Saturday, November 7, 2015

If and when

6 days before a scheduled C-Section, I found out my step mother (my momma) had 2-3 weeks to live. As much as she thought it would be her heart, from the years of living and yelling at my father, it would be cancer to do that fierce woman in.
3 days later I hid all signs of labor in order to dilate in peace and avoid a c-section that not only petrified me ...but delayed me two weeks of travel. 
3 days after Aeva was born, we were driving 13 grueling hours from Augusta Georgia to Miami.  
In the first few days I shut down to anything that didn't relate to learning the little being nuzzled to my chest in her Moby and drinking in the last I would see of my blonde green-eyed mother.
It was when I was standing in the shower at the end of the first week, hot water raining down on me, that I broke apart. 
I felt torn wide open physically and emotionally. I pushed too hard in labor, I had stitches where no one wants stitches, I had an empty swollen womb that still didn't comfortably allow waistlines. My boobs were raw from the first awful days of nursing a child with a bad latch, and tight from engorgement. I hadn't slept. I hadn't eaten. I both ached to hold my infant even then but wished my arms would hold just themselves up a little while. 
Instead my shoulders sagged and my world crumbled. My momma was leaving this earth and it grieved me, but I had brought my Aeva into this world against so many odds and for that I rejoiced. One tinged the other.  I cried hard for all the destruction in and out of my body and wondered if I would ever be able to come back from this desolation. If I would ever not feel like I had just been ripped from the middle up. 
I wondered if I could mend. 
Nearly 4 years ago a decade long marriage ended and I was suddenly irrevocably on my own with two small girls and zero answers. The only thing I knew was that my daughters needed proximity more than I needed pride or protection. I drove to Maryland from Texas. I wondered if the drive would ever end. In Maryland I quickly scrambled for a job after 3 years of being a stay at home mom. I hadn't finished college, I didn't have much money, a reliable car or home, nor much sanity left to speak of. I wondered if I would ever get hired. I wondered if I would make enough. How I would afford lawyers for two court I would manage two children full time as well as a job and mounting legal concerns. I wondered if I would survive. 

2 years ago I had massive orthopedic surgery. 
I'm pretty sure that if I wasn't so thickly drugged up when the nurses at Ellwood City hospital tried to wake me after surgery and I had some control of my tongue and lips I would of been yelling:
Instead all I got out were unintelligible moans of pain and discomfort. My whole left leg had been jigsaw puzzled and I think they tried jamming the wrong pieces together. 
To think the night prior I had promised myself I would run a 5k. Right then I doubted if I would even walk. 
The first time I met Steve I was 3 weeks post op and had just had two sadistic nurses clip and yank 60 steel staples from my two incisions. 
I was not a happy camper. 
Steve was way too chipper. 
What's more, he looked entirely fresh out of school and eyed my chart like a geek with a brand new science kit. 

'Fuck,' I thought. 'he's never seen this kind of surgery'

"Well, I've never seen this kind of surgery but I did a little research!"
Nailed it. 

Day one was full of measurements and briefing. 
While Steve ran me through range of motion measurements, or lack there of, we talked about time lines. 
How long on zero weight-bearing on the op leg?
When can range of motion be increased? 
When will partial weight-bearing be allowed? 
How long will you need to be on crutches? 
And then a new one: 
"What's your end goal?"

No one really asked that up until then. I mean, I had surgery in order to treat and cure AVN (avascular necrosis) in my femoral head. It's not really something you come out of with a goal. That's kind of the surgeons thing. You know: My end goal is to not cut up the wrong leg and manage to stitch it all up the right way. 

"I want to run a 5k."

I remember Steve unflinchingly nodding his head and smiling. 

Dude is way too damn positive. 

I wondered if he'd realize how absurd my goal was. I wondered if he forgot how torn up I was. 

The days that therapy was its worst, I sat in the shower at night and cried with self pity. Then self loathing. Then exhaustion.

I wondered if this roller coaster would stop. If I would feel normal and able. If I could overcome. 

"Not if, but when."

Steve always said it to me. 
"A 5k is not a matter of IF but WHEN you run it. And when you do, I want to see it"

July 2015 14:55 minute miles 
October 2015 12:53 minute miles 

Today I ran my 2nd race. In the cold rain with the wind saying "NO" and the ground proving difficult. 
I ran along side my childhood friend Evelyn, having flown to see me..whom I had wondered if I'd ever see again. 
I walked and ran and pushed through doubt and pain. 
I ran thru the Finish Line and straight for the can.
Each time I've had sight of a race's finish I get so excited I spontaneously gag and dry heave. I'm sure the camera man in my face caught me diving into the crook of my elbow hoping to staunch any mess. 
Like an overexcited dog, I get so worked up I hurl. While everyone around me thought I had simply pushed that hard for time I had merely pushed so hard for my When. I laughed between heaves and sank to my heels with simple happiness. 

Two almost feels better than one. It feels like continuity. Like healing. Like surviving. Like overcoming. 

Like...when I drove out all the if's. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mother's Day

"Sorry to break it to you Momma, but Mother's Day is cancelled this year again."

You swing your legs over the side of the bed, sitting up, hands on knees, your head aimed down like youre tired but you look up at me and smile. You shrug and push off, ambling towards the door.

Its barely daylight.

"Momma, its early and theyre still asleep. Its gonna be a busy day today, you dont get that rest."

We've made it to the kitchen where the first rays are crossing the living room through the balcony curtains to streak the cabinets and counter tops cleaned just last night. You've reached the coffee maker, filled up the pot and start counting the scoops of grounds.

"Didnt you hear me Momma?"

Pressing the start button, you nod.

To you, its like I didnt say a word and I didnt just cancel your day.

But I see you Momma.

I see you measuring ingredients and setting out plates just enough so that little hands that want to help can mix and pour all by them selves. I see you acting surprised when they run into the kitchen with eagerness to make you sweet cakes, eggies and toast for your Mother's Day. Giggling because they get to treat momma to breakfast.

"She'll be so happy!"

I see you cleaning up the mess, Momma. I see you doing the dishes.

I see your lap crowded with paper flowers you taught them to make, cards you gave them petty cash for, their inscriptions spelled out by you when they ask: "Momma, how do I spell Happy? One P or two?"

Yet still you smile wide as you read the proclamations of love outloud and shower each one with kisses.

I see you dressing those babies up so beautifully Momma. A brush barely through your hair but the little ones are prancing about in their best.

"Dont I look pretty for you now Momma?" they ask
"You always do."

I see you take them to the park Momma. I see you pushing them on the swing.

"5 more minutes Momma!"

I see you watching them each. Not sitting. Not reading. Not relaxing one bit.

The day is full of activity and the world seems to be out to celebrate their matriarchs; their mothers and grandmothers and aunts. They tote bouquets of lilies and chrysanthymums, tulips and roses. There are ballons and chocolates. New purses and certificates for massages. There are fathers to hold babies and give Momma a rest.

And I see you wiping dirty faces, holding discarded jackets and napkins.

I've seen you running to the school on your lunch because shes forgotten an instrument. Swearing that you ought to teach her a lesson in responsibility by not taking it, and yet you kiss her head before you go and never tell her so.

I see you, sick as a dog, but saving your sick days for those mornings when a Little doesn't feel well. For a field trip needing a chaperone. A teacher parent conference. A play. A day that would be more miserable missed at work while healthy than at that same desk feeling like death. 

I see the other mommas, more troubles than shoulders can hold but never too heavy laden to love their child. To stay up late for them, to go an extra mile. 
I see the Mommas that are Daddies too. 

Momma, there's no rest for you nor any that you'd take. 

I see you momma, this is a Mother's Day. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Grinds Me

I should probably own a Keurig by now.

Most mornings I wake up dazed and confused roused by my insistent alarm clock. Like a zombie I shuffle towards the coffee pot, palming my way around the kitchen island. Not sure why it works but if I close one eye and squint with the other, I can typically find the filters and ground coffee in 4.26 minutes flat. Sometimes absent-minded staring is required because I simply cannot remember what the hell im doing in front of the pantry.

4 or 5 heaping spoonfuls of coffee in a filter and a pot of water later I fat finger the big 'ON' button, and rest my head on the counter as perculating sounds start popping.

Sometimes I wait for it to finish, but days like today I dont. Cream and sugar already in my mug, I take the coffee pot off its base and pour.

There is an astounding congregation of black specs surfacing in my coffee. As coffee continues to drip onto the hot plate, I lift the lid and find that the filter folded over on itself and the coffee and grinds have flooded the reservoir. Now theres coffee spilling from the hot plate on to my counter so I return the pot and the hot plate hisses wildly.

From previous experience I know I just wont like the coffee grounds in my coffe and spooning them out wont save me from those that have already drowned and will ruin my last sip. What I need is to filter this sucker. Yea.

To be honest, Im spoiled. Usually this was Iris's morning routine. The kid once asked me if she could help make coffee for me and I let her. She makes a mean mug. Like, 3 spoonfuls too many per cup of water mean. But it perks me right up after growing in some chest hair.

Lately I have had to learn to do this all by myself.

If you have been reading me for a little while, you might have guessed that I share my kids with their father. What you may not know about was the 2 and a half year long custody battle I was fighting until just recently.

By recently I mean almost 3 months ago. I started this entry almost that long ago and then sat staring at the screen, shook my head and walked away. 
Sometimes my muse just doesn't want to talk to me. Sometimes I just don't want to talk to myself about this shit so I let it marinate.

This coffee however...wont be helped by marination. Is that a word? Marination? I cautiously placed a filter over a clean mug so as to re-filter the grinds out of my cuppa. I poured slowly, cautiously....all over the effing counter. and the side of the filter slipped and fell into my mug. Grinds man. Grinds in my coffee. AGAIN.

You know, divorce is hard. Wether amiable or not, its not an easy feat. Its not enjoyable and im pretty sure it will haunt me a good long while. But custody disputes? Those are traumatizing. For you, for your kids, for your wallet. Judges are not impatial. Money DOES dictate quality of defense. People hold grudges. Mean, deep, damaging grudges.

I started off the case as best as I could, but I am human. I have emotions and a demanding job and no sick days left sometimes. Ok...all the time. I literally have not had vacation time used for anything other than court or sick children in 3 YEARS. I let that frustration get the best of me. 
Worst part? It all haunted me in that court room for 3 long greuling days (3s not my number!) Nothing illegal. Nothing crazy. Just...nothing that resembled whom I am. Whom I wanted to be. 
Back when I had my accident, while I learned to walk again and hoped that I entire life replayed itself. I vowed never to take health and life for granted again. 
In that court room, I saw the me that was Momma Bear. ANGRY Momma Bear. Fearful momma bear. The Defeated Momma Bear throwing punches wildly in her grief. That was not grace or poise or role model material. I stood at that fork in the road and decided...this is not whom I will ever be again. I won't allow a situation to take away from me. I could start over again. I don't NEED these grinds in my life. 

I have this handy little app on my phone that tells me just how much crap I eat every day. How bad it is for me and how I'll never lose weight this way. 
What I mean is, it's a calorie counter. For a while there everyday I'd go over my caloric allowance and it would shine all red and angry. So the next day I start again. Somedays id meet my allowance. Somedays I'd go over. Lately, I'm right on track. Until I remember the icecream bars in my fridge. Little red specks all over that app. I've quit trying on weekends. Far as I know, weekends don't exist to your metabolism. They're like free shots. If free shots mean anything resembling 'no points against'. But what the fuck do I know about sports to be making baseball references. Seriously. I guessed my march madness bracket. I'm just not a football fan! Every Monday though, I start again. 

At this point I'm just staring at my coffee mug. 
You ever just stared hard at something and willed it to FIX itself magically? That was me and that mug. I stood there, hands on opposite sides of this thing, leaning over, nose to rim. Willing it. To dissolve the grinds. It's right there. The sweet nectar of the Gods. Right. Beneath. The. Surface. 
I grab a spoon and try to fish out the specks but in goes the spoon and SCATTER goes the grounds. 
Fuck me. I just want java! The more I viciously scoop, the more coffee I'm dumping in the sink. I'm going to be late and this mug is defeating me at an alarming rate. 

In this world I have no idea what the future holds. 10 years ago I never imagined that I would be in Maryland, fighting a coffee cup, living alone in an apartment with part-time children, working in a produce company, nursing a bionic hip. 
I didn't want this. Still don't. But there's no plausible alternative I could want. I tried every avenue possible to stave off the inevitable. I lost patience. I started treading water. Frantically attempting to stay afloat a situation that just wasn't viable. I never wanted to make it this far in life only to start over again. To share my children and know that they live two lives in two households because that new-normal is in their best interest. Even if it grinds me, I can learn that something's aren't salvageable and that we can always start anew. 

I dumped the coffee full of grinds I couldn't filter out. I couldn't fix my error. Or what it did to my mug of joe. 

There's grinds in that coffee but it's not the coffee I HAVE to drink. 

New filter in the machine. 4 scoops. Not 3. Water. On. 

I can always start anew.