loveliness.

y’all, we are two weeks-ish (max) away from this baby.  and while yes, i do feel huge and gross and swollen and tired, what i mostly feel is…OVER IT.  MAN i am over it.  i’m so fucking over it that i could (and do) throw things.  and stomp around.  and generally have child-like fits. it’s not that i’ve just been pregnant for nine months, it’s that I HAVE BEEN PREGNANT FOR MY ENTIRE LIFE. my whole life has been pregnancy.  don’t you shake your head at me over there.  YOU try being pregnant three times in five years with constant nursing in between and then GET BACK TO ME.

here’s what i want: i want to go to sleep and not wake up every single moment i need to move my body to turn over.  because movement/turning over in my sleep takes EFFORT.  so it wakes me up.  and then i have to pee.  so i get up and pee every time i roll over.  and every single time as i am walking to the bathroom i genuinely feel like the baby is going to fall out of my vagina on to the floor.  then i come back to bed and throw a pillow on pat’s head because he is sleeping too soundly for my comfort level.

i want to put on a pair of underwear and have it not dig into my crotch/give me constant wedgies.  (did you cringe a little?  GOOD.)

i want to not scream or cry for NO reason at all just because my hormones took crack and then sat on my face.

i want to POOP when i need to poop without so much FUCKING effort.  (that’s right keep cringing.)

i want to take my shirt off in front of my kids and not have them look at me like i’ve turned into some sort of circus freak, and then have my husband come in and tell me i am at “alien status.”  that is an ACTUAL phrase he made up, all on his own: ALIEN.STATUS.  a phrase he says TO MY FACE.  ABOUT MY BODY.

my *measured* response to this generally sounds something like this: youcreatedthisalienyouhornball.

it’s all quite lovely, and ridiculous, and par for (my) course.

and now you know a bit of it!

i’ll see you back here soon WITH A NEW BABY PLEASE!

 

 

 

 

 

a letter to two.

f&e,

hey you two.
i thought about doing separate letters for each of you, and i think, privately, i still may do that.  but i also wanted to hold you collectively for a minute, in my hand.  and say this:

this month, a baby comes.  a sister.  a daughter.  a visitor of sorts, who won’t be leaving once she arrives.  this month i will become a mother of three, and you will witness the not-so-small miracle of being introduced to love.

i am scared.  boy am i scared.  i’m so scared, for so many reasons.  i’m scared of loss, and change.  i’m scared for my well-being.  i’m scared for hers.  and yours.  and your dad’s.  i’m scared that we will flail and fall, or that we will suffer an unforeseen heartache.  i’m scared that i won’t have enough room, enough time, enough space.  i’m scared i will sink.

but of all those big fears, what i am most scared of is that i won’t remember the time when it was just the two of you.

it makes me cry, instantly.  weep, really.

just the two of you.

let me tell you something, here.  finley, and edith.  let me tell you this.  let me tell myself, to read later, when i, in all honesty, probably won’t be able to remember when it was just the two of you.

you two, with me, without me, with each other, and without each other, are exceptional, large, complicated, dear, soulful children.  you scream, you giggle, you cry sometimes.  you put your arms around each other’s waists.  you sing the rolling stones and amos lee songs from places deep inside you.  you throw coins.  you make me tell you eight times to get in the bath at night.  you know it’s not your job to take care of me.  you tell me how you feel about things that happen to you.  you read, and you draw, and you dance.  you play pretend.  you boss each other around.  you tell me you love me.

i miss you both, already.  i miss the way you always want to get on the counter when i’m cooking, or when you ask me to zip up the fourth dress you’ve put on that day.  i miss when you want something and i say no and you say MOM! WHY?!  i miss when you wrap your arms really tightly around my neck at bedtime as i’m cuddling up next to your bodies and whispering things to you about you and your day.  i miss your sleep walking (edith), and your night terrors (finley.)  i miss hearing you storm into time out and then sneak out to shyly tell me you are sorry.  i miss hearing you run into the walls with your scooter and slamming bathroom drawers shut when you’re getting out your jewelry for dress up.  i miss the fact that you will always, always let me pick you up, or hug you big, or kiss you on the mouth.

i miss these things, even as they are here, because i know they will leave.

i don’t know what is coming.  i don’t know the next phase.  i don’t know what p will do for us, what she will give.  i don’t know how you will react.  i don’t know how i will.  i don’t know how easy it will feel, or how hard, or how different, or how natural.

but i know one, two, maybe three things.

i will be here, with you, with the two of you, always.  i will carry this time we’ve had inside me, even if i can’t always reach it with my mind.  even if i only know it in the ways i move, in the ways i give love, in the ways i speak and write and behave.

this is enough.  this is plenty.
this defines my life.

i love you both, and i’m so glad you, and no one else, could ever really fathom how much i do.

because, in a way, that ensures it belongs only to me.

 

 

 

parenting as a marriage builder.

it is a common and widely held theory and belief that parenting is hard on a marriage.  (most especially the parenting of young children.)  i’ve read all sorts of statistics and articles surrounding this theory, and, well, i’ve tested it in my own home lab.

we all know by now that my marriage has endured suffering, heartache, and weakness, and that it has also experienced deep love, passion, and true connection.  the facts and circumstances surrounding both our highs and lows are varied and dynamic; while i’m certain there is much more to come for us, pat and i have already been through a lot together – the richer and the poorer.

so much of our time these past five years has been filled with parenting.  parenting, y’all.  kids: the drain of your time and money and youth.  kids have zapped a lot of what pat and my’s relationship had been built on: travel, dinners out, morning sex, lazy, long days in bed.  it all seems so obvious, right?  you start putting energy into your kids, and there is less energy for each other.  it’s basic math.

and yet.
upon reflection (and there has been so much reflection.  reflection until we’ve been blue in the face), having kids has had significantly less to do with our previous hardships than i originally may have guessed.  not only this, but i know for a fact parenthood has enriched not only our individual lives, but our marriage.

parenting with my husband is a privilege.  it is hilarious and hard.  it is endless inside jokes and eye rolling.  it is laughs in bed about what they said earlier that day and frustrated sighs at the kitchen sink over how much they are annoying us.

parenting with another person is sharing a love for your kids that no one else can have or know – like a secret club that only you two get to be members of together.

finley always poops during dinner.  it’s just, her time.  it’s like clockwork.  99% of the time, pat is home for dinner, and so 97% of the time, he gets to be the one who wipes finley when she is done.  he’ll be sitting there next to me at the table when we hear her yell “iiiiiiii’m done!!!!!” and he’ll usually say something under his breath to me like, “let me just finish CHEWING my food please.  no chewing food while wiping poop.”

about an hour ago finley pooped while i was eating chips and hummus in my kitchen.  and as i heard her yell, “iiiiiiiii’m done!!!!!” i smiled so big, with all those chips in my mouth.

i smiled so big, thinking of pat.  feeling so close to him, so connected.  much in love.

and so i finished chewing,  tended to finley, and came over here to write this point:
i picked the right person to wipe my kids’ asses with,  and it’s a daily blessing for my marriage.

 

 

pictures and videos and life things happening.

the end of summer has snuck right up, and somehow we are less than two weeks away from the girls starting school.  this is the first year where finley’s school schedule will feel legit, she will go every morning, and edith will go m/w/f mornings.  i’ll pick them both up in time for lunch.  i’m sad that they are getting so old (!!!) but i think this is a good amount of time for them to be out of the house with a new baby coming – it guarantees i have some time for p during the week without the older girls around.

since we are still in dallas and still in our house, we had to make some living arrangement changes.  i’ll start by saying, while i’m still not SO in love with dallas all the time, i am SO in love with our house.  i don’t think we will be in it forever, but, as far as houses go, i could easily never leave it.  over the past year it’s finally felt so lived in, decorated, colorful, and homey.  the space itself is great and we love it.  what i’m saying here is: we’ve moved a lot around the last couple of weeks within our house, and i’m going to do a separate post on that next week!

so, for now, here are a few pictures and videos of our last few weeks.  summer has been the perfect time to soak up all this time with each other before the madness of the fall. hope y’all are staying cool!imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

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motherhood. and feminism.

i am so sick of motherhood being something i have to defend.  when, exactly, did being “only a mother” (which is a bullshit phrase to begin with) become some sort of social and supposed-personal problem?  when did it become anti-feminist?  who said it was not enough?  am i only supposed to feel empowered if i do something else besides mothering?

let’s start here.
number one: motherhood, and staying at home with my kids to raise them, has never been my biggest problem.  it has never been the reason i have felt depressed, lonely, self-destructive, fearful, or weak.  yes, motherhood has prohibited certain freedoms.  it has taken away the previous state of my vagina, my stomach, my boobs, and my short-term memory.  i don’t have as much personal time; i don’t have as much social time; i don’t have as much sex time.  i eat meals alone with my husband basically never and i sometimes lock myself in a bathroom to say fuck.

and, still, “only being a mother” has never been the core issue.  ever.

my biggest problem has come from deep-seated anxieties and fears around my own sense of self-worth and my security within relationships.  these fears are from my upbringing, and they have played out and manifested themselves in several ways.

number two: do you think being home with my kids all day every day is some sort of cotton candy, head-in-the-clouds existence?  do you think it doesn’t take guts, and strength, and patience?  do you not believe you need a strong brain and an open heart to raise young children, day after day?  do you think because i’m not paid money for the work that i do that it’s somehow inferior to a woman who is?   you’re wrong.

staying at home with my kids takes guts, and strength, and patience. being a mother who also works away from her kids takes guts, and strength and patience.  being a woman with a career who doesn’t have kids takes guts, and strength, and patience.

stop pitting me against supposedly stronger examples.  i am also a strong example.

number three: i get it.  believe me, i get it.  i get that when you stay at home with young kids you can feel like you have nothing else; that the sacrifice of time and brain space is immeasurable to a point that can take a toll; that there are giant, giant markers of your identity that you oftentimes cannot find, and this can be pretty unhealthy.  for everybody.

do i always fight the good fight?  no.  do i always stand up for what i believe in?  not every time.  do i sometimes stay up at night wondering what the fuck i am doing with my life?  you bet.

(do all sorts of people do these exact same things and ask these exact same questions? pretty sure they do.)

i am a well-educated, dynamic, thoughtful woman.  i care about myself, i care about those i love, and i care about the world around me.   i  didn’t “leave” these things behind to “only be a mother” –  i am that woman still, and i am also a mother.

i live inside a choice i got to make about what i wanted to do with my time and my life.  i think long and hard about the examples and the messages i give and will give my three daughters.  

and so, i refuse to believe i am not pulling my feminist weight.

because, in a fair fight, there is no winner of “best female,” mother or not.

 

a book.

i’ve had a tough time writing recently.

this happens to me, from time to time.  and it’s hard for me when it does.  writing has supported and carried and gotten me through the toughest times of my life.  journaling on pieces of paper as an adolescent, endless creative writing classes in college – poem writing, free writing, memoir prompts.

and then, just over five years ago, this blog.

the book has always been there.  the dream of a book.  the secret, hidden, way-down-there-inside-me truth that knew but didn’t want to say: i want to write a book.

because everyone wants to write a book, don’t they?  i used this (i still do), as a way to dismiss my dream, and well, myself, even.  “oooooh whatever, everyone wants to be a writer.  who doesn’t want to write a book?  no one even makes it as a writer so what’s.the.point.”   (meanwhile, did you know that plenty of people actually have zero interest in writing a book?! what?!)

but sometimes, when we want for something deep inside us, fear puts on the mask of trivialization.

and until we can figure out why we keep living in fear, action is hard to take.

i spent just about a year in intense therapy.  i broke open my life, and exposed it, all the pieces, for me to see.

my therapist, in one of our last sessions a couple months ago, asked me:
“and why, callie?
why do you think you blew everything up?”

i guess so i could see the raw footage.  so i could shed some of the facade.  so i could face who i was and where i came from.  so i could live inside a life i made, without all the fear acting as a fog.

and so, with some of this fear fallen by the wayside…i could make room.

i could make room to write a book.

the fetus of this book, that is almost so brand new it’s almost entirely still an idea, a thought, a dream…is beginning to grow.  there are some pages.  i haven’t yet seen the heartbeat, i still don’t know for sure if it will ever deliver.

but.
i hope stronger each day for its birth.  i hope in a way that seems…
attainable.

it will take years.  it will take sacrifice.  it will challenge me, and hurt me, and love me back.

as all real, good things do.

 

bedtime. and a shower moment.

the girls share a bedroom and a bedtime routine.  they have always shared a bedroom, but it wasn’t until six months or so ago that we started putting them down at the same time.  (until then, one parent would take each girl, or one parent would do one girl followed by the other. ((we would read to finley in our bed and then move her after she fell asleep in our bed or, if edith was already asleep, move her right after reading and cuddle time.))

once edith rounded two and their sleep schedules and habits fell more in line, we blended this process, and it has been really useful for me and pat.  it gives one parent a “night off” from bedtime to decompress, go out and do something, finish up some work or writing, etc.

*pat and i usually alternate nights, but we’re flexible based on what else is going on, how i am feeling, etc.*

i had always wanted the girls to share a bedroom from the beginning.  i’m not sure what my reasoning is here (we have enough bedrooms for them to each have their own), but it just seemed like the right fit for their dynamic.  they are close in age, they share so much, and they are also incredibly attached to one another.  (and actually, while in houston last week, they shared a queen sized bed every night and slept more soundly than they had in WEEKS.  pat and i could not stop peeking in on them to stare at their little arms and legs splayed out on each other’s faces.  it was so good.)

i’m sharing these logistics because i know some moms read this blog, and i am always interested in how other parents are doing meals, sleeping, etc. etc.  when you have kids you have to base your decisions on your own family’s personalities and style, but it’s also so curious to hear about how other families are doing things!

but the real story lies here:

last night i did bedtime.  pat snuck out right after bath to hit golf balls, and after two books in e’s bed i walked finley over to her bed, tucked her in, and got back next to e.  the three of us talked about our day and said a prayer.  (finley likes to ask god every night for “no bad dreams.”)   then i put on some soft music and laid with edith until she fell asleep. (which took 3 minutes.)  i crawled out of edith’s bed and went to kiss finley and lay with her for one minute.  she is always quietly awake waiting for me, and she wraps her arms around my neck and whispers, everytime, “mom, how much do you love me?”  “finley, i love you more than 100 million trillion jupiters.”  “YOU DO?!!?!?”  

(finley, y’all.  i highly recommend her for all your heart needs.)

i told her to sleep well and left the room, and decided to take a shower while i waited for pat to get home.  sometimes finley does come out so i made sure to pill around for a few minutes to make sure i could shower without being so scared by her sneaking in the bathroom that the baby popped out.

it didn’t work.  i waited several minutes but she still snuck out of her room as i was two minutes into my shower.  (thankfully my guard was up so no being scared shitless took place.)

as i watched her slowly walk down the hall to the bathroom where i was (i had also watched her slowly open the door and peer out), i thought, i’m just gonna let her stay in here with me while i finish my shower.  most nights we are strict about immediately walking her back to bed and saying, “it’s bedtime finley, please stay in your room.”  but, well, i was all wet.

and so she stayed.

she sat quietly and happily on her stool by the sink, talking to me, watching me, feeling, i think, happy to be with me in a space that she usually isn’t.  that feeling of “wow, mom doesn’t usually let me do this and it feels…special.  different.  random.”  she watched me dry off, put on my face lotion, and i let her rub belly oil all over my bump.

i’m not sure how much of their everyday bedtime routines i will remember as they get older.  i’m not sure if i will remember that we always read two books, or that they always prayed to not have bad dreams.  i’m not sure if i will even remember how pat and i alternated nights and sometimes he left to golf and i stayed to shower.  these things are so engrained in our daily lives as parents, they too often float to a place where we can’t retrieve their meaning.

but the moments, the minutes, the nights like last night – the times when she sneaks out and stays with me for a while, when i watch her little face watch mine, and i feel her little hand on my growing belly before i tuck her back in to bed…

those are the memories that won’t so easily float.

and they may just stay with her, too.

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