Warrior Women and Motherhood

My grandfather’s second wife, Kathy, stayed in our life way longer than she had to.

My grandfather died and she just kept coming.

When my dad and his siblings all bottomed out before me and my cousins were even born, my Gram insisted they stay on track.

When they called from jail, rarely, if ever, did she bail them out.

And when my dad and his wife divorced because of drugs and alcohol and his wife took the kids and ran, she insisted then too.

Motherhood is about more than being biologically connected and literally maternal.

It’s voluntary closeness.

To me, it’s about warrior women who persist.

There are other mothers beyond the ones you see with children.

She could be the woman whose unknowingly guided you in roles you never saw a mother in at all.

The ones you thought really just couldn’t get “it” because they didn’t birth a child.

She could be the mother whose never had her own children but rose to the challenge of raising another woman’s.

Or my Gram – the woman who helped raised 4 children she didn’t birth at all – and whom today is burying her last.

That’s the woman warrior love of motherhood.

It’s not a one size fits all skill. Just like no mother has a one size fits all kind of love.

It’s any woman who persists in pursuit of a good life for children no matter whom they belong to, no matter what age they become.

It’s understanding that well after they are gone, a mother’s love lives and lingers on.

My grandfather’s second wife Kathy will always be in my life.

In fact, I’m sure and I hope that my Gram will outlive me, too.

Motherhood is not about where you came from, it’s about how you rise to the occassion.

To be a Daddy…

I try to imagine how it feels to be him.

Burying his daughter’s gerbil in the field- knowing her heart will be as broken as his.

He let us sleep through the night and get through our busy day before he even told us about the gerbil.

I try to imagine what it feels like to be the one to convince your kid to do brave things like ride on a boat.

How it feels to catch every spider and how it feels to tell his kid that we really should put every spider back outside, even when I personally suggested the death penalty.

To understand how he operates with tact.

I wonder how it feels to leave your family and head to work with logic and reason, when all you want to do is stay.

And how it feels to do that every day.

I wonder how it feels to take care of a woman and a girl whose growing into one.

I wonder how he holds it together – on the days I imagine we are both falling apart.

I wonder what my girl will learn from her dad and all the brave memos he unknowingly instills in us both.

I try to imagine what it’s like to be a daddy and how it feels to have to act rock solid – when sometimes life’s fleeting moments leave men just as hollow.

-Wallflower Writing

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To my little girl…

If I had all the cupcakes and treats in the word and you asked, I would give them all to you.

If I could give you all the answers in the world, I would.

If I could catch every spider and defeat every bad guy hitting main street, I would do that.

If I could get your father to stop annoying you on the regular, I would.

If I could give you dessert for dinner and double down dessert for seconds after that, I’d eat with you!

If I could make broccoli taste like chocolate covered candy–just call me “on board.”

If I could be your unlimited ‘yes man’, I’d be that for you every single day.

If I could ponies fly, I’d take you to the moon.

If I could go down in a battle royale with the boogies under your bed, you bet I would go down in a blaze of glory.

If I could let you wear your pants on your head in public without judgemental glares, I would let you.

If I could let you lick the juice up off the table instead of cleaning it myself, for the 12th time today – I would.

If I could send you to Grammys, 365 days a year, I totally would.

But my little firecracker, I cannot.

So please stop asking me.😂

Overqualified.

I’m a stay at home mom who didn’t get the job.

I imagined a steak with a double side of crispy crowns for dinner when I did.

I imagined my husband coming home from work with flowers. I imagined him saying- “Congratulations baby, you did it!”

I imagined paying off my student loans instead of paying expanding interest on the principal.

I imagined having access to health insurance and a 401k to match my skill set.

I imagined paying a mortgage on my own home – not rent on someone else’s.

I imagined stability for my kids after retreating from the workforce for four years, on one slim income to raise them.

I imagined more for my family by now, imagined my kid watching me soar.

I imagined social blooming for me, life-long friends for my kid.

A normal schedule, sunlight at the end of a very dark and trying tunnel.

I imagined being among the living again, crawling out of the cave called stay at home motherhood.

I imagined adult interactions and a brand new enthusiasm for human contact.

I imagined all the situations, education, and time leading up to this moment and how they all led to this one.

Full time mom and powerhouse, I imagined.

A first interview, a second, a third with a facility tour! It felt like it was finally in my reach.

But I couldn’t have it all.
“I’m calling with bad news.” they said.

I imagined being defined by my career – then just as quickly – I imagined being defined by a lack of one.

I imagined a complicated and lonely truth about stay at home motherhood that I hadn’t been told before.

I imagined the feeling of being 10 years old and being told that a career woman and motherhood would be mutually exclusive.

I imagined a world where going to work was a luxury for women, and staying at home was a full time, paying job.

I imagined that if, comprehensively, all the things I mastered as a stay at home mom could be listed as experience – I’d be overqualified.

“It was a difficult decision.” they said.
I imagined that it was.

A Memorial: Kim Walter

Kimmy McMahon Walter surely was no saint, but if you were lucky to be loved by her, it oftentimes felt like you were loved by one. Her sass matched her experience and she always let you know what she was thinking. She was blunt and honest no matter what you threw her way. And throughout her short life, quite a bit was thrown her way.

As time went on Kimmy morphed into someone who was humbled – not hardened – by life’s untraditional challenges. She was positively changed by time. In the end of her life she became closer to people she loved. She reached out more. She asked for help. She recognized the totality of life.

She became comprehensively “Real”.

I couldn’t say it better than the  classical story of the Velveteen Rabit by Margery Williams and I can’t think of a more perfect person to represent its profound story than Kimmy McMahon Walter:

“Real isn’t how you are made” said the Skin Horse to the rabbit.

“It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it Hurt?” asked the rabit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse.

“When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once,” he asked…. or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse.

“You become.” He said.

“That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Kim was very Real. Because she was very well loved and not easily kept. Her absence will make us all become a little more Real, too.

We as people who love her can never be hopeless in loss, because we can not be irreparably broken. We become what we are becoming. We only become more Real by loving and living. Just like Kimmy.

Today we say see you later to the wild spirit who lives on inside the hearts of her children and the people who love her. Today with these life lessons and throughout the ebbs and flows of this grief- we will all become just a little more Real.

Curly Hair, Don’t Care!

People with curly hair live by different standards. Having curly hair comes with more than just super consistent upkeep and products; it comes with a certain shame. It comes with prep, planning, and praying the weather doesn’t go rogue. It comes with feeling like you’re not beautiful because you were born with hair that cannot adhere to social norms and trends.

Many of us were not taught how to use or how to love our curly hair, but rather to hide it. We straighten it, we tame it, we try to do everything we can aside from embracing it. Now that I am a mother, I think differently about the concept of “beauty” and how I want my daughter and future women of the world to respond to what that even means. I want girls (and women) to know it’s okay to embrace their curls.

We all see the videos of the cute dad and the vacuum cleaner making the perfect ponytail for his daughter on the first day of school. But have we ever seen that same scene shot with a curly kid?

Getting Back to “My Roots”

My daughter is not a curly girl, so it never crossed my mind to make extra effort when embracing mine. One day, at a playdate, I met a perky little girl whose hair spiraled perfectly. Her mom, a brunette wavy haired woman, proudly mentioned that she was helping her child learn how to train her curls and how to love them. Research lent her methods, patience lent her success.

I remember trying to think back to a time when I embraced my curls. There was a *very* hot moment in college, but that was it. The thoughts continued: What if I had a curly girl or boy? What if my daughter has a curly friend? What if ever there was a curly girl who never ever saw a curly mom, because curly moms were too unwilling to literally let their hair down? And worst of all…what if my willingness to throw it in a messy bun all those times, created an inevitable unwillingness for a curly girl to embrace who she is?

Goodbye Tamed Shame!

When sending curly girls and boys out into the world it’s imperative we do so with support and resources. On my quest to return to my roots, to be an example and begin to love my curls, I learned many tips, tricks, and methods. With these three tips, we can try to work together to encourage girls (and women) to be confident and fully cultivate their curls.

1. Encourage experimentation and be a role model. Give them tools to experiment. Bad hair days happen to everyone, not just curly girls. Don’t give up on embracing the curly life. Trial and error is a part of figuring out what works best for your curls. Be an example. Little eyes are always watching. Go on mama, let your hair down!

2. Eventually, embrace a method. While there are many out there, I’m going to give it to you straight – so many of us are personally LOVING the Curly Girl Method. It has a few basic rules, tools and groups, which bring together a wealth of knowledge from the web to flawlessly train our curls.

3. Let children decide their own idea of beauty. The concept of loving what you look like is hard for most adults. It’s not any different for children. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Help them redefine their own idea of beauty by helping them understand that beauty is not what we look like, but rather who we are inside. With that, they can always be confident about who they are.

Let your hair down, mama!

Confidently Curly

It’s important for children to start developing their personal autonomy at a young age. It helps build confidence and allows them to think and act for themselves. It’s our job as parents to help locate the tools for our children to do that! For some of our children, it starts right at the top of their head – with the very curl of their hair – take it from a curly girl.

Learning to care for your curly kids hair is a part of putting essential tools in their “toolbox”. Caring for your children’s hair and caring for your own is important, but teaching them to take care of it is equally important.

Marriage On The Rocks

It’s not easy to admit when we’re on the rocks.

You’re raising kids and you’re the last thing on each other’s task list.

It’s easy to pose for pictures, pick a filter, and get them posted up on Insta.

Not as easy to pretend you’re happy when your husband seems less interested and your kids are plotting against you.

Because who has time to play tit for tat, or getting in the sack, when there are butts to wipe and order to maintain.

It’s less challenging to go to bed early than to risk being touched by the partner we love; because you’re tired of being needed or maybe, your breasts are still leaking.

You don’t share that loving gaze like you did when you were 25; you’re both exhausted with kids, work, and life at home in general.

Now, you don’t struggle over “how it should be” anymore.

Because now, you know what you can depend on.

And you know every single time it comes down to “each other.”

He’s still the first thing you think about in the morning; she’s the family’s full-time director, dedicated, and stitched together with grace.

Part of loving someone is understanding that you won’t always like them; it’s accepting that you won’t always be likable either.

It gets better with small battles, and even better with time; it takes commitment and growth.

You’re not just raising children, as you are evolving, you’re continuously raising each other.

So, don’t fight without saying “I’m sorry,” and don’t go to bed without kisses.

Never leave the house without saying “I love you.” Especially now.

It’s totally okay to be on the rocks.

When the foundation cracks and your love still stands: you will see that together, you’re made of stone.

Caregivers and Elsewhere

My eyes crossed when I read the message: “We have a confirmed Covid-19 case in our infant/toddler room…”

I think before I came full circle, I exited my body and had a full blown argument with myself out there in elsewhere.

Why did you let her go back?
Why did you take her to the park?
What if that sneeze had an alternative agenda?

The “new normal” comes with a learning curve; I call it “elsewhere.”

What could I have done better?
What did the staff do wrong?
Who do I have to contact?
What comes next?

But before I came back to my body and got myself together, the staff made a plan.

Before I could ask the 71st question as a mother of 1, they had all the answers as caregivers of 20+.

Before I had to get a swab shoved up my nose to assume my freedom (and my sanity), they quickly lined up to have swabs shoved up theirs.

All I’m really trying to say is the place that you drop your kids off at each day is more than just a day stop.

Especially now, while they’re operating with much more scrutiny, and double the grace.

Your kids are their kids and they’re following a higher standard out there in this “new normal” – for the same pay.

So, if you see those dreaded words and happen to leave your body for a moment- I hope that it’s gratitude that you circle back to.

Just like it’s gratitude I am feeling today.
Because it’s scary out there in elsewhere.

And we are so lucky for the caregivers who withstand what they are withstanding, just for the love of our children.

The Gift of a Book

When someone gives you a book it means they trust you enough to invite you into their world; they believe in your imagination and they’ve gifted you a passport to explore.

When someone gives you a book it might mean they believe in your future. It could mean they want you to read in between the lines.

When someone gives you a book, they’re adding to your collection of knowledge and time. It means they believe you’re worth the read.

When someone gives you a book they are giving you the gift of all time. They understand that stories live on forever; and have gifted you a faithful friend.

When someone gives you a book it means they share thoughts and ideas close to your own it. It could mean ‘I see you.’ and ‘I feel you.’ – or perhaps – “I am you.”

When someone gives you a book, they care about your time and how you spend it; they want you to know that it’s words and time, literally the *thought* that always counts.

When someone gives you a book, you should really thank them.
Because when someone gives you a book they are telling you they love you.

And the size of the heart of a person who chooses to give you a book – will almost always match the adventure between its covers.

A Brief Remember.

“Someday there will be a moment when you can’t recall a moment – so go ahead and give yourself a brief remember.

There will be a time when no thought you can think will bring back yesterday, so please – take a brief remember.

One day each of your own will walk out of that door and into their own, so I challenge you- take in a brief remember.

There will be a life after this, where only your stories outlive you, and they cannot exist unless you speak them into existence.

So go ahead, speak it and take a short remember.

Remember what made you.

Remember the good.

Remember the bad.

Remember each moment.

Remember to that tomorrow is not promised.

Speak of today- tomorrow, of your past when you remember.

Of the stories, the people and places.

Just remember.

That you were lucky for today, and doubly for the chance of tomorrow.

So very lucky for each brief remember.”