Thursday, October 8, 2015

My Rock

I have a friend, G.  She is moving.  To Houston.  I am really sad.

We first met at our neighborhood tot lot (across the street from my house) after we'd been in the neighborhood for a few years.  When we first moved in I would dutifully walk across the street with A and D on Monday afternoons when all the kids that go to public school would hang after early dismissal.  I smiled. I tried to enter conversations. But I was pretty much ignored. It was a tough crowd to break into.  First, I was a working mom (granted I work 3 days at home), but due to my schedule I couldn't participate in any of the organized play groups to meet other moms.  Then, as my kids got older, we didn't go to the local public school putting us further on the outside of what seemed to me at the time as an impenetrable fortress.

Then one day my boys were sitting watching some older boys (as in one year older than A) play football.  I could tell they wanted to play but were too shy to ask.  Then suddenly a mom who must have seen the dynamic walked up and yelled over to her son, "Hey Lou! Why don't you ask these boys to play?"  While the other boys rolled their eyes, sweet Lou walked over, introduced himself and asked them to be on his team.  Now nobody would throw them the ball, but after D tackled a few of the big boys to the ground a little acceptance was gained.

I walked over to thank this nice mom and we got to talking.  Turns out we both like to read, have similar senses of humor and take similar attitudes towards parenting.  A friendship slowly started building.  When L was born, her oldest daughter became my "mom's helper." I loved hanging with her kids and got mad soccer props from Lou for being a "soccer mom" who could actually play.

Then the accident happened.  Family tragedy can be a clear litmus test for friendships.  G was always there when I needed her.  She never tried to be intrusive in our shock and grief.  Lots of  people would drop off dinner, but then try to stay and "get the scoop" about what really happened and how the girls were. One of my favorite memories of her help was when I called and told her we had no toilet paper and within minutes a package was on our porch with no questions. All of this while her own mother was dying.

A week after the accident was Halloween and many people avoided our house thinking we wouldn't hand out candy or that our boys wouldn't trick or treat.  I'll never forget sitting on our porch waiting for someone to come so I could hand out the candy in my giant bucket watching kids and parents pass by our house.  Then out of the dark up walked Lou who gave me a huge hug and told me how sorry he was (okay tears forming in my eyes just thinking about that night).

Over the years our friendship has deepened.  Her husband is one of my favorite people. She is my late night text buddy.  Most days don't go by without her making me laugh.  G gives me tough love when I need it. She is my go-to person with help with rides for the kids (this seems like a trivial thing but you need to understand that my kids don't like riding in cars with other people besides me and K--she is just that special).  My kids love her and I truly know that she loves my kids.

She is the only in real life (IRL) friend that reads my blog. 

So this post is a tribute to my rock.  One of only a handful of people I truly know is my friend and who I always know I can count on. 

Love you G. I'll miss you.  Thank goodness my texts will still reach you in Houston.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Mr. Independent

We had one of our normal busy weeks last week.  Lots of school, sports, work stuff all jumbled together.  Things got a bit disrupted too with all the weather related cancellations, practice moves, etc. 

Somewhere in there a postcard project on a country from South America got lost in the mix.

Backtrack a few weeks ago, when L came bounding into the house after school and declared he had a project to do in Spanish and he was picking Chile because Daddy used to live there and Granddaddy E goes there all the time.  "Sounds good buddy!' I declared and filed it away in my every expanding and contracting index card holder in my brain off all the little things that need to get done in our family.  I think I might have vaguely asked when it was due and I think his equally vague response was "sometime in October."

Flash forward to Saturday night about 7:30 when K, D and I rolled in from a soccer game about 2 hours away.  L stayed home with A and M (and a friend of A's) because it was a rainy day he wanted to stay home with the big kids.  As we walked in and I asked how the day had gone, L declared that he finished his Chile project.

I looked at him surprisingly, "You did? When is it due again?"

He looked up at me and very matter-of-factly declared, "Oh it was due on Tuesday, but I told her that I had completely forgot and she said she'd give me an extension.  So I just did it."

First the wave of mom guilt hit me that I didn't have any idea when the project was due and wasn't there to help him.  Then I thought that I'd better make sure I check it over because how good of a job could he have done pulling the information together on his own? Especially with all of the shenanigans that most likely went on while we were gone with the teenagers, I was very doubtful about how well he had completed the assignment.  Then I got distracted by being shown video evidence of the shenanigans and completely forgot about the late assignment.

Flash forward again to Monday morning when I looked through his backpack to make sure I signed everything in his test folder.  Low and behold there was the "postcard" about Chile he had written and including a drawing of an Easter Island statue.  I started reading and much to my surprise he did a great job!  It hit all the major points he was supposed to make and he even had a joke (very signature L).

I sometimes feel bad that L gets the short shift right now in our parenting.  The big kids take up a lot of time.  Our little L as the youngest has always been our "no fanfare" just get my shit done kid.  He gets home from school, grabs a snack and does his homework.  He rarely asks for help.  Even the fact that he told the teacher he forgot and then took it upon himself to be responsible and get it done is so very unlike the other kids.  The other kids would have brought much more drama (tears) and most likely an email from me to the teacher explaining that "we" had forgot.

In some ways being the youngest stinks.  In other ways, though, L is getting the skills that will do him very well in the future.  I am always proud of him, but this one kinda took the cake.  He's a pretty cool kid.  Love him.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


And in time
As one reminds the other of past
A life lived much too fast to hold onto
How am I losing you?

A broken house
Another dry month waiting for the rain
And I had been resisting this decay
I thought you'd do the same

But this is all I ever was
And this is all you came across those years ago
Now you go too far
Don't tell me that I've changed because that's not the truth
And now I'm losing you

Fragile sound
The world outside just watches as we crawl
Crawl towards a life of fragile lines
And wasted time

-Ditmas, Mumford and Sons

I was just driving through the neighborhood after dropping D off at practice and Ditmas came on the stereo.  It hasn't come up on my IPod in a while and I forgot how much I like it.  I quickly turned up the volume and started singing and car seat dancing.  I was literally rocking out.  It got me to thinking about what some of the neighbors might think if they saw me. It led me to memories of Saturday night when we went out with our friends from college to see an 80s cover band.  We drank and danced and had a blast with people who've known and loved us for over 25 years.  Dancing to "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and rocking out in my car to Mumford feels like the real me.  Just like I always feel better after I play soccer.  I forget about my stress and only focus on the present moment.

I've gotten out of the habit of writing on this blog.  The first month of the school year (plus all the kids' sports) coupled with being unbelievably busy at work has conspired to wipe away lots of my habits.  I just wrote an 88 page technical document for work which required working long days and late nights for the last few weeks.  Writing for work is exhausting taking away all of my energy to write in this space.  While I'm pretty proud of the work I did for my client, it made it hard to be a good mom.  The house looks like a tornado hit it.  We have all gotten used to grabbing laundry out of the dryer or from piles of folded clothes on the floor in the family room.  Menu planning has gone out the window.  Too many diet cokes and late night Oreos as coping mechanisms. Bad habits have won out.

On the other hand, needing to be overly focused on something as intense as this deliverable means that it doesn't leave a lot of room to be worried about other things.  Work stress has trumped lots of things this last month.  I could put my earphones on and drown in the intricate work I was doing and have the perfect reason not to do things that I would normally do or think about the tough things in my life.  I had a good excuse to let things slide. There hasn't been a lot of mental room for deep thinking. My grief can be put back in its jar.

My little car jam session, though, clicked something in my head.  I am very easily overwhelmed by my life stress that I forget that it's my life--the life of a beer drinking, soccer playing, sometimes bad language using, book reading, Bravo TV watching, goofy woman.  My role as mom (or in the last month principal analyst) sometimes squishes that Peg. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mom (I don't love work that much).  I am so busy managing our family, though, that I usually forget about my own needs.  I struggle with finding my own identity outside of being Mommy/Aunt Peg.

We've just entered what I've been referring to as our "cluster of grief."  September 9th was Mike's birthday and then we move to the accident anniversary, Jeanne's birthday, their wedding anniversary and the holidays.  I decided tonight that I'm going to try really hard not to get overwhelmed by the cluster.  I'm going to try to remember to find those moments of being normal Peg (even if the other moms in our neighborhood think I'm a nutcase).

I need to get back into the habit of writing here.  It's so good for my mental health.  I've been forming posts in my head.  Things like my new research on the girls and attachment issues, watching A and M's relationship development as siblings, problems with some other soccer moms, and building issues with CA.  I also need to get back to journaling about our everyday--homecoming asks, baseball fun, and life with a hilarious 8 year old.

Thanks for bearing with me. I don't want to lose the real me.  I don't want to look back on my life and only remember work crap, driving and cooking.  I am more than that.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Some Things Just Don't Go Away

We were on our way to L's soccer practice yesterday when traffic came to a stop on the two lane road which leads to the field.  It's a pretty windy road and in parts there aren't actually any center lines. This is a horse farm area and the initial intention of the road wasn't meant for tons of soccer moms dropping their kids off at our club's soccer facility, or what has become a cut through for a bordering neighborhood to avoid a major congestion area.

First, my neighbor friend called and let me know that the road was blocked.  She said she wasn't sure what was going on but saw two ambulances so we assumed it was an accident.  She also noted that she saw a little girl crying on the side of the road.

A little girl.  I knew my sister was probably just ahead of me bringing my niece to practice.  My thoughts immediately jumped to "maybe it was them."  I quickly called her.  She answered and let me know that she was already turned around and was working on a detour to get to the field.  I explained why I called.  She totally understand why I went there in my mind.

Our car finally got to the part where the police had blocked the road with cones and we were able to turn around.  I said a silent prayer of thanks that due to the nature of the road, and where they had stopped traffic, we didn't have a view of the accident.

40 minutes later, after we had navigated ourselves to the fields through back roads, my levels of anxiety has dissipated, and I pushed the possible accident to the back of my mind.

When I got home hours later after M's high school scrimmage, I mentioned to K what had happened and absentmindedly told him that L's coach wasn't there which made for a crazy night for the kids with other coaches filling in.  K immediately said, "Maybe it was coach C in the accident? Why else would he not be at practice?"  I didn't want it to be true despite his logic.  "Somebody would have known if it was him. Maybe he had something else going on. Maybe it wasn't an accident on the road at all but was something at one of the farms."  I didn't want it to be true and convinced myself it wasn't. L loves his coach and we really like him too.  His Scottish sense of humor, combined with his patience with the boys has been great.  He and I have become friends over the last couple years and as a person I really like him.
This morning the email came telling us Coach C was in the accident.  A woman going in the opposite direction wasn't paying attention and was speeding and smashed directly into his car on the driver's side.

Thank goodness he is okay.  Bruised, cut up, burned from the side air bag, and a bad headache.  No broken bones or internal injuries and the CT scan was clear for any brain injury.

I immediately thought of how I was going to tell the kids, especially L.  When he and D got home from school, I first told him that everything was ok and Coach C was fine but that he was in the car accident from the day before and wouldn't be there tonight.  The initial look on his face was fear.  Raw fear.  Then he repeated, "But he's okay...can we not talk about it?"  D repeated the same assurances and went up to his room where I found him a few minutes later on his bed rubbing the satin portion of Louis (his lovey) which is something he does when he's nervous.  I asked him if everything was ok and said, "Fine, leave me alone."

When I told A he wanted to see the pictures.  He wanted details. He said, "Wow mom, he's lucky...and we know that sometimes you don't get lucky."  Yeah, buddy we know all about that.

M started talking a mile a minute wanting to know what happened.  I kept it simple saying he was okay and like L she repeated me several times and then changed the subject.  I thought about how rough driver's ed is going to be for her this year.

Here's the thing.  I am slowly learning to accept that Jeanne and Mike aren't coming back.  And while I don't go to the same  panic/anxiety levels when I think about the accident the multiple times a day like I used to (thanks to some good therapy work), car accidents are still a major trigger for me and our entire family.  All the kids have been a bit off tonight.  L struggled through practice and was almost in tears declaring "I was awful tonight!!!" I knew why those tears were really building and in hindsight I should have just kept him home.

My day has been peppered with thoughts of their accident.  How did it happen?  Why didn't Mike  keep control of the car? How did the other driver lose control?  Was she texting?  Did they know what was happening?  Why? Why? Why?

It's been almost 6 years.  We may all be getting closer to acceptance, but really, some things just don't go away.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


All five are back to school.  I can't believe how big and old they all are (sniff, sniff).

E in her new apartment.

L in 3rd grade and D in 8th.

Our sophmores A and M.
New schedules.
New friends.
New classes and challenges.
I think everyone is ready for some "new."
I know I am.

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Song lyrics mean a lot to me.  When I was in high school and college I was a big doodler (I still am actually).  When I was really bored in class, I would fill notebook pages of song lyric excerpts.  Sometimes I'd have a theme.  In college, they tended to be romantic in nature and in my heart I was writing these little messages to K. Since the accident, song lyrics have often been the catalyst for a good session of grief tears. Words are important to me.  I've always been an avid reader and drawn to those books that have an author who takes care over their words.  The kind where I'll re-read a section or paragraph to savor each sentence.

I also like to talk to people. I'm not sure if I'm a total extrovert, because I do need my alone time during the day, but I like to chat with the checkout guys at Target or ask another parent on the sideline how their kids are doing.  I like to share my thoughts with good friends and get the good feelings from telling a funny story and getting another person's laughter.

Words. Sharing. Connecting.


I guess that's part of why I've been struggling so much lately.  I don't feel like sharing as much.  I'm not really talking to the person/people that I really need to be sharing with.  Issues with CA, my other sisters, parents and in-laws have stayed bottled up inside. Logistics, benign pleasantries, FB posts, etc.  are what I'm mustering.  I'm okay mostly when I'm in mom mode.  I've been working hard to be normal mom/Aunt Peg for the kids.

Mostly not having the guts to tell K exactly how I'm feeling.  Worried how he'll react or what he'll say?  Worried how I'll deliver the words?  Sometimes just not having the energy to muster up the courage to confess how lost I feel.


This afternoon, I was driving back from dropping A off at school to catch the bus for cross country and one of my favorite Vance Joy songs came on, Best That I Can.

I'm sick of leaving things half done
things half said
I am, I am trying
the best that I can
I am, I am trying

I suddenly thought of myself scribbling these words out in a notebook.  As I sang them, I thought of all my responsibilities and how overwhelming it has become knowing all I have to do and can't get done.  I'm tired of falling asleep quietly next to someone wanting to talk and connect and instead rolling over and willing sleep to come.  Or waking up in the morning with awful feelings of anxiety and instead of telling him how I feel, I silently crawl out of bed and begrudgingly start the day.


My words to my husband that I'm not saying...

I love you.

I need you to be a teammate in all this not just another person I have to manage.

I am drowning in the day to day demands of work and kids.

I need to you to love me and sometimes put me first. 

I need romance and need to feel wanted.

I am trying the best that I can.

I am, I am trying.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

End of Summer

This is our last week of summer vacation.  We moved E into her apartment last weekend.  The kids are definitely relishing in the last few days of freedom.  Still procrastinating a bit on summer work (although overall in much better shape than last year).  Sleeping in and staying up a bit later.  Practices are ramping up with A starting cross country, M doing both varsity soccer and playing for her club team, and both D and L on their respective travel soccer teams...oh yeah and L plays baseball but has only been to a few clinics.

As a family, I think we've had a good summer.  The kids had a good balance of free time, day trips and one pretty awesome family trip (I am so missing AZ).  We've had lots of laughs.  Time with family on both sides including cousin trips to the pool, sleepovers, an epic lip sync battle, and women's world cup victories to celebrate. 

E being home was mostly good.  She and M fight a lot still and her early morning swimming makes her grumpy and irritable.  Fortunately, she stopped the morning practices for the last several weeks and that helped tons.  Better sleep is always good for her mood and it effects everyone in the house.

Sedona was the highlight of my summer.  The rest of the summer has been punctuated by what I can only describe as feelings of stress, disconnection and being lost.  I'm struggling to focus at work.  I'm trying to keep things going with the kids and the household.  Hopeless isn't exactly the right word, but I wonder sometimes how much longer I can keep up with all that I'm responsible for and not be buried by it.  On most days, staying positive and remembering to be grateful is just too much effort. 

I'm hoping the new school year will bring back some structure to my days.  I'm hoping this brings me more peace and energy.  At minimum, I'll have some more hours during the day of time to myself.

A few glimpses at this summer...

The summer started with a cousin baseball championship.

A snake at a skate park is heaven for A.

Nobody makes M laugh like Uncle K.

D won a big soccer tourney on father's day.

The WWC games were a highlight of the summer.

A won lots of free stuff this summer skateboarding.

D loves to herp just like his big brother.

Best friends.

Working together on a rainy summer day.

E and A remain close and get along so well.

Our boys at the trailhead.

L swimming at our pool with the little sisters/cousins.

Me and M.

Little L got his skate on lots this summer too.