completely free to see their crazy artistic mother through any lens they choose.
And so, after the lights, the posing, the packing up, shutting down and chasing her down the school, the portrait of Lola above was beautiful to me, her mommy, but my favorite was actually the one never used, as they always are. This is her in rare form, afraid, for the child is breathtakingly fearless.
It is me, a mini me, when no one is watching, reaching my finger for the light socket, the shock on her face makes me laugh every time.
I love you, Lola.
You are a piece of work, my shiny star, and my biggest fear all wrapped up in red hair, charm, and enchanting laughter.
I am holding my breath and crossing my fingers you are nothing like me, and more like your sister, but something tells me I am about to raise me, but to the third degree.
Don’t blame me for being afraid.
After what I have done to my mother, I know I should breathe deep, and be very very afraid.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Let the fingers in the socket begin………..

Lola’s Magic Lip Gloss

A small part of me just died.
I have been through death, betrayal, divorce, drug addiction, and break ups that have left me in the fetal position.
I have seen the events of 911 and Haiti and Katrina happen in my life, the destruction, pain, and struggle of others much worse off than me. I have cried tears of anger and compassion over these people I have never met, but are a part of me, because at the end of the day, we are all alike than different.
I even cry for people on Oprah, sobbing into toilet paper, yelling at the t.v., “You must forgive yourself!” or “How could you do that to your own child?” or “You can do it, one day at a time!”
Sometimes it takes a whole hour to forgive the woman who knew her husband was wearing her underwear but didn’t understand how he could be gay 15 years later.
REALLY? If I saw my thong on a man’s ass it would be a total ten minutes before all his shit was out of the house.
Perhaps I am just being judgmental.
The man who killed his nephew accidentally in the driveway, the woman rehabilitated after a horrible crash resulting in half her face missing, third degree burns on her body, getting up and taking care of her four children, thankful to be alive.
That one made me feel a little guilty actually, seeing as I had fed the girls Pop Tarts, and had shushed them cause Oprah was on.
Hasn’t every one seen the man with cancer giving his children his last lecture on how to live life?
I cried like someone had just killed my dog, my girls looking at me strangely, Lola slowly backing away when I asked her to come hug me, knowing I was probably going to do my weird mom thing, cry and hold her, asking her if she knew I loved her.
It is part of the human experience. Pain teaches us compassion.
And yet, no one has prepared me for Kindergarten Camp.
It is the step before Kindergarten, a week before, but still, she said her tummy was nervous, that she didn’t know if anyone would play with her, if she could wear her pink lip gloss, to make her extra sparkly.
Lip gloss is her good luck charm. She collects them and because we live in such a crazy world, she can actually put on Lucky Charms lip gloss to go with the cereal. Seriously.
She has all the cereal glosses, the shiny and sparkly, the ones that taste like flavors of the rainbow, and she spreads them across the floor, picking through them, and today, she studied each one of them, like one had a magic Kindergarten camp ingredient.
Kat and I walked her up the school pavement, her holding both of our hands, me praying for her in the car, and I smiled as she interrupted the prayer, being sneaky, whispering, “HEY KAT!”
Kat shushed her.
She for Lola will be that annoying sibling who believes in prayer, loves Martin Luther King so much he has a dinner mat at our table, and a birthday, and is line leader, and proudly announces that her teacher named her the “Role Model” of first grade.
As we walked her in, all of the sudden her little body stopped, her face crumpled and she let out a “OH NO!!!! OH NO!!!” She was on the verge of bursting in tears. I panicked.
“What?” What” Baby, look at me.” I was calm, like every mother actress.
“I FORGOT MY BOOK BAG!” she whimpered, tears filling, about to fall.
It took 30 seconds for me to convince her she didn’t need it till kindergarten, that this was CAMP, and pointed out all the children walking in without book bags, holding their mommy’s hands.
“Kat said for me to bring it.” Whatever Kat says, is fine print on Lola’s heart.
I looked at Kat, wanting to choke her.
When we got to the entrance to sign her in, Lola put her hands on Kat’s shoulders, telling her that when we picked her up, she was going to hug and kiss Kat all over, and Kat told her she was the prettiest girl in the whole camp, and that her teacher was going to just die over her red hair.
That made me want to lay in the grass and sob, a moment I wish to freeze like a snapshot in time, worth every sleepless night, high fever, black circle underneath my eyes.
Of course, I know I am biased, but am aware that with all her faults, stealing to be one of the few, Lola is the brightest light, her spirit arriving before she does, bigger than the sky, and it reminds me of this particular line in the song, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine….”
“Hi, my name is LOlA!” she yells to the lady from the back of the line, all the moms turning to laugh.
She skips, not walks from this point, and Kat says to me in the car, aware I am quiet,
“Mom, she is not going to miss you.”
I am sure she meant it with the purest of intention. I said “Thanks, Kat” with sarcasm, angry Oprah has not prepared me, nor has life, or all my experiences, for the day my baby has left the nest, to give her light and joy, to walk a path that has nothing to do with me. It feels like I got left and freed at once, leaving me unsettled in the fact I will just have to wait and see if I have prepared her, if she will follow directions, not steal little girl’s bracelets, be quiet when the teacher is talking. More than that, I miss her already, and I want all the years back.
I want to relive her all over again, but instead, I will have a good cry, sit in the silence of my little voices missing, and go through my lip gloss, wondering which one will help me see her right of passage, that this is the way of life, and that I can’t hold her light to myself, even if I could.
I don’t shine, if you don’t shine, Lola.
So go shine for me, and shine bright, because the world will love you and need you, and today I pick a gloss the color red, but of course, not even close to the color of your beautiful hair, a shade of red not even the perfect manufacturer could invent.
I will put all my dreams for you in it, like you did in your ring, holding it close to your heart, telling your Daddy as if everyone knew to put dreams into objects.
I think Lola is right, because applying lip gloss with her dreams inside of it feels very different, quite sparkly, and absolutely extraordinary, and now I see why she spends so much time picking the right one out for each occasion.
I think it feels fabulous.
Oprah herself needs to try it some time.

The Power of Magic Kisses

I love going on rides with Kat and Lola, especially on days warm with the windows down. Willy joins us often, always laughing out the front window, while the music is planned in advance before we go, each one of us waiting turns for our favorites. Kat usually likes only pop, the bubble gum radio songs I can’t stand while Lola is all about her mood, varying from bluegrass to reggae to classic rock. Of course I seize my turn with my favorites as well, but the most beautiful sound in all the world are my two girls singing very badly to radio songs at the top of their lungs, usually with all the wrong words. I laugh out loud every single time.
On this particular day, yesterday in fact, the QT was our first stop where we jumped out, grabbed a drink and bubble tape, while Kat stared in amazement at all the high school kids in private school uniforms. She seemed hypnotized watching them flirt, honk their horns, get in and out of different cars of their own.
“Mom!” she pulled my shirt. “These girls are in High School Musical!”
She was so cute I almost kissed her right there. I decided to spare her the humiliation. Lola, on the other hand, found a red head picking out a drink, marched right up to her and got into a conversation about her gorgeous hair, if she knew princess Ariel had red hair, the girl giggling, telling them all about her school play about Princess Belle. Kat was triumphant because of course, Belle has brown hair.
We hopped back in the car, on our way to the post office, where I found my spot right up front, put the car in park, the music down, nervously fumbling through my papers to check and recheck they were all in order.
Kat asked, “Mom, what is that?”
I sighed. “This is all the things photography school needs to see if I can come to school there, Kitty.”
Her mouth formed a huge O, her eyes open as if she were having an epiphany.
“MOM! It’s like my test! I got a test for first grade to see if I can go to second. It made my tummy hurt, member?” She got more excited at her own realization.
“YOU are having a test to see if you can go to school like me, right mom?”
I put the final stamp on, turned back to her, and the look in my face must have prompted the next question.
“Are you scared mommy?” With this question, Lola put her toy down.
I answered yes, that I was scared, but that it was okay, either way. We would have a good cry and maybe some cuddle time if I didn’t make it, and if I did, we would celebrate with some ice cream. No matter what, it was all going to be just fine. I started to put the package in the slot, breathing deeply, satisfied my part had been done and nothing else was left for me to decide, control, or even worry.
“STOOOOOPPPPPPP!!!!!” Lola screamed. It scared me and I jumped back, thinking a bee had stung her, my heart beating fast. She put her little pudgy fingers out and she said with dramatic force, “Mommy, please let me kiss it and put my special magic on it.”
I watched her close her eyes, kiss my envelope with dramatic Lola flair, hand it to Kat, who kissed it as well. Lola handed it then back to me and said, “Now, mom. Now you are ready for fotmograpee school.”
I felt the power of their love fill me, burning through my chest and into my heart, and I dropped that envelope with out a bit of fear or doubt, certain that no matter what the end result, magic kisses could heal anything.
“Mom,” Kat said, and she didn’t have to finish. I turned the music all the way up.

Burn Baby Burn

Kat, Lola, and I took a little cruise to drop some items off at the Goodwill.

One of the ways I make this sound like the most fascinating road trip ever is that I put on our favorite music, blast it a little too loud, and we car dance.

It is my favorite thing in the world.

We have had some hilarious reactions over the years from people joining us at car lights, motioning us to roll down our windows at stop signs, and I remember one woman in particular asked if she could join us by a sign held up that she busily wrote with an ink pen while her light was red.

We were especially thrilled today because I found an old cd of favorites from a dear friend’s wedding last year. The girls know every song, every line by heart.

From the back, Kat yelled, “Number 7 mom, number 7!

I love this song named “Barbeque” by ALO. If you haven’t heard it before, it is a song that describes the painful details of dreams that end, of being transformed, and in the end, dreaming something new.

We were singing as loud as our little voices would go and I felt a deep sense of what I have lost, and my chin started to tremble with pure gratitude that I am dreaming again, new things, big things, and as I was thinking, I hear a little voice from the back seat.

Mom! My dream never came true about my tooth coming out!” and Lola with serious eyebrows said, “My dream was lost cause someone ate all my Easter candy!”

And then, the chorus came.

Welcome to my barbeque where we roasts all the dreams that never came true. Welcome to my barbeque, pig out and dream a new…

Kicking their feet to the seat with the beat, Kat says, “Mom, I’m dreaming something new. I’m going to be popular and have play dates and never worry about my tooth again!”

As always, in her best attempts to overshadow Kat, Lola started to tell me a very elaborate story of a horrible terrible thing involving a child getting hit but then being given a scooter.

We all got lost in the music after that and I felt the tears brim my eyes and I had a vision of the three of us lighting a pit, writing down all of our dreams lost, turning the music way up, rising from the ashes, dancing in a circle, and dreaming new.