Mere Mortals

When I was about 8 months pregnant with Isaac my dad called me to see how I was doing. He said I sounded tired. I was.

(see: 8 months pregnant)

My father said something that has been replaying over in my mind for two days.

“You do know you only get 24-hours a day, right?”

My father was not being condescending. He was poking fun at what he knows to be true about me.

I do not know that I only get 24-hours in a day. Scientifically, I know that certain standards of time exist that are factual and consistent.

  • 60 seconds in a minute
  • 60 minutes in an hour
  • 24 hours in a day
  • 7 days in a week
  • 52 weeks in a year
  • 365 days in a year

Just ask the cast members of Rent.

They’ve got the amount of time in a year down to the minute.

I get it but I am special.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have three children. One of whom just dropped a bag of shredded cheese on my lap so that I could open it for a snack. Not happening.

“Chips and pretzels are on the counter. If you want something, have that.”

I have a husband who took me on an adventure last night that included a brewery, a casino and a late night steak smothered in cheese and onions. It was a good time.

To recover, I slept in and then we traded. He is now in bed and deservedly so.

I belong to a roller derby team of amazing athletes that challenge me daily. They are also some of the  best friends I have ever had. Which is nice, except six hours of every week is dedicated to practicing the sport, another six hours is dedicated to bouting and that doesn’t include travel time if necessary. Add to that the time we spend laughing, drinking, dancing, going to events, volunteering and just generally being awesome and it gets a bit crazy. Ask them. They will tell you.

“Roller Derby takes over your life.”

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Sweet RV and Me.
She’s really only sweet off the track. #SmallbutMighty

School starts up again in two weeks. I am trying to decide what class to take while I study up for my re-take of the math assessment exam. Spanish II, Film as Art or Technical Writing which sounds as boring as can be but might help me professionally. In two weeks, my life will become a practice in keeping to the schedule. Skipping my study time, being late, sleeping in or going out could blow my grade for the semester. No pressure.

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Isaac fell asleep on the back of my chair watching me finish my homework.

In all of this, I am still trying to write my story. An emotionally draining, mind-boggling memoir that steals time in heaps. It heals me and hurts me at the same time. It’s kind of like physical therapy for The Walking Wounded. I am asking tons of questions and the answers are coming back like boomerangs.

In the end, I am left with just 24-hours in a day. I need more than that and sometimes I really believe that I can bend time to my will. It frustrates me beyond words when I realize that I cannot actually bent time. When I step back and see that I have no special powers and the clock ticks on whether I like it or not, I get anxious.

I get anxiety over something that I never controlled in the first place. I get flustered, messy and half-assed. I forget things places, show up late or on the wrong day, eat like crap and dream when I try to sleep.

I am a hot fire mess. They don’t call me Firecracker for nothin’.

During this holiday season, I have had some time off. I have locked myself away. I have gone out less, chased simple goals like – well, eat, sleep and enjoy.

It has been a peaceful time. As things head back towards pandemonium, I worry. I count and the hours are not adding up. They never do and yet, somehow I still manage to keep up.

Do you see the problem? Do you see why I am so delusional?

Because I manage. I am not so different from so many mothers.

We take out that rolling-pin, stapler, scotch tape and we will those ends to meet. We stretch like elastic around our families and we plug holes with our toes. We make hours out of minutes and days out of hours.

I am special. I am a mother and that brings with it certain miracle-making, magical powers.

And when I get tired. When it gets to be too much and I get frustrated or annoyed with the clock, I will settle into the time that the rest of the world shares. I will work within reality for a little while. I will slow down for a lunch break with mere mortals.

“You do know you only get 24-hours in a day, right?”

Miracles are not meant to be performed every 24-hours.

They’d lose their magic.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Passing time,

Tashmica

PS – To watch this glorious train wreck, LIKE The Mother Flippin’ Facebook Page.

Old School: The College of Mommy Guilt

It has been 11 days since I last posted here.

Maybe you hadn’t noticed.  It has been a crazy week for so many.

It felt like forever for me.

It’s not that I wasn’t writing.  I write constantly.

My job requires well crafted emails, letters, posts, tweets, reports and occasionally the nicely drafted handwritten card.

Add to all of this, school work.

That is right, ladies and gentlemen.  I have just completed my first week of college after a nine-year break.

Have you met my nine-year old son, Isaiah?

I am taking a creative writing course.  I foresee that school commitments will affect my family, derby career and my social life.  Those decisions are already starting to chafe.

This is precisely why I get so irritated when I see advertisements or articles offering women a strategy to having it all.

Here is a strategy you can count on.

If you want it all, you must want very little.

If you are willing to make sacrifices, you can commit your life to deep loves but not much else.

Take it from me.  I am a expert on the topic. :)

I am already a bit tired and hyper vigilant when it comes to my calendar.  Thanks to a coworker, I have my profesh and personal calendars all synced.  I have never been a calendar girl.  No pun intended.

I now live and breathe by Google reminders.

What about my boys?

They start Karate next week.  Two times a week they will learn their hi-yas and ker-chops.  They are both in school and need help with homework.  I have a nightly study partner in Isaiah, who needs as much practice spelling as I do in mathematics.  We are riding the routine struggle bus as we adjust to stupid early mornings and regular friggin’ bedtimes.

I am still waiting for the world to recognize the value of a slow start of 11am.

Vito is confidently sauntering into daycare waving to the drooling toddlers and teachers alike.  He has no fear.  I am not completely comfortable with him having such an independent life.  He is the first of my children to attend daycare.  It is only part-time. Why do I feel like a part-time parent?

My husband is getting emails from me regarding where he can pick up the photo I had printed for Isaiah’s class.  I invited him to view my calendar so that we can also sync.  We are thinking about having a weekly morning coffee date to discuss…whatever the hell we want to when we are not running around like a team of two people out numbered by three children.

Paul has even changed his schedule so that he can be there to pick up our boys at school and help out on days when I work from home.

This week has left my family a cranky, whiny, exhausted mess.

Why, in the name of all things educated, did I need to make things so complicated with my career, my continued education, my roller derby and my friends.

There it is.  There is the millstone around my neck.

Mommy guilt.

The internal belief that I, as the best mother in the world, am responsible for fixing, making right, soothing and coaxing the Pleasantville life I used to see on T.V. for my family.  If my children throw temper tantrums, it must be as a result of my lack of parental focus.  If my husband, can’t find the ketchup, well darn it if I forgot to organize the pantry.  If my mother-in-law shops for our school supplies, it is because I am too busy after partying with the Vixens.

Well that part might be true. :)

Do you know what I remember about the time my mother put herself through college and graduated with a degree after my father died?  I don’t recall substandard meals, missed appointments or her general disorganization.  I can’t remember one spinning plate crashing to the ground even though, I am sure it must have happened.

I boast about the kind of woman who raised me while pursuing that degree.  I am proud.

I have a feeling that in the next 16 weeks and perhaps for the several semesters that follow, I will need to remind myself that I do not have to manage it all to be successful.  I need to remember that my children benefit from my role modeling and the lifestyle I provide for them.  I need to be reminded that their behavior is the result of years of loving discipline and not a few hours I spend away after bedtime.  I may need to be reminded that my children volunteer, do yoga, attend bouts, ride motorcycles and know many trusted and loving adults that are the village I have chosen.

Most importantly, I need to push my monster mommy ego out of my own way.  My family’s life does not need to revolve around me.  I am not at the center of the universe nor am I controlling its balance.  We are a family.  Just like I sacrifice so that I can afford Karate classes my children will more than likely quit before the Olympics, they will sacrifice by reading quietly so mommy can study sometimes.

This week has been difficult.  Sacrifice is difficult.  Seeing those ends you hold together come apart is a humbling experience.  Recognizing that your lifestyle of love, peace and grace has made it possible to stretch those ends through loved ones is humbling.

We can all consider this the first lesson of the semester.

I wonder if my children will ever cease being my greatest teachers. 

Enjoy your weekend,

Tashmica

 

 

Liar, Liar.

A few days after Columnist Mark Mayes from the Lansing State Journal ran Lilly’s story, he forwarded me an email that made my heart drop into my stomach.

It was a forwarded email from Nick Johnson, Principal of Holt High School 9th Grade Campus to (according to the sender) the entire staff.

Allow me to summarize.

The email stated that my blog posting, Bullies Are Stupid & I Love the Way You Walk was with a few exceptions, basically false.

I felt terrible.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t go around telling stories on people.  I think other than the Penn State thing, this is the first time I have ever written about some entity or group of people in particular.  I deal with problems that arise face to face.

I read and reread his version of the incidents.  The words inaccuracies and omissions stood out time and again.  The heat drained from my face slowly.  I read it again.  I called Ginny and asked a few questions. I read through a very clear timeline of events and how they were allegedly handled correctly by the Principal and a few staff members.

I started to feel a little better.

Why?

I mean, if the email I was forwarded did indeed come from Nick Johnson than I could go through and pick it apart.  I could restate Ginnie’s story and what Lilly’s experience was.  I could but I won’t.

It is simple.  It boils down to one question that we will be bringing to the meeting with us.

Why after nearly nine months of Ginnie seeking answers and policy changes on her daughter’s behalf, is the entire staff of Holt High School’s 9th Grade Campus more entitled to a full explanation of the situation than Ginnie herself?

There were many, many opportunities to explain and find solutions during the school year.   Why now?

Convenience?  Ineptitude? Forgetfulness?

Why is the story suddenly so clear and so well recorded?  How is it that suddenly there are way more adult staff members involved in the report than ever before?

This is what we intend to find out this Tuesday, August 7th at 5pm in the Administration Building of the Holt High School 9th Grade Campus. We hope to see you there.

Click here to RSVP.

I promise, that if I find anything I wrote in this blog to be untrue, I will update you accordingly.  This is not about one principal that gave my sister in law the stink eye once.  This is about the policies of one school as it relates to bullying.  This is about all of you who left comments about your own personal stories and concerns.

Whether you are a parent, student, staff member or concerned community member, you have a voice in this too.  We may have gotten Lilly’s story some attention but you are just as important.

On a happy note, Lilly celebrates her 15th birthday tomorrow.  Happy birthday, darling!

Sincerely,

Aunt Tasha

Love Letters

I leave in 6 days.

I will cross an entire ocean in a plane.  I will visit two continents before I come home.  My children will not be in either of them.

So, yes.

I am experiencing a bit of anxiety.  In fact, more than I thought.

My husband will cook for them.  He will prepare healthy meals.  Some of those meals will even include organic produce.  Their laundry will be washed and folded by him or Bobby and Adrienne (our part-time nannies).

They will receive handwritten notes from me, published blog posts and a visit from a few of my friends.  I will call them from a very remote area.

*deep breath*

Many of my friends say that they will be fine and I agree.  They will be fine.

I am the one who is a basket case.

Do you know what I have been telling myself?  Do you know the Xanax to my maternal panic attacks?

2.4 million orphans in the country of Uganda due to HIV/AIDS.  So many mothers and fathers gone.

I have the gift and the opportunity to leave love notes. I imagine, that so many would have loved to have been able to plan better for their deaths.  No parent hopes for a death that will impoverish their entire family and leave children hungry.  We hope with bated breath that our babies will live long, full and successful existences.  We hope that we will die first after preparing them for life.

When life smashes the glass, we do our best to deal with the circumstances we have been dealt. Dealing can leave so much to be desired, even when parents are at their very best.

I keep thinking that I am a love letter.

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And who wouldn't love this face?

I keep thinking that if my children were left with no one, I would want a loving stranger to step in.  I would want an organization like Nyaka to work hard to serve them.  I would want teachers to be thought of as family.  I would want donors to see value in lives that have no connection to their own.

The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project is a love letter.

It is lives smashed like glass and dealing at its very best.  It is wear empty meets full.

I hate leaving my own children.  I question getting a job regularly.  Even this job.  I wonder if it is worth it.  If the little bit I do on a daily basis is enough for the school presentations I miss or the spring break I won’t be a part of this year.

Then I think about how I tell my children…

I loved you before I knew you.

I think about all of the notes on their bathroom mirrors, secretly tucked in uniform pants pockets and written on windows.

I am a blessed woman and I will take a different kind of love note with me this time.

Spill Over

I always start my mornings with a child’s face in mine. Sloppy morning kisses, crying baby and obstinate sleepy children begging for more time in the sack. My husband and I corral them and send them on the path for a timely school appearance. My youngest is usually the last to awake.

“Good morning, Pickle”

I scoop him up and pull him in close to find that his diaper has leaked and I am now snoozling (our family word for cuddling) a steaming pile of crap. I am wet and stinky. Regardless, I now have to carefully change a very uncomfortable, discontent child before I can clean myself.

He, as is typical for a one year old, is transformed as I clean him up. He goes from crying to cooing and laughing before my eyes. I however, am not so easily changed. I am irritable and did I mention, stinky. I head back to my closet of so many desirable second hand choices and select the cleanest, most presentable and mildly fashionable option available.

Now the gauntlet of motherhood begins again. I am making breakfast, ordering up a packed lunch, chugging coffee and remembering the responsibilities of others as I go*. School drop off, childcare drop off, office detritus pick up and off to the office. The office is where I begin to shove a full time job into fifteen hours and many more while trying to be a good mother and wife at home. Self-employment can be a bear.

I strain myself not to let all of the responsibilities that take my breath away affect the way I treat my children. I want their lives to be about building character and getting an education. Sometimes, those lessons become speed bumps on the way to my ultimate goal of being able to handle it all. Unfortunately, every once in a while, a child gets run over.

This is the spill over. This is the plate that your mother and wife has packed so full that there are now side dishes laying on the surface of the table. This is not a cup filled with peace and grace. It is a plate of Oliver Twists’ gruel and I can’t stop asking for more.

Every year I learn that although my life demands that I keep a fast pace I choose to compete at NASCAR speeds. I feel an obligation to participate. In the quiet times, I know that my compulsion is about my own vanity. I want everyone to know that I am capable and good. Do I know it? Can I be satisfied with knowing my limitations and accepting them?

Decisions need to be made and a new pace needs to be set. I know it. Sadly, I always know it after I have already begun to under achieve. You have to admit it’s bad when your husband says, “You are a better mother than that.” Thanks honey. It’s time to clean my plate.
*My husband helps with the morning routine because I am spoiled and he knows that if I have to leave without my hair and make-up done there will be consequences. Dire consequences. :)