My Daily Present

Real Talk

Enough

Hey mama,

You look worried. Is it the news? Politics? Finances? Lack of sleep? Toddlers? Kids? Teenagers? Your hips? Your belly? Your face? Sex? Marriage? Your job? Your choices? You?

You’re not alone.

I worry, too. I’m uncertain, too. I’m feeling risky and wrong, too. I’m feeling shaky and tired, too. I have days when I think, “How am I supposed to keep doing this like this.” I bump into perfectly coiffed people living aesthetically-pleasing lives, and I feel floppy, gross or poorly groomed. I am yelling on the playground next to a woman who is sure and comforting and in control, and I feel crabby, guilty and ashamed. I want to make the right choices and do the right things, but those things aren’t finite, even if the internet and your grandmother tell you they are.

There’s something happening on the internet and, while it isn’t new behavior, it is a new venue, and it’s tearing us down, mamas. Everyone is an authority on the best way to do our work, and this is coming from women and from men. There are entire websites devoted to instructing you and me on how to do our work, and while they all conflict on their message and strategy, they’re still read and they’re still validated. We aren’t victims, but we are being fed information as if we were. We must be very vigilant about the words we read and the stories we choose to believe, or we will find ourselves undermined and helpless. Powerless. Ashamed. All feelings that women have felt and suffered through for centuries, but now perhaps at our own hands. By our own choice.

Listen to me. No one knows how to do your work. Your work is yours, and you were born and built and made to do it in a way that no other person on earth is. Because your works is yours only, it doesn’t apply to anyone else. What has worked for you may not work for her. What has worked for her might not work for you. You are doing your work, I am doing mine, she is doing hers. You decide your success. You decide your worth. You decide.

People will carry on about the beauty and the miracle of their perfect and right choices, and oftentimes, they will be self-righteous more than they are right. Remember that sometimes when we are shaky, we hold on TOO TIGHT to our view of things to protect ourselves and assure ourselves that we are safer or more secure than we actually are.

Women, my brave, beautiful, bold women, we walk a tightrope in our culture. We must be just enough of everything, or we risk being not enough or too much of something. We’re almost destined for insecurity and disconnect from our truest selves. In our tender efforts to try to save ourselves from this cycle, we might retreat and feel shame, or we might cover ourselves in fancy things and arrogant assumptions, but we’re doing the same thing: We’re trying to figure out how to breathe. Be okay. Be enough. Stand tall. Sit down. Lie back. Feel things. Be able.

I worry, too. But, when I worry, I make myself stop. Some days, it takes me days to do this, but I am so stubborn and dead set on not giving into the cycle, that I do stop, eventually. And when I do, it’s right there-right in front of me. I DECIDE. No one else. I AM ENOUGH. Right here, right now.

Just like this. Just like that.

Unkempt, tired and unsure, but ENOUGH.

Be vigilant with me. Stay so close to the ground these days, and choose YOURSELF as your authority before and above and beyond anyone else. After all, mama, this is your work. These fears are your teachers. This body is your gift. This work is YOUR LIFE. And, you decide.

Unsubscribe, unplug and close those angry tabs. You have the answer. You are the person. So am I.

Let’s do this.

xo,

M

Growing Up is Hard to Do

My son turns 4 next month. While he is still small, he seems sort of gigantic to me lately, and these 4 years are a blur. My pregnant and postpartum days are behind me, and it seems like all of a sudden that I’m no longer surrounded by toothless grins and pureed peas and babies slung onto my hip.

Those babies grew teeth and learned to eat their peas whole and now are too big to sit comfortably on my hips. Those days were exhausting and always new (I didn’t know whether I was up or down half the time), and I worked all the time, but without pay or much recognition. Caring for babies can seem like invisible work unless you’re the one doing it (or, perhaps, the one who has done it). But the urgency and the tenderness of the work is energizing in a way that always gave me strength when I most needed it.

Nowadays, I’m spending a lot of time realizing how futile my initial worries as a new mom really were. Breast or bottle? My babies did both, but mainly, they were fed. Cry it out or attachment parenting? Again, I did a bit of both, and eventually, they slept and not one of them better than the other. There’s nothing like having two children to make it glaringly obvious that tools, tips and techniques are only useful in good luck, and that what matters most is the simple act of giving love. Over and over, again and again.

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As I age, and my babies age, I am learning that the only way to give my children the love, empathy and support they need is to first give it to myself. And, this requires a kind of shift that I’d say is pretty difficult to make when you have tiny babies, but not as difficult to make once they’ve grown into mouthy, small children (albeit, CUTE and mouthy small children). Still, it takes real, conscious effort to learn to take the oxygen mask first, again. I still struggle, in my body, to believe that could possibly be the right thing to do. Some kind of person was born along with both of my babies, and that person is me, their mother. Getting to know this new person is no small feat, and I find it even harder to crack her code since she so often turns to her children and seems to identify, primarily, with them.

But, my babies are no longer babies, and their changing needs are changing me. Some days, accepting that I have to put effort, space, time, air and breath back into myself and back into my body in order to give to them feels like a strange punishment, an alien request, an inconvenient truth. The world is rough, and for a while it was made less so because I looked only at those two tiny bodies.
I want to teach them patience, so I must learn it. I want to teach them faith, so I must practice it. I want to teach them compassion, empathy and generosity, so I must discover how worthy of those things I am, myself. When my child cries, I can no longer pick him up to make it stop. I have to teach him to find courage and be vulnerable and feel his feelings-all things I still continue to learn. It’s all new work these days, and the thing is, the work is really all in me.

It’s strange and spiritual and simple how giving birth isn’t just about bringing a baby into the world. Raising children isn’t just about keeping growing bodies out of harm and learning right from wrong. Each year that my child grows, so do I, and this is as terrifying as it is wonderful.

All ye mamas on the brink of having babies, or watching your babies become toddlers and then children, I send you my sweetest, most tender hugs. The road forward is a heartbreaking, soul saving and life-affirming journey into yourself. I’m there, at least that much I know.

xo (here we go),
M

You Matter to Me

Guys,

This weekend, I’m taking a big, heartfelt break from social media/the internet to look my children in their eyes, wrap my arms around my husband and extend kindness and generosity to every human I come into contact with (y’all really need to try to bump into me this weekend). Anyway, I am doing this because I feel just BROKEN by this week. I promise I’m not turning away from the suffering, but I need to grieve and get real and put my feet on the ground and do some old fashioned human connecting.

Today, I rode home from my PT appointment and I rolled right up next to a car with their windows down pumping loud bass that vibrated into my car and into my legs. I looked over at the driver, a black man, and he looked over at me, and we smiled at each other. It wasn’t a big, loving smile, it was more like we accidentally met eyes for just a moment, so we did the instinctive thing. We acknowledged one another. We were kind. We behaved with respect.

We can all do that for each other. Especially right now, because so many are hurt and ANGRY. We know that so much is broken, but here’s something that is NOT: HUMANS. Humans are not broken. We’re confused. We’re scared. We’re hurt. We’re grieving. We’re victimized. We’re traumatized. We’re angry. We’re bitter. We’re fed up. We’re hopeless. We’re helpless. We’re powerless. We’ve got work to do. We can do it. We are not broken.

I want you to know that I have made a personal commitment to stand for black lives because I KNOW that I will never be free when my brothers and sisters are oppressed. I KNOW that my privilege gives me power and I can do something useful with that. I can be willing to talk about things that are uncomfortable. I can listen and hear things that are painful to hear. I can WITNESS the suffering of my black friends. I can witness the suffering of lost lives. I am stronger when I am standing than I am when I am sitting down. Everything I want to change ALWAYS starts with me, and I can start there and I can DO SOMETHING.

So, I’m going to take a couple of days and be gentle and brave and close to myself and to other humans. I encourage you to put your hands on your people, these days. Give and receive love, and be tender and kind and willing. Be held, and hold on. It’s your heart that is broken, not your spirit, not your body and not YOU.

I love you. Your life matters to me.

xo,

M

Trust Your Stuff

I’ve been thinking lately about “circumstances,” and how easy it is to be completely brainwashed by “the way things are going” from day to day or week to week or month to month (and so on and so forth). When things are working out for us, it’s no work at all to assume security, safety and confidence. But, when systems jam. And body parts do funky things. And our plans fall through. And we have to make choices, anyway. Shit gets scary.

Over the last few years, I have really been living into some unplanned circumstances and this has been big work for a control freak (there, I said it) like me (I mean). I like plans. Strategies. Putting all the correct pieces into the correct places.

I have had A LOT of work to do in learning TRUST on the deepest, gnarliest levels. I’m not knocking myself (and if you can relate, I’m not knocking you either), but I was getting in my own way for a LONG time because I really believed that in order to be strong, I could not be weak. In order to be good, I could not be wrong. In order to TRUST life, life needed to be kind and gentle. Maybe I would have gone on like this forever, guys. I could have kept on carving out my circumstances and rounding out all of the edges and just demanding peace and harmony, only.

Except, CHILDREN. And, MARRIAGE.

God, these people teach me so much, and I’ll never be able to thank them properly or allow them to adequately see the inside of my head and my heart and how dramatically things have just SHIFTED because THEY HAD TO.

Some people say God only gives you what you can handle, and if I reworked that, I’d say: TRUST YOUR STUFF.

When it feels too messy and too ugly and too painful. TRUST. When it looks too hairy and too big and too much. TRUST. When it hurts so hard and breaks so bad and feels like no way. TRUST. You’ll probably have to do other things later, and you will need more help and more support and more resources, believe me. But, take it from me, if you can start with TRUST. If you can put down that shit you are carrying with all of your might and just GIVE IT UP FOR A MINUTE. I’m not going to spoil it for you, but here’s a hint:

Relief.

Real life is so incredibly vulnerable. Raising kids is so incredibly vulnerable. Sharing a WHOLE LIFE with another person is so incredibly vulnerable. Writing about it on Facebook is incredibly vulnerable (well, I might as well mention it).

But, I am learning to TRUST my people. And more than that, THEY TRUST ME. And I just CANNOT do this any other way than THE TRUTH.

Trust your stuff. I’m doing it, too. It’s not organized, and just when you think you’ve got a clear picture, things’ll tilt on you again. But there’s magic in this devoted and floppy kind of moving forward. It’s less about getting it right and more about just getting it.

xo,

~M

You’re Doing Your Work and You’re Enough

My favorite thing about being a parent is the hardest thing about being a parent: it doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

I love the way I grow by having to show up and be courageous for my family, even when life is handing me personal challenges. But that shit is hard.

Becoming a parent doesn’t make you immune to life’s ups and downs. It doesn’t prevent you from growing ill or getting hurt or losing or being left. It doesn’t stop unfortunate cases of bad luck, timing or genetics from nailing you. You don’t become a parent and instantly land the gift of always comfortable circumstances.

Instead, life keeps happening and we keep getting to do it. And over time, it makes more sense to just choose to BE IN IT and TELL THE TRUTH, rather than run from it or pretend it is all unicorns and rainbow lollipops. Because who wants to lie when a tiny person is watching and learning?

Gang, I love it when you’re wearing your makeup and you are glowing and showing me photos of your healthy, organic meal or your shiny, family photographs. I also love you when you’re tired, your body aches and you feel stuck. I love you when you’re angry, when you’re lost and when you’re scared. I love you when you haven’t showered, you’ve only fed your children cheese and carb derivatives and you’re lonely.

You aren’t doing this work in some alternate reality where things only go your way. You are DOING THIS WORK. In a world filled with “growth opportunities,” with all kinds of uncomfortable, painful business in you and around you. But YOU ARE DOING YOUR WORK. And that’s enough.

Here’s a pic of me doing some of this life business with my favorite babies. I will make you a promise, and you can make it back if you want:

We don’t have to look good while we do this, and we don’t have to pretend it always feels good. We just have to keep showing up, being honest and doing the thing where we give love. When we’re great, when we’re okay, when we’re broken. Bam. The end.

Love you and mean it,

M

Privilege and Planned Parenthood: Blind Spots Abounding

Heads up, gang! This note may seem highly political, although I don’t know that I see it that way (women’s healthcare access should NEVER be about politics, in my mind and heart and body). Anywho, it might be offensive, it might make you mad, it might not make sense and you may feel like saying bad words to me. Anyway, if you oppose Planned Parenthood’s work, efforts, values and mission, then this post may just make you feel crazy. It may also be eye-opening, but just in case, if you think it’s going to turn you schizo, just skip it. It’s okay. Otherwise, here are MY strong feelings (and a few BASIC FACTS) about the recent vote to defund Planned Parenthood:

When I read about the House vote on Friday, I almost burst into tears. Everything about this vote and this crazy, ongoing witch hunt feels personal to me, because IT IS.

If you are a woman, then you know how important reproductive health is. Privileged women are instructed by their primary care physicians to begin having annual visits with an OB Gyn at the age of 18, and sooner if we become sexually active or have specific reproductive health issues. Women with medical insurance and transportation can sufficiently find a doctor we like who will support us in learning about self breast exams, birth control, STDs, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum issues, menopause, etc. As we age, we learn the nuances of our bodies, and if we’re socioeconomically gifted, we can find medical support to help us nurture, care for and protect these bodies.

But, if we aren’t privileged. If we do not have sufficient medical coverage, live in rural areas or simply haven’t had access to reproductive health education, then what? According to 241 members of our House of Representatives, WE OUGHT TO FIGURE THAT OUT ON OUR OWN.

There is no more glaring example of failing leadership than that of our ELECTED officials in Congress. Wealthy, mostly white and almost always privileged, they are not only disconnected from the needs of their impoverished, voiceless constituents, they are also entitled and self-serving. It’s heartbreaking to be a part of this conversation, because I feel that I belong equally to these underwhelming, ineffective leaders as much as I do to the victimized, marginalized women and families that they continue to ignore. WE ALL BELONG TO EACH OTHER. And yet, our leaders can’t see past their own privilege and ideology long enough to remember.

This isn’t about abortion. Women have always had abortions, and they always will. Wealthy women will always find and have a way to terminate an unwanted pregnancy and receive effective medical care. Women with fewer means and resources will not.

This is about money. This is about ignorance. This is about privilege. This is about race. This is about class. This is about fear.

This is not about God, but I can tell you that no God I know would want us leaving our under-served communities in the lurch, and placing heavier burdens on women and families in already desperate need.

Fight for Planned Parenthood. And if you won’t fight for Planned Parenthood, please fight to find a better solution. Fight to provide women with equal access to healthcare. BECAUSE WHY AREN’T WE DOING THAT, ALL OF US, ANYWAY? Donate. Or do something. Just don’t be silent.

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