On Not Writing

I so rarely take the time anymore to just blog. I always regret it. I mean, the day passes and I sit back and think, Well, at least I wrote.

What a shitty attitude.

I spent most all of my day on this computer: writing, editing, designing, researching, and all other things writing related, and yet I so rarely take the time out from all of that to just simply write about my day.

So today, I’m not “writing” in the work sense of the word.

I couldn’t even if I wanted to…someone I love dearly keeps stealing my mouse.

And pushing my chair down the hallway.

And all manner of annoying cute one year old behavior.

Amazingly enough, I think he left all his good behavior behind at the National Aquarium. We took the kids two weeks ago for their first ever trip to the aquarium. It was a blast and I got some amazing photos.

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It never ceases to amaze me how much inspiration I can find in the beauty of marine animals and sea life and yet still…

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be totally and completely terrified of big bodies of water.

I mean, these guys are fantastic and fabulous, but I have absolutely no interest in going anywhere near their natural environment.

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Besides, the beach hates people who are as pale as me. It’s best I just stick to the aquarium.

And you can check out more of my awesome aquarium photos…or pictures of my family attempting their ninja picture avoiding skills, over here at my Instagram account. See you there!

Taste

The sunshine hung heavy and thick as lemon curd.
The air was one tall glass of hot tap water.
It dried up my mouth and clung there.
It sat in the back on my throat like Robitussin.

It should have been healing, this breath of hometown air.
It should have tasted like honeysuckles growing by the woods
and the thick smell of tar as it was poured down our road.

It should have lingered on my taste buds like dust from the fields,
been the sharp, sweetness of white corn,
bit the edge of my tongue like Old Bay in a paper-thin cut.

It should have been healing, this breath.
Instead it sits there like remorse, and the sunshine has turned sour.

© Laura A. Lord 2015

To Watch Him Love

I went through a year of horrendous online dating before I met the man who became my husband. I wasn’t exactly a poster girl for the most eligible bachelorette, but none of my hold-ups were much excuse for the sort of men I met. I was 24 years old and a full time student. I worked part time, lived with my parents, was divorced, and had two children under the age of five. I’m not an unattractive woman, but men weren’t exactly beating down my door to date me. More so, I knew that I needed a companion, not just a boyfriend.

I couldn’t seem to even meet a normal, down to earth man. Things became enough of a joke around the house that my mother would sit up at night and wait for me to get home, collapse on her bed and giggle while sharing all the terrible details of my odd nights out.

There was the man who was allergic to everything. I gave him an innocent kiss after our date, forgetting that I had eaten a piece of chicken, and almost killed him.

Then there was the guy who asked me to hold his belt while in the mall so I wouldn’t get lost.

The man who took the menu out of my hand and ordered food for me like I was three.

The guy who took me to a movie and proceeded to move down to the front row where there was only one open seat to “see better,” leaving me alone.

The man who figured out where I worked and spent an hour walking around the store trying out different women’s lotions before finally admitting he was one of the men I had denied a date request from on an online site.

The guy who took me shopping and then proceeded to tell me how I should dress.

The gentleman who stripped naked in his parent’s living room while I used their restroom.

The dude who attempted to suffocate me on my parent’s couch.

By the time I got around to talking to Mak, I was pretty wary of dates. A whole year of these kinds of dates will do that to a woman. I had a whole safety set-up – complete with emergency friend phone calls lined up and pepper spray.

Mak invited me over for dinner. I had such a good time that I ended up coming home and looking him up on Google and the case search program to see if he had some shady criminal past hiding. There had to be something wrong, considering my past history with online dating. He had a speeding ticket. That was it. Needless to say, I was impressed.

The next morning we had a quick conversation.

“I’m not really interested in playing around,” he said. “I like you. Let’s make this serious.”

If any other man I’d gone on a date with had said that to me I’d have gone running for the hills.

“Okay,” I said.

I don’t know why. I’d hate to chalk it up to some sort of fate thing, but maybe part of me knew he wasn’t a psycho killer. Maybe there was some deeper connection. Maybe I was just really brave.

Within a few weeks he had met my children and included them in our outings.

541497_397525856932511_2036391058_nA few months later was Easter and I was scrawling ‘I love you’ onto an egg and hiding it in the fridge.

“Go get the orange egg out of the fridge,” I told him.

He got up and I heard the fridge door open. After a moment it closed again and he came back to the couch.

Silence.

“Well…” I started.

“Well what?” He asked.

“What did you think?” I asked. It was the first time I’d attempted to tell the man I loved him and he was being completely stubborn about the whole thing.

“It’s cute,” he said.

“And…” I lead him.

“I love you, too,” he said. “You know that.”

By the end of the year he had moved in. We were blessed in our relationship. There hadn’t been many of the big challenging moments. His father passed a few weeks before our wedding, but it was expected, and while we mourned it hadn’t surprised us. Their relationship had been so strained, for so long. It was the first time though that I ever saw him cry – a moment that I think is imprinted in my memory. There is something about seeing a strong man mourn, something heartbreaking and frightening and so real it hurts that one simply doesn’t forget it.

I remember standing by his father’s bed. He sat in a chair across the room from me. I went to him, but he didn’t reach for me. I stepped back – gave him space. I didn’t know how to handle his grief. He took a few moments to himself and I watched him. I watched the years, the pain, the neglect from that relationship wash away. For those few moments there was love.

There hadn’t been many of those bring-you-to-your-knees moments. We didn’t even really fight or argue. We were thankful to have found a companion in one another that shared a similar sense of humor. Laughter got us through any time things seemed to be getting dark.

He stepped into the role of father as if it were all he’d ever known. It was never a look-at-me exercise, but came naturally. There was a gaping hole in our little family25248_108453875839712_7044406_n and he saw it, stepped into it, and never looked back. It was in the quiet way he made that transition that still never fails to amaze me.

He has a silent strength in him. A code of ethics that can’t be argued or even discussed. They simply are.

Perhaps it’s because of his quiet nature that people find him intimidating. Combining that with the sleeves of tattoos and long dark hair, it’s quite understandable. However, anyone watching him drink tea from a tiny porcelain cup with my daughter would realize how wrong they are.

Four years after that first date and I was talking to my brother in California, planning his trip home to visit.

“When is he coming home?” Mak asked.

“The end of June,” I said.

“Good,” he said. “We’ll get married then.”

Proposal. Date set. End of discussion.

I had a month to get everything planned and ready.

I love you, too. You know that.

After our wedding we decided to have a baby. A few short months later and I was excitedly waving those little pink lines around in the air. We were so excited we told everyone.

We were at his mother’s for a belated Thanksgiving dinner when I started miscarrying. My husband had the kids in the car while I stood white knuckled on the phone with the emergency room and watched my father-in-law toss the kids’ toys into their book bags. Hours and many tests later the doctor gave us the news.

“There’s no heartbeat.”

I’d known when I saw her face. I’d been crying since she came into the room. I looked across the room at my husband. I expected him to get up, to come to me. The doctor left and he still sat there for a few moments. In that space between us I watched him break, hit his emotional knees, mourn, and grieve. I watched him as he cared for himself and then he came to me. He put himself behind and cared for me.

For the following days he held me while I cried and found whatever ways he could to make me smile. We found laughter in the darkest moments. We suffered. We healed.

We spent months talking back and forth about whether or not to try again. The entire process had frightened him so badly. I learned to appreciate what pregnancy can do to a man. It’s a terrifying situation, especially for one who tends to like to be in control of things. There is no control with pregnancy.

He couldn’t see what was happening inside my body.

He couldn’t control what was happening.

He couldn’t stop me from being in pain, from hurting.

All he could do was be there and hope that I would heal.

“I’m not sure we should try again,” Mak said.

We were lying in bed, the lights off and waiting for one or both of us to become too tired to keep talking.

481829_525481010803661_775093643_n“We’ve got a girl and a boy,” he started. “You know? Maybe that’s enough.”

“You don’t want one of your own?” I asked.

“They are my own,” he said.

A few nights later we were repeating this whole thing again. It was like a record skipping, playing backwards, flinging all over the place. I never knew where we’d end up.

“We could try again,” he said.

“We’re not doing anything to stop it from happening,” I answered.

“If it does, it does,” he’d agree.

Three months of this back and forth indecision plagued us.

Finally he said, “I don’t think we should try again.”

“I’m pregnant,” I said.

We collapsed against one another laughing. For weeks we were quiet. We were so careful not to tell people too early. We went to each appointment with our heart in our throats. Every test was a negative, dangerous thing. Every symptom I had was cause to worry. We struggled to find joy.

Mak kept warning me not to get my hopes up.

I kept countering that he needed to not think so negatively.

We flew past each other, both of us on separate ends of our own emotional roller-coasters.

“Are you happy about the baby?” I finally asked him.

“Of course,” he said. “You know that.”

I love you, too. You know that.

I am five months pregnant today. A few weeks ago we went to the doctor and we got to hear the heartbeat. The tiny whomp whomp whomp sound filled the room. I was942205_603602919658136_1585711832_n laid back on the bed watching my husband. He didn’t stand up and come to me. For a few moments, he sat there and smiled. I watched him in this moment of joy and excitement and relief. I watched him take that moment for himself and then he came to me.

He kisses me every morning before he leaves for work. He tells me he loves me before we fall asleep. He doesn’t have to say that he loves me. I know he does. All I need are those few moments, where there is space between us and I have the chance to really see my husband. It is in those moments that I get to watch him love.

Mutant Babies and Free Stuff

Yesterday I had an appointment with the doctor for an ultrasound and blood work and all those wonderful things.

 

Yeah…it basically went like that.

babyBy the end of it though, we got to see baby and find out that everything looks good. Baby is healthy and active and looking just right for 12 weeks.

I showed the husband the pictures and he laughed and said it still looks like a mutant. I told him that he wouldn’t be very pretty stuck in water for that long either.

Silly man.

In his defense, the 3D images of the baby were relatively frightening (hence why I am not posting them). Baby will be beautiful…in a few more months when it gets here and we can dry it off and dress it and such things.

What?

You want me to be one of those women who “Ooo” and “Aahh” over little grey film of something I still need help deciphering as to what part is what of this amazingly ever-changing little being?

That’s not me.

I’m not even the happy pregnant type.

I’m the…give me my baby and let me get on with the mommy thing type.

It drives me nuts to keep saying “baby.”

I’m ready to say a name. And we’ve got names picked out. So let’s have some fun with this, since I can’t find out for six more weeks if this is a baby Lily or a baby Tommy.

I want you to guess!

Leave your guess in the comments below and in six more weeks all those who guessed right will win a free ebook copy of my newest book, Perjury.

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The Curse of the BFF

This is my very first time writing a guest post. Also, I am PMSing like a rage monster. (But I’m still cuter than Edward Norton, Eric Bana and Mark Ruffalo combined.)

*whewf* Now that THAT’S out of the way…

I feel the need to say that I love friendship.

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I’m super cheesy that way. Finding — and then subsequently hanging out with — people that make you feel like you’re not the only weirdo on the planet is cash money. Men and Women in Community instead of Competition is powerful. As long as your common denominator isn’t bullying other people or loving the Biebs, then FRIENDSHIP HO!

However, I have a problem with the title “BFF,” Best Friends Forever. I see it all over the place, mostly amongst 13 year olds whose feelings about anything last approximately 2 weeks.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but being a good friend is a marathon. Not just a wedding, but a marriage. You have to be IN IT TO WIN IT, and you can’t be the only one in the relationship who feels that way, you darling little Golden Retriever of Loyalty, you!

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If you ARE, then you have no cash money. You have slavery. And, chances are, they like it.

And if you’re under the title of BFF with that person from the time you’re pre-pubescent, it’s way easier to lie and rationalize yourself into adulthood about who they really are.

bffOn the scale of Best Friends Forever, from You Make Me Happy To Be Alive to  BFF? All You Do Is Make Me Say “EFF EFF EFF”, I’ve had them all.

I’ve learned that sometimes people are assbutts, and sometimes I’m an assbutt, and sometimes you realize that what you wanted in a BFF at 13 is not what you want at 25.

People change, and I’ve found that women change a LOT in particular. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing. But ladies, let’s be honest, sometimes it is.

How can we make it better? How can we be a true BFF that stands the test of time? I mean, I get it, not everybody is meant to be BFFs. There are levels of friendship that start at acquaintance and work their way into depth.

But we can still be nice about it.

Here are some Valuable Lessons Life Has Taught Me Like The Heartless Bitch She (Sometimes) Is.

1. Don’t Hold Grudges

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No matter the amount of time you have been friends, one of you is going to mess up eventually. Don’t be surprised or shocked, because, friend, I just gave you the heads up.

If they say they’re sorry, forgive them and move on.

If they DON’T say they’re sorry, you should probably still forgive them and move on because you deserve more than to be held captive by bitterness. **However, if they have a habit of not apologizing even when they know they’ve effed up, consider that this might not be the best quality in a BFF**

And if they’ve said they are sorry, and you’ve said that you forgive them but you haven’t really cause you never know when you might need to bring it up at some distant point in the future to make them feel bad, then guess who is the naughty BFF? YOU, sweetie. DON’T BE A GRAVE DIGGER.

2.  Be There For the Big and Little Stuff

As much as you possibly can.

Some friends are only interested in drama. Unless you’ve got something BIG going down, talk to somebody else. Their shoes are like “What extra mile?”

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Excuse me. Being there for someone means that even if their little story about the nightmare they had 3 days ago is boring you to tears, you’re gonna listen. You’re gonna put your arm around them and say, “That sucks. Good thing dreams aren’t real.”

THAT will get you much further than THIS.

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Big stuff is important too. Engagements, weddings, babies, funerals, break-ups, the list goes on. I’ve done my best to be present at every single one of those events in my friend’s lives. It matters to me.

Dear friends traveled from all over North America to be a part of my wedding, but one of them who couldn’t be there is still mad and won’t talk to me because I got married anyway. Apparently, I forgot that that day was about her. Don’t be her.

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3. Don’t Let Your Personality Burn Bridges

I’m weird. I’m an extrovert who thrives on people but still needs alone time every once in awhile. I have friends who are like that as well — I also have friends who just never. get. tired. of. partying.

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and others who only want to see me in their computer.

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At first, I thought introverts hated me, but now that I’ve matured *a little* I see that it’s not about ME, and it takes all kinds of kinds to make a world.

That being said, can I make a suggestion?

a.) If you are painfully shy or introverted but you love your friends, please try to tell them or show them in some way, at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be face to face. It doesn’t have to be a big long speech. Just let them know you care, because they can’t read your mind and you wouldn’t want that anyway. I know it can be really exhausting talking to people, but a little really will go a long way.

b.) Likewise, extroverts? Be cool, dayum. I know you’re a social butterfly and you gotta flap those wings and BE FREE GIRL, but ya know what is also cool? Making rooted, lasting connections with fewer people. Remembering them. Being intentional and meaningful rather than being perceived as flaky and superficial.

4.  Chicks Before Dicks

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New love. We know how spine-tingly, tummy-full-of-butterflies, and full-abandoney that makes us. It is so easy to jump with both feet into a new relationship, where you’re so consumed with each other that this other person is the only one that matters and how did you ever live without them before?

(I probably shouldn’t only say “chicks before dicks” when referring to relationships; I know that there’s more to the relationship spectrum that just guy/girl. It just sounded clever, aight?)

Either way, it’s not cool to abandon your group of friends for months at a time while you surrender to a haze of Eat, Significant Other, Sleep (?), Repeat. It’s healthy to maintain all of your relationships with balance. What happens if you break up? (OMG, I’m TOTALLY NOT SAYING you would EVER) You think you can just saunter back in on your friends’ lives as though you didn’t just ignore every phone call, text and email they sent you over the past 6 months? It’s shallow and selfish to assume that they will just pick up where you left off.

Or maybe your Love is Eternal and you’ll be together for 50 years until you die.

At some point, you’re still gonna need some friends.

5. Do The Elsa and Let It Go

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If you find yourself in a relationship where you’re being forgotten, undermined, gossiped about, mistreated, given the run-around, and ignored — it’s time to cut ties and say goodbye.

It’s gonna feel like a break-up AKA suckage to the max. Tears, stress-eating and thinking of them every time you hear what was once your favorite song.

I know. I’m in the middle of a break-up right now. I lost a decade-long friend 2 years ago, and occasionally, I’m still tortured by memories of her in dreams AND waking. We had *some* good times, mostly when she was single. But even then, she always had to be better and prettier and more noticed than me. She was rarely honest with me about her true feelings, so I was always left guessing.

After the debacle of her not being able to come to, or be in, my wedding (Her exact words were, “Maybe one day I’ll be able to forgive you.”), the camel’s back was broken. I decided I deserved better, and I let her go. Just quietly; there was no big argument or fallout, only silence.

She’s basically my source for this entire post.

If you’ve had a shitty friend, I’m sorry. You deserve better, and Better Will Come.

If you’ve been a shitty friend, I’m sorry for that too, and it’s not too late to change.

I think the problem can be boiled down to two opposing sides of the attitude spectrum.

“I’m better than everyone”……………………………………………….”Everyone is better than me.”

If you join ranks with someone because their life is “sad” enough that they make you feel better about yourself, it’s not going to last.

If you join ranks with someone because you’re jealous of how amazing they are, and you can’t stop comparing yourself to them so you only get close just to be able to imitate them, it’s not going to last.

The root of both of those philosophies is that you really think it’s all about you.

And friendship can’t survive when you’re just looking out for Number One.

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Why don’t we commit to: celebrating the successes of our friends, recognizing that comparison is the thief of joy, and to loving others the way that we love ourselves?

Other women may have put me down and held me back, but I will not continue the cycle because all they did was teach me what not to do.

If enough of us do this, then maybe the BFF can be redeemed.

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Told ya I was cheesy.

*****

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetHola! I’m Carly Butler Hutton, or rather, Button. I’m a birth doula, cupcake maker, ex-illegal immigrant, and I’m the newest cool person you know. Gimme a shout, eh? 🙂 Carly Hutton blogs over at Growing Butterfly, tweets @carlymbutton, Instagrams @carlymbutton and Facebooks as “Carly Button Loves.”

She is Raging

Trigger Warning: This post makes reference to miscarriage, loss, pregnancy. 

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I want to sit back and write something witty. I want to grab you on the first line and take you along some story’s path, so we can come out together at the end, holding hands and feeling quite proud of ourselves. I want to have words to give you, sprinkle around your mind like beautiful confetti.

But I don’t have it today.

I’ve got nothing to give.

I think all in all I’ve been handling this well. I mean, by the definition of “well” that everyone around me uses.

“Oh, she’s good.”

“She’s fine.”

“You look well.”

She’s not good. She’s staring at her Facebook and seeing post after post of baby bumps and nurseries and baby showers and count downs and newborn photos. She’s not good, because she’s angry and she’s jealous. It’s not that she isn’t happy for them. It’s not that she doesn’t wish them the best. She just wishes she had what they do. She wants in on that little world again.

She’s not fine. She’s standing in the checkout and people keep opening their mouths.

“How far along are you now?”

“You’re barely even showing.”

“How’s baby doing?”

When are you do?”

And so she has to say that the baby is gone, again and again and again. The words stick in her throat and she’s choking on them, bending over to let them fall out of her mouth with a delicate thud. She’s not fine and she’s sick with speaking of it.

She looks well. She lost what weight she’d gained and she has more energy. The pregnancy had made her so sick. She looks healthy again. There is color in her cheeks and her hair has regained its bounce. She gets dressed a little more often. She paints her face. She crawls into bed with her husband, aching and needy and everything is back to the way it was and her world has settled into a muted thing, because she is well and so she is waiting. Waiting for her body and his to have that tiny moment of collision that will breathe new life into her womb and it terrifies her.

But she’s raging.

She wakes up and groggy eyed checks her email. Entirely too many messages, but it’s the morning routine. And she sees the words:

You haven’t purchased anything off your baby registry. Sign in now to get everything baby needs! 

So the company attached a coupon to ease the burn behind the idea that she is such a bad mother-to-be, she hasn’t even bought anything off her list. She has no crib, no carseat, no newborn diapers. She has no bouncing chairs, no teething rings, no footed pajamas. She has no formula, no Tylenol, no soft and fleecy blankets.

But she has rage at seeing it.

She has pain that sparks behind her eyes and they’d call them tears, but they burn hot streaks down her face and she thinks she could set the entire world on fire with her emotions overflowing.

She is raging.

And her husband comes home and kisses her on the head. He asks, “What’s wrong?” And she tells him, “Nothing.” 

And she pushes the rage back long enough to kiss him. To make him his breakfast. To prepare herself for getting the children up. It’s a matter of survival now and she can’t be the woman she’s supposed to be with everything snapping apart. She shoves it down, like a pill stuck in her throat. She buries it deep.

Congrats on the new baby! He’s beautiful.

The nursery looks wonderful. You all got a lot of work done.

Good luck at the hospital. You and baby are in my thoughts. 

Look at that bump! Any day now. . .

Click this button to unsubscribe from future BabiesRUs promotions. 

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Herstory Lesson: “You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.” – Ernest Hemingway

I am One

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One kid home sick from school today who left the building skipping and probably could have stayed, but she’d already been signed out.

One hour away from ballet tonight and Tuesdays suck, because they’re so damn hectic.

One nursing home that won’t take my uncle.

One nursing home in my county that has a locked ward and could take him, except they don’t have one single opening.

One car that the heat stopped working in yesterday and it’s 31 freaking degrees.

One car that we just got fixed, but the heat stopped working again this morning and now the low oil light is on.

One bazillion snowflakes falling and I’m so sick of this shit I could freak.

One canceled lunch date with someone I think I could be friends with and I could use a few of those right now.

One friend that decided to lie about me to make herself look good and I’m still mad about that shit.

One kid who got her first pimple last night and had a meltdown and she’s eight and too young for this.

One set of books ordered on the changing body of young girls.

One search for Baba Yaga books for the boy and they’re fucking expensive and I can’t order them right now, because the changing body books are more important at the moment.

One friend who is spiraling into a depression.

One friend who is so busy and worked to death and I need her, but can’t tell her that because it would only add to her stress.

One husband who says, “That’s life.” and walks back to his room to sleep while I start breaking off at the edges.

One trip to the hairdressers needed, because the dye that was supposed to last for six months is already coming out and I found one gray hair when I decided to stop looking for them.

One call to the Realtor to tell her to hold off on the house searches, because we have no idea what’s going on anymore.

One shitty IRS letter saying they are holding our taxes, so even if we wanted the Van of Doom that I get at least one phone call about every day we couldn’t afford to get it.

One phone call from the lady at Social Services to hassle me about denying my uncle his benefits if he doesn’t get placed within the next four days.

One more medical bill from the hospital for the miscarriage.

I am one. . .more. . .thing. . .away from losing my shit completely.

Fuck today. I’m boycotting it.

Weakened

I was asked awhile ago to write for Black Box Warnings. If you aren’t familiar with them, stop trying to look them up…they have since quietly faded out. Over the holidays the site went down, and so while I sit here with my thoughts on the wonderful people that ran that site, and hopes that things will get better for them and they can return soon, I decided to share the post with you from here. I hope you enjoy it, though enjoy might be the wrong word. I hope it let’s you in for a moment. I hope it makes you feel.

That’s what writing it for, right? To make us feel something.

So I wrote about feeling weak. I wrote about the moment when I noticed weakness in others around me.

I learned to cherish weakness, the humanity of that emotion.

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You tell yourself you shouldn’t say anything. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before. This isn’t a new ride for you, but you feel like you’ve been waiting in the line for it forever. Your body’s been craving this thing, this filling. You’ve been striving for it, every ounce of your DNA straining forward, as if it were just out of your reach. But you knew you’d get it, and you did, and now you hold the proof in the little plastic strip in your hand and the plus sign is bright and pink. It practically screams it’s a girl, but it’s too soon to know such things. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before. Besides, they used pink for boys in the past. It could be his son. It could be his boy.

It’s his first anyway. Just because you’ve done it before, doesn’t mean he has. No, he will be excited. He will be nervous and frightened, because he is a good husband, a good man, and a good father to the two mini-clones of his wife that run around the house in the early morning hours with an energy you both envy. He will be proud of you and touch your belly and hold you close for a few moments. He will smile and grab his phone and you won’t even think about it. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before.

His mother is calling you and you know he’s told them. He’s told them all. In his excitement he has leapt onto the digital rooftop and yelled out his news through the Facebook megaphone. You haven’t even been to the doctor yet, but you know, you know. Your body is changing, quickly it seems.

You are older now. Your body has grown soft. Your husband doesn’t complain. He likes the curves and the shape women call womanly, in that snarky tone of theirs. As if any one shape defines a woman. As if this is your definition: your broad hips that are soft on the sides, and the small pudge of a belly that never disappeared after your son had finished pushing the boundaries of your body and leaving the road map of faded white bolts across your skin.

You don’t remember how you told your father the first times. You should remember those sorts of things, but you think hard and cannot. Your father is a silent strength in your world. Words are scarce, but heavy. The memories you hold strongest are the ones where you saw him weakened. It seemed so odd, so out of place. It seemed so fake, that you stood there staring at that man and wondering who he had become, until you realized with a sort of bone-deep fear that he was the same man who held you when you fell apart and there you were, standing there frozen, while they told him his father was dying and you could hear him suck in a breath as if he were inhaling the world. It was a silence so deep before the break that caught in his throat and choked you. It sent you running from the room.

These things you remember, but not how you told him about his granddaughter. The little child he had to wear a mask to see the first time in the hospital. You don’t remember how you told him he would soon have a grandson, but you remember him in the room with you when you delivered. You remember saying, “I can’t do this” and him telling you, “You don’t have a choice.”

It’s that silent strength and you shouldn’t have said anything at all.

But you ran out, your feet scraping on the blacktop, bare in the cold frosty air that seemed to come earlier and earlier every fall. The leaves hadn’t even finished turning and the grass was still green, but there was a chill that seeped inside you and you knew it was too early. He was in his shed working and you said, “I have news” and he said, “You’re pregnant.” Just that, two words, and you both laughed. You smiled and he went back to work, smiling and silent.

You go to the doctor and you see the picture. It’s a peanut in black and grey. It’s a tiny little shape, like a croissant roll wrapped and fluffy. You see shades and a flicker that they point to and say, “Heartbeat”. Such a massive two syllable word. You look at your husband and he’s sitting there frozen, staring at the screen in some kind of wonder. He’s got no words and it’s that silent strength characteristic again and you feel at home and safe, even though it’s early. It’s so early.

You’ve been so sick. You’ve been living in sweatpants and your husband’s big t-shirts. You’ve had to battle with yourself and argue with the image in the mirror to make yourself want to shower, but everything smells bad and all you want to do is curl up and sleep. You are so tired. Your hair is a mess and you haven’t shaved your legs in so long, the husband laughs when he brushes against them. He drags you into the shower. He hands you a razor, like a silent plea to return to the woman he knew before. Something has changed in you, and you know it is different this time. You know it’s early.

His mother has invited you for dinner. It’s a holiday and special, so you shower and shave. He didn’t even have to ask. And you buy a new shirt and wear your new pants, because your body is soft and it’s changing so fast. You do up your make-up and slide in your earrings and your husband stares at this woman and wonders where she has been. You ride to his mother’s with his hand on your thigh, sliding closer and closer while the children are in the back and can’t see what he’s doing, or figure out why you are smiling like that. It’s a rekindling and it’s been so cold. You’ve both needed it for so long.

You’re on the porch later, when dinner is over, the phone clutched in white knuckles. You’ve never seen your father-in-law move so fast. He’s throwing your children’s toys into their bag, while your husband stuffs them in coats, and you are dancing in the cold while your mother-in-law packs turkey in a bag. You don’t even like turkey. And grandma is hugging you and telling you, “You’ll be okay”. Last year you told this woman you loved her, and she said, “You don’t even know me”. You felt sorry for someone who couldn’t accept a little love. Now you are here and you don’t want her to touch you. You don’t want anyone to touch you. You have to protect it and everyone is a danger, because something is wrong, and it’s so early.

If there is something invasive they can do, they do it. You have so many hands on you, inside you, machines that are beeping and blood being drawn. You have a negative blood type, so you have to get a shot. You know this. You know without it, your body will attack the life inside it, like a parasite it is trying to rid itself of. Always so quick to grow, in a body that wants to destroy. You start thinking, what did I do wrong? Why won’t it stop?

This woman, with her short hair comes in and you know, because her poker face is terrible. And she knows it, and blurts it out.

“There’s no heartbeat.”

You know it is real, because your husband can’t move. You are breaking into a million little pieces on their gurney. There is blood on your thighs and that thick, sticky gel on your stomach. There’s an IV in your arm, but it’s hooked up to nothing, and a bruise on your hip that will be there for weeks where they gave you a shot so you wouldn’t kill a baby that was already dead. You’re leaking out and he isn’t moving. Your husband. He’s sitting there and he can’t get up and you know it is real. You know he would come to you, but he’s having his moment. You are seeing him weakened and it frightens you, but you can’t run away and you can’t even go to him, because there isn’t enough of you left to stand up.

You are home and your father walks down the hallway. You’re in the living room, trying to find some channel on the TV that will occupy your children long enough to keep them away so you can save them the fear of seeing their parent snapping apart like a collection of wishbones. Your father, that silent strength. That man of few words. The one who once sucked up the world into his lungs and taught you how to crack. He’s there and he doesn’t touch you. He stands a few feet away and you are very aware that he doesn’t look you in the eye. You are very aware that you have switched places, and he is where you were as a child watching him mourn.

“I’m sorry about the baby.”

Life Hacks for My Daughter

I was sitting here thinking today about all the things I wanted to make sure I tell my daughter at some point. I’m not talking the ooie-gooey things like, “I love you” or “You’re beautiful”. I’m talking the real, down and dirty tricks that I’ve picked up over the years.

***WARNING***

This post may be full of generalizations, profanity, and of course sex. We’ll rate it “R” for Ridiculously Awesome.

1. Ignore every commercial you see for those fancy women’s razors. Skip that department completely and go straight for the men’s. Regardless of what they say, men’s razors always work better.

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Also, it is perfectly acceptable to go without shaving your legs, as long as you are wearing pants and/or the hair is short enough to not poke through your pantyhose.

2. Speaking of pantyhose…it will never be comfortable. Ever. You can save yourself a bit of pain and buy one size up from what the little box-from-hell says you need. Doing this will not, however, pull in nice and tight all the areas you may be wanting nice and tight. For that, you’re going to need Spanx.

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No need to be afraid. Spanx are basically like packing your own sausage.

3. Oh yes, home-made sausage and fresh pasta and God only know what else his mother makes that you never quite manage to get right. Give up. Give up now. He will always compare your cooking to his mother’s, and she will win in almost every category. There is something inside a man’s head that makes him nostalgic for the meals he had growing up (even if his mother could barely manage Kraft in the blue box). There are ways to combat the feelings of anger this will cause you.

– Do not ask for your mother-in-law’s recipes, or to teach you how to make a certain dish. In fact, compliment her always on her food (Wine helps). This will do two things: irritate her and confuse the balance that she expects to be in place.

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– Take comfort in knowing that if you have a son, somewhere out there is a woman who will feel exactly like you when your son says, “It’s not like my mother’s makes”.

– Offer to house-sit for your in-laws and have sex with your husband in their kitchen. Then when you are over for dinner, just think back on that experience and smile. (Pass the wine.)

4. Instead of worrying about his mother’s cooking, focus on learning one meal really well. I’m talking entree, at least two sides, salad, soup, bread, and desert. Master that meal. Work at it until it is perfect. This will be your go-to meal. Your company is coming over meal. Your his mother is visiting meal. Your time to give the husband the credit card statement meal.

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5. Learn to walk in heels. Go out and buy six inch stiletto platform hooker shoes. Put them on and walk on them until you have nailed those monsters. This way you will be prepared for whenever the husband (or anyone else) gives you a pair of heels. If you can master those, you can handle any, and are therefore less likely to spend weeks walking around in your new gift like a drunken flamingo.

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6. Your children will hit an age where they practically become a parrot. And like any wild animal, you either muzzle them or toss food bits at them until they shut up.

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7. Your body is your own, guard it. Until you have children, then anything you might be delirious enough to believe is still yours, isn’t.

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8. At some point, someone in your life is going to offer you drugs. There are certain steps I want you to take before you accept them.

– Look at the person giving them to you…very carefully. Pay attention to detail here.

– Imagine yourself having sex with them in the next hour.

– Imagine your having sex with them without protection.

– Imagine getting pregnant with them.

– Imagine them 50, balding, and changing the diaper of your sixth child on the ripped couch in your trailer, while the rest of your kids are in the backyard shooting BB guns and attempting to tie each other up with duct tape. Oh, and you’re in a floral moo-moo.

– Turn around and walk away very quickly.

* The same applies to alcohol in excess. Except when you grow up. Then flip the image and imagine all your housework. Drink wine until the image disappears.

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9. Finally, before you ever consider some life-long venture with a man, consider these things:

– Sex sucks the first time.

– Sex sometimes sucks the first couple of times. There’s a reason one-night stands normally stay that way. It takes a bit of time to actually learn one another well enough to have amazing sex.

– That didn’t apply to your father and I…and yes, we were a one-night stand turned marriage.

– Your father and I are NOT the role model in this situation.

– All the sex stuff aside, if they aren’t the kind of man you’d want to introduce to your father…best to just let that one go.

– If they don’t treat you the way you see your father treat me, run.

– If they put their hands on you, experience tells me crock-pots can be dangerous as hell. Make your way to a kitchen and it’ll be like running into the Matrix armory.

– If they cheat on you, they will do it again. If you’re the girl they cheated on someone with, they’ll cheat on you, too.

– If their pants sag, I WILL make them a soprano for life. You’ve been warned.

Most importantly…

– If you can’t laugh with them, lose them.

– If you can’t laugh at them, trip them 😀

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And finally, let me just say…

You are not allowed to look at your body and say, “I don’t like -insert body part here-“.

I made that.

With my body.

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You don’t get to not like it.

Love you.