The Princess was sitting in her castle and she swore no man would she let woo.
She turned them all away as she said, no, not you, not you, not you, to myself I will be true.
She danced with her butterflies, she twirled in her flower gardens like when she was two.
She whispered to her flowers, confessing, I love you and you and you.
So happy was this woman that she vowed never to wed and then a Knight in dazzling armor appeared at the castle gates, the sun shining on his head.
She was blinded by his beauty, aura like spun gold and this one Knight she invited to her bed, visions of together growing old.
Prince Charming was his name and wow, that man tickled her fancy with his soft kiss and even if he just walked by, she would stumble and a step she would miss.
Well, we all know about no such thing as happy endings and soon the Princess gave up her other loves, like her writing.
She was busy twisting and turning and bending to keep the Prince happy, looking in her mirror-mirror and often sitting there silently for hours.
The Prince started kissing her less and less often and his voice for her…he no longer softened.
Many nights she cried herself to sleep, under so many full moons…she would weep and weep and weep.
Many moons later, she came to her senses, had the guards toss the Prince out and around her old gardens she built stronger fences.
This is a true story and you know it’s true, because I was the Princess and you, you were the Knight I gave my heart too.
Silly Princess, Stupid Boy, hard lessons, me and you.
You have to wear a bra!
You’re too young to shave your legs and I don’t care if all the other girls your age are doing it!
I read your diary. We need to talk.
Yes, there are microphones hidden in your barrettes!
If you didn’t take my green eye shadow, then why are your eyelids green?
I’m gonna kill you!
I’m your mother and your father!
Take down those rock posters or I’ll tear them down!
I don’t believe you.
Never let your husband see you without your make-up on or your hair a mess!
Don’t ever let him see you in the green face mask!
You have to try harder and look better, after you’re married.
Cook him a big breakfast and have his supper ready when he comes in from work.
Are you gonna let him get up and make his own coffee?
Tough luck, life isn’t fair!
THINGS I WISH I’D SAID EVERYDAY
I love you.
Let’s all go out and play.
I don’t care if you make a mess!
Go to college and get a degree, before you have kids.
He shatters my self-worth
with a single sentence.
“You looked prettier before
you went back to work.”
Oh God, I’m nothing.
Wait. I go to the mirror
just to see for myself.
A familiar woman
sadly stares back.
I give her a smile
brush away her tears.
Hey, I look better
since I started working.
I realize, I am not the
woman he says I am,
I am the woman
my own eyes see.
My sisters and I, we like to love Mad Men. Seriously.
We are Crazy Women.
The Mad Men we love are always mad at the world and we spend way too much valuable time trying to make them calm and happy…
We are old-fashioned, cooking and cleaning while working full-time, loving our man all night, kinda women.
It doesn’t help very much.
Turns out Mad Men don’t want the all night loving after they get you. They are too busy being Mad at you.
But Mad Men don’t always tell you when they’re Mad…they just make you pay in a million little ways and then tell you it’s your fault.
Can you say Gaslight?
The Mad Men think everything revolves around them and I’m being brutally honest here, Crazy Women agree.
Splitting up is as common as Full Moons in our homes.
We certainly know how to leave, we just don’t know how to stay gone, so reuniting is also on our agendas just as often.
Fight. Cry. Talk. Don’t talk. Pack. Leave. Talk every night for hours. Agree on a fresh start. Pack up. Go home. Unpack. Pack. Leave.
We put up with a bunch of bullshit, but luckily the Mad Men are all different, so our phone calls and visits never get boring.
We got rid of the Mad Men who hit many years ago. I give us credit for that.
However, there are thousands of ways to hurt another human being without hitting them.
We watched our mom maneuver this same road with our dad, a truly certifiable Mad Man, and we vowed that we’d never marry a man like him.
But we did.
We are not weak women.
We are strong, intelligent, creative, loving, caring, beautiful women.
But once we fall in love, we give of ourselves until we break and we do not accept defeat gracefully.
My dad begged my mom to leave him before he killed her in a drunken stupor, which he was working on every night, the killing and the stupor.
He would try to wrap the phone cord around her neck and strangle her while my twelve-year-old sister sat on Mom’s lap and stopped him.
My mother’s most famous words were, “Go to bed. your father is not going to kill (or hurt) anyone tonight.”
Our strongest model of reality and she told us we were safe when we were not safe.
Dad even stood over our beds with his hunting rifle now and then. Pondering killing us.
Reality has been confusing for us, at best.
As young girls, we all had a turn sleeping in front of Mom’s bedroom door trying to listen under the crack to see if she was still breathing.
If dad got quiet, she would say, “Go to bed, Ray.”
You would have thought she’d stuck a hot poker in his side because those words would spur the Mad Man on for another hour.
When I write it down and then read it back, it sounds insane and it was, but that was how we lived.
My dad would rant and rave until the sun came up and then we would all try to go to school and my mom would go to work…
It wasn’t hard to find a better man than my father, but I know for myself it took me a long time to realize that on a core level, I was recreating the dynamics of my childhood home and trying to make it come out right.
Four divorces between us, one of us married the same Mad Man twice, not naming any names, baby sister. I would have married mine twice too, but I never got brave enough to divorce him.
I did leave my Mad Man five times, six if you count spending a few nights (alone) crying in a motel. I think that counts.
Serious enough about not going back to buy my own place to live, twice.
I’m in the second place I bought right now, packing to go back home, again.
My sisters and I, we like to love Mad Men. Seriously.
We are Crazy Women.
I have the beginning stages of Fuhgedia or as its also called on the street, Fuhgeddaboudit.
It’s a very peculiar illness and quite common in codependent women.
We go through life blocking out our daily experiences and feelings so well that we start to fuhged who we are and what we are doing, who you are and if you are related to us.
We don’t remember who we were before someone told us who we needed to be, what the desires of our heart really are and how we would like to wear our hair.
So you might have to tell me things more than once…things like the day my newest great-grand baby is due, your birthday, my birthday, what day of the week it is…stuff like that.
Otherwise, I’ll just fuhged about it.
Jeanne Marie, 2016
I remember the pain I felt the first time I realized that my mom had grown older.
My heart broke that day, as I realized how frail the strongest woman in my life had become just since our last visit.
Today, at a newly turned 63, I fly to see my middle child, Jodie Lynne and she hasn’t seen me for two years.
I look good from 1800 miles away with the perfect lighting and a smart phone pose, but up close…
It will be the first time that she will realize that her mother is older. Much.
Human, not a super woman who can save the day…
Well, usually, I just mess up whom ever I’m trying to save, so that might be a good thing, LOL.
But she’s not going to like her mom’s newly acquired wrinkles.
It’s almost like the stamp of an expiration date upon my face and neck.
Not now, the wrinkles whisper, yet their very existence shouts out the reality that time is more valuable, limited.
My baby sister swears that I still look 17, so maybe Jodie Lynne will be wearing the same love shield.
I hope so, because no woman should ever have to watch her mom grow old.
P.S. We had an incredible visit. She kept telling me that I was “so little” but that’s another story.
My hands grow old
my legs do not
between a girl and
old woman I am caught.
My antique mirror is kind
The selfie pics a fright
My wrinkles will haunt
my dreamscapes tonight.
Just last year, wrinkles?
None. Lost thirty pounds
and crap, the damn
wrinkles, they did come.
Let this be a lesson
to all you over 60 ladies,
no extreme weight loss or
your face will fall to hades.
for Michelle Marie…
My first question was, why not everyday? Several women (angrily) asked me that same question when I posted or re-blogged articles related to domestic violence, emotional, verbal or sexual abuse. Well, I told them that I wondered that too, and that I didn’t name the dedication, I was just trying to honor the victims and the survivors because I come from that country and I am fluent in that language.
The question I have asked myself repeatedly this month is this: What does national awareness do for the victims? Does it change the abuser’s mind? Does he (or she) say, “Damn it! I’m not going to swear and scream at you until National Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, you lucky bitch!”
Does he pay the bills, buy some food, keep his hands off his daughter because it’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Will the family have a month of peace? Will her neighbor buy ice for her black eye?
The abusers and the victims are all too aware of what domestic violence is and the people who don’t acknowledge it all year long because it’s easier to look away, well they don’t give a flying fig that this month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month either.
The women who go to shelters expecting to find a way out, expecting someone to teach them how to stand on their own two feet, hoping for training so that they can get a job that will support them and their kids in the future, what do they think about National Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
How about asking the ones who returned home because the shelter was lacking in anything but a whole new set of rules, a bed and some used clothes.
The shelters where women in my family have gone provided a time out, nothing more. If you run a shelter that provides therapy, job training, education, legal representation and daycare, I apologize and I’d also like your hot line phone number.
I will post articles about abuse in October anyway, hoping that even one woman might find the courage to grab her babies and run for safety.
I have read the survivor’s stories and I have read the “he killed her” stories.
I have a “he killed her” story. I had a cousin who was murdered in front of her young son, while living in a shelter.
I cry and I hold every victim’s and every survivor’s story that I have ever read or witnessed in my heart. Including my own.
Victims and abusers, survivors and inflictors, well, to them every month is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. They just don’t talk about it.
So as this official National Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins, I feel helpless. I have no answers, no help for the millions who will go to bed hungry, crying and/or bruised tonight. For those who will sleep in their cars because it is safer than their home or because they have no home and friends and family are sick of helping them only to see them go back to the abuser.
I have tears, but Lord knows, they already have enough tears of their own.
Maybe we could make everyday Domestic Violence Awareness Day.
Cry until you laugh…Women Who Think Too Much by Jeanne Marie
A No Help At All Handbook
Many of you read my article about my daughter, Jodie Lynne, getting out of prison, The Big Picture, last week.
I said, “I am asking all of you who believe to pray for us. She is walking out the prison gates with nothing but the clothes on her back, a faith that God loves her, a belief that He will help her survive and a very strong desire to not return to prison.”
You responded with encouragement, support and promises of prayers…thank you so much.
I am thrilled to report that we got our miracle. One of many in Jodie’s Journey.
Her ex-husband, currently sober, has used his recovery connections to help her get into a recovery house for women. A very structured program designed to teach women to take responsibility for their own lives, while giving them a safe place to live. This is a big deal, definitely in the miracle category, because I have called recovery programs in the area and Jodie has already burned so many bridges that most of them wouldn’t even call me back.
When she is released, she will be taking a daylong bus ride back to Tulsa and as soon as she arrives, she will be going to the house for her interview. They have two openings and all she has to do is show up sober and say she is willing to follow the program’s rules. She will be accepted into the house that very night. She will not spend even one day or one night wandering the streets, looking for shelter.
She started crying when I told her. She had planned to leave prison with a list of shelters for the homeless and now she has a bed waiting for her.
If she wants to stay straight and stay out of jail, God has given her the opportunity. It won’t be easy, but it will be possible.
She has been calling me the last few weeks full of anxiety and nearly hysterical. I kept telling her that God had a place for her, we just didn’t know where it was yet and I believed that with all my heart, but nothing I could say calmed her down. I understood her fear, but this precious girl has helped me learn to trust God, so when I could tell her that I knew where her place was, my heart was overflowing with gratitude. I told her that I believed for her when she couldn’t and I reminded her that she has done the same for me.
Again, thank you for your encouragement, support and prayers,
I AM SHE
There was a time when my mother was middle-aged and me?
I was young and naïve, not a care in the world
the arrogance of youth was on my side.
I was a footloose hippie girl and I thought love was free.
Her skin was firm and tanned, black waves of hair fell to her shoulders
softly surrounding her fair face, bosom quite generous,
legs as fine as any model, she was my mother,
but with flower child simplicity, I used to call her Grace.
She was spirited back then, although she seemed quite old to me,
and how did I become imprisoned while she has learned to fly–a butterfly set free?
Tonight, as I glance into the mirror, my middle-aged face stares back.
Have I become her, and she, the child I used to be?
At seventy-three she’s still a beauty, but time’s fire has burned its’ trail
and when she had a stroke last year,
I realized how deeply she had aged; yet, become so childlike, so frail.
My firm skin, my shapely legs, will soon bow down to time,
much as my bell-bottoms and tie-up tops gave way
to blue jeans and then on to stretch pants and a baggy tee.
I will lose this interval named youth and as I look into her face,
I see my future and
I am she.
by Jeanne Marie
My mom went to play with the angels in 2009.
I decided the best way for me to celebrate today is to share some of my mum’s writing. I used to write a newsletter and my mum contributed poems and articles on a regular basis. I love you, Mum, and I know that even though you are playing with the angels, you still watch over me. Love, Jeanne Marie
A NOTE FROM GRACE
When my children were growing up and got into their “teenage problem” years, I’d become exasperated with them. I’d think, “They’re just like their father!” Then, one day the light dawned on me, (Marblehead) because after taking a hard, honest look at myself, I realized; they were just like me. The me I had suppressed and hidden deep inside, where no one else could see. I was as wild and rebellious as they, but I had put up a shield of adult perfection, striving to become the perfect mother that everyone expected me to be. I have now learned that I need to let this child in me come out to play, or the adult becomes a cold hard shell. I must confess, now that I’m older, I have to do this through my books and old TV movies. My mind wants to run through fields of flowers with all my clothes flung aside, but my body slows me down to a stroll through Wal-mart, wrapped in warm sweaters.
RANDOM THOUGHTS from Grace Christine
Life has taught me an important lesson. “Put your money where your mouth is.” I brag to everyone about my clever daughter and her newsletter. Her beautiful public letters to me fill me with pride. Sometimes they make me cry to see the love flowing between us, and it makes me feel so undeserving because I only did what any mother would do…I loved my daughter. I remember how I tried to convince my jealous husband (jealous even of his own children) that “Love shared is never divided, it is multiplied.” My love was multiplied by him, and my four beautiful children, not divided amongst them. The years have shown me the strength in my children, and while I may not like everything they do, I love them and respect their right to be themselves. They have taken some of what I taught them and rejected what they found didn’t fit into each of their life styles; but, the base of our relationships have always been that I love them…unconditionally. So, Jeanne Marie, enclosed is my donation for stamps, and although I love my gift subscription, I want to contribute to WWTTM. Love, Mom
Thanks Mom, and by the way, I’ve met far too many mothers who don’t love their children unconditionally, so take credit for the gifts you have given me. You do deserve it! Love, JM
MY MUM WAS A TOUGH OLD BIRD BY Grace Christine
My mother had a quick wit and she always had a snappy come back. One day at the doctor’s office she complained about an ingrown toenail. The doctor had started to perform the minor surgery when the nurse asked, “Aren’t you going to freeze her toe before you cut?” “No,” said the doctor, with a grin on his face, “she’s a TOB.” Turning to Mum, he asked, “Do you know what that means?” Mum snapped back, “A tough old bird.” Then, she added, “You’re a DOLL. Do you know what that means?” The doctor reluctantly admitted that he didn’t know, so Mum gave him the answer. “A Stuffed Dummy.” Behind the doctor’s back, the nurse gave Mum a thumbs-up for putting the doctor in his place.
Grace Christine Doucette, October 12, 1926-July 27, 2009
Dear Jeanne Marie,
I’m dysfunctional? What’s that you say?
Well, I’ll deny it to my dying day.
I look at the world with rose-colored glasses,
It’s the men I find that make the wrong passes!
I’m so innocent, I believe all their lies
I think that’s true love deep in their eyes.
I see only what I want to be there
And accept love unafraid, not a care.
I function perfectly straight every day
And don’t allow reality to get in my way!
When I kiss my prince, he instantly
becomes a toad,
And I’m covered with warts,
alone on the road.
But I keep going, living my dreams,
Life just can’t be as bad as it seems!
Dysfunctional? Nope, not me!
I’m still waiting for my prince at seventy-three!
Guess Who? (Love, Mom)
by Grace Christine
How many times must a heart break,
before it falls apart?
How many times can we sift the ashes
and force the flame to start?
In the pain of loving and dying each day,
the smallest flame can light our way,
And as crazy as it may seem to some;
it’s the hope of love that’s yet to come.
So we bind the fragments together with
glue, and place our faith and hope with You.
You alone, can see the other side of life,
You alone, know the purpose
of our heartache and strife.
ODE TO THE MAILMAN
by Grace Christine
You keep the mail flowing between
my daughter’s house and mine,
It’s worth the price, for this way we find
That loves keeps alive with each letter
So tell me, sir, what could be better?
Through snow, rain, sleet,
or hot humid day,
We know our thoughts are on their way.
You guard our hearts,
sealed in white paper
And we trust your devotion,
what could be safer?
I just wish I could squeeze me
I know I’d be safe
throughout the long ride.
And when she opened
my extra-large letter
I would pop out and hug her…
that would be better!
Love ya dear, Mom
Are you crazy? Not yet? Well, you can always try motherhood! It worked for me. Okay, so most women love babies. Women are attracted to babies due to a very basic, maternal instinct. Reason and logic are only slightly involved in this picture. The longing to have a baby is so strong in most women that those who can’t conceive are devastated. Babies are so precious, all soft and cuddly, and they’re even more adorable when they start to smile and coo.
Additionally, there’s no sweeter fragrance than the aroma a baby sends forth, fresh from his bath, swaddled in a Downy soft blanket. Combine that with the essence of Johnson’s baby powder and rare would be the woman whose hormones could resist the “maternal urge.” You visit your friend and her new baby one afternoon. When your husband comes through the door that evening you say, “Oh honey, I want to have a baby!”
Well, I’m here to set the story straight and reveal some well-kept secrets about motherhood. I’ll tell you secrets that will expose the reality behind the charming, family portraits from Wal-Mart, those costly, cheap pictures we love to hang on our living room walls. The things that women who are already caught never tell to the women who are still free. Misery loves company and we can’t bear to see the smug expression on your faces as you say, “My kids are going to be different.”
Let’s start with the pregnancy. One night, you and the man of your dreams make wild, passionate love and as a result you become pregnant. (Sometimes, this occurs even when you’re using three different types of birth control. What a miracle!)
Pregnancy. An awkward word, don’t you think? Rightly so, because in about eight months you will be as awkward as your worst nightmare. By the ninth month, you can’t sleep more than twenty minutes without waking up to go to the bathroom. You’ll forget what your feet looked like. Shaving your legs will be a fond memory. You’ll be praying for labor pains and once they start, you’ll be praying for the strength to get out of those stirrups and kill the man who did this to you. As you begin to scream swears in the labor room (swears your husband has never even heard before) little does he realize, you are saving the superlative curses. They will come out of your mouth, unbidden, in the delivery room.
You’ll think, thank God, as the nurse lays the baby on your stomach. The doctor lets your husband (if he hasn’t fainted or run away) cut the baby’s umbilical cord and you both count the ten, tiny fingers and toes. One nurse takes the baby off to be bathed and another nurse kneads and beats on your stomach. (I kid you not!) They wheel you back to your room and you fall asleep thinking, it’s over. (No, I’m afraid it’s just beginning.)
You’ll be so sick of maternity clothes (designed by men who have never carried forty extra pounds around their waist) that you’ll give them to the first pregnant woman you see. Even if it’s your husband’s old girlfriend. Your husband might gently ask, “Why don’t you keep them for the next time, sweetheart?” and that’s when he will learn about post-partum blues. I don’t think I’ll give all the secrets away; let’s save the “baby blues” for a surprise.
The baby is home. Your friends and your family have left. Your husband has gone back to work. At that moment, reality rears it’s ugly head. You are out of diapers (the baby has soiled twenty-four since yesterday), so you decide to get dressed and go to the store. “Whose jeans are these?” you ask. “Why can’t I get my jeans up over my hips?” You double check the closet to make sure these are your clothes. In tears, you pull on an old pair of stretch pants and one of your husband’s sweatshirts. Get used to them. It’s the uniform of motherhood, and will soon be as comfortable as an old friend.
The baby pooped his last diaper while you were rummaging in the closet, and as you pick him up, he regurgitates down the front of your sweatshirt. (That’s part of the uniform.) The fragrance that your friend’s baby radiated the day you held it, is lacking in your infant. She forgot to tell you that babies don’t stay clean. You sit down, crying, and you call your mother. She brings diapers and advice. “Save your tears for when he is a teenager,” she tells you. “This is easy, compared to that.” You don’t believe her. You think maybe she’s just being sarcastic. (However; years from now her words will haunt you, as your child goes to school, learns to drive and chooses his own friends.)
I think you’ve got the general picture concerning babies. Let’s move on to my personal favorite. The terrible two’s. This usually strikes when the child is between one and two years old and lasts until he moves out. At the onset of this natural childhood disaster, he learns to talk and how to say “NO!” He may forget how to poop on the potty, how to pick up his toys or how to eat with a spoon, but he will never forget how to say, “NO!”
He will get into your record collection, he will get into your books and he will get into your child-proof cabinets. He will climb into the refrigerator at 6:00 a.m., but he will never climb willingly into a warm bath! He will climb into your bed when he is sick and vomit on you as you sleep. “Momma, I’m sick,” will be his excuse. ( Just because the child is six years old and knows where the bathroom is, don’t expect him to use it.)
Young couples fall in love and get married, usually thinking that having children will be the ultimate expression of their love. Survival of the human race is ensured by our urge to reproduce and by our raging hormones. However; if given a choice, how many women would actually go back and do it all again? Ann Landers took a survey on that subject and was shocked at the response. The majority of people who answered the survey voted no, they would decide not to have children, if they had it to do over.
Somewhere, there is a perfect mother who has raised healthy, well-adjusted children. She has balanced the demands of motherhood and a part-time job. She has never had any major problems with her teenagers. She has no guilt or regrets, and she is happy that she gave up her life for her children. When you find her, let me know, because I’d like to meet her.
Each child you bring into this world will brand you. My body bears the scars of my children’s births. I had three cesarean sections and my scars cover the area my bathing suit used to bare. (I’m not even going to discuss stretch marks.) I’ve been doomed to a one-piece suit for all eternity.
My heart and soul bear their own scars. Years of toddler temper tantrums, hyperactive children, teenage mutiny, rebellion, hard rock and rap music, they have all taken their toll. Clothes borrowed and never returned. Disappearing makeup. Teenage pregnancies that made me a premature grandmother. School meetings with various principals and teachers, meetings where I was made to feel like an incompetent mother. (As the years passed, I began to have my husband go to these meetings. They never yelled at him.) Motherhood strips you of your dignity, your rights and eventually your vocabulary.
Some women manage to save their brain and can take it out of storage after the last teenager moves out. With a little dusting, it can be restored to an adult brain. Warning: attempting this restoration with even one teenager still living at home can cause further damage! For example, when I asked my teenage son to turn down his stereo so I could do my college assignments, he told me, “You don’t need to go to school; you’re too old.”
What was he really saying? “I want my mother’s attention. I want her to cook me a big meal. I want her to clean my room and entertain me. Unless one of my friends comes by and then I’m out of here!”
He was also thinking, “You’re not a student; you’re my mother!” I was thinking, “You’re not too old to slap!”
Motherhood drains you, uses you up and leaves a huge hole in your heart when your children leave home. If your child gets pregnant or decides to abuse drugs, it will be considered your fault. Even if it isn’t your fault, you will eventually accept society’s diagnosis, because mothers are supposed to be perfect, in complete control. This theory does not allow for the fact that children have their own personality, outside influences and other people in their life.
When will your child become mature enough to thank you for all you’ve given him, given up for him? Usually, that doesn’t happen until he has children of his own. However; with daughters, you can be almost sure it will happen right after the birth of her first child. Maybe even during the delivery.
Sometimes, your husband leaves, long before the kids are grown. He has a choice. You do not. Your time, your energy and all of your resources will go into raising your children. Did I mention the mounds of laundry, the piles of dirty dishes and the mountains of meals you will cook? Well, that’s another story in itself.
There is a positive side to motherhood, but when your children are teenagers it’s hard to remember that fact. I enjoyed having babies and I loved staying home with them when they were small. As I watched my first grandson come into this world, I was overwhelmed with an incredible rush of love and excitement! It was breathtaking to see the miracle of his birth. My grandchildren are precious and by far the best gift motherhood has given me.
As I read Parents magazine the other day, I noticed that most of the articles concerned problems that arise when raising children and how to solve them. The title of this article really caught my eye: “Survival Guide for New Moms.”
So, even Parent’s magazine concedes, it’s a question of survival!
When you’re thinking about that beautiful baby you’d like to have, remember this advice–babies are easy to have, labor included, compared to the strenuous task of raising them. Your career will be motherhood, trust me. Everything else in your life will come second. I’m sure many women would disagree with my views on motherhood. But don’t even let them approach me, unless they have already raised at least one child.
Do I love my children? Yes, enormously. Would I choose to become a mother if I had a chance to start over? I’m not sure. I can’t picture my life without them in it, but my children needed so much more and I had so much less than what they needed.
Motherhood has taught me numerous valuable lessons. We learn how to raise our children by rock, hard experience and by the time we’ve developed the necessary skills, our children are grown-up and they have children of their own.
On the plus side, the experience does prepare us for grand-parenting.
I have fourteen grandkids and three great-grandbabies. Their ages span from twenty-five-years old to four-months.
Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne
Today is my younger daughter’s fortieth birthday. Since we couldn’t be together, we created a substitute plan. We would celebrate over the phone.
When she called me, we only talked about things that made us happy. We talked about her silky-haired Chihuahua that I am raising, Maggie Mae, we talked about other dogs that we have loved through the years and we spoke of our happy dreams, instead of our nightmares.
We talked about peanut butter and marshmallow fluff being her favorite birthday cake (today) and how grateful she was to have snacks in her locker so that she didn’t have to go to the cafeteria to eat on her birthday.
For me, as on this date every year; I am thinking about the morning that she came into my life. She made a grand entrance, all 5-pounds 6-ounces of her. Her daddy had ordered me to have a boy and he meant it, so when they told me I had a beautiful little girl, I started to cry.
It had been a rough birth, a planned C-section, but the spinal that didn’t work before they made the incision was not part of the plan, so I was a bit overwhelmed and the moment she was out, I was over-drugged to compensate for their mistake. Then, they brought her to me and the moment I saw her little face shaped like a pink heart, I fell in love with her. She was so tiny and so cute that she looked like a dolly, not like a real baby.
Everyone’s life is complicated, hindsight is an incredible tool to beat yourself with and you can do some real damage. I often find ways to blame myself for every unwise choice this beautiful woman has made, but I’m not going to do that today.
Today, I am going to celebrate her life, her birthday and the fact that when she is sober, she is full of Grace and Light. I will celebrate the day twenty years ago when she taught me to open myself to the spirit of our Universe, the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the Stars, the Wind and the Rain. The day she taught me to stand barefoot outside and to raise my arms up to the sky so I that I could ground myself in the beauty and the strength of God’s love through the elements He created. I still try to remember to do this every morning and what my daughter taught me that day changed my life.
Today, I will celebrate the precious gift that her aliveness gives me, no matter where she has to rest her head on her birthday.
As my daughter falls asleep tonight, in the gritty gloom of Eddie Warrior’s Correctional Center in Oklahoma, I will fall asleep in sun-drenched Florida. But we will be together in spirit. I will hold her tight in my heart, I will keep her ever constant in my prayers and if I am blessed, tonight she will stop in for a visit as I dream.
Happy Birthday, Jodie Lynne
Special thanks to Michelle Marie for the awesome family picture above.
It all started with a can of pink paint. I was sitting on my porch when my husband came home from running errands and he proudly handed me a can of hot pink paint.
He had a big smile on his face as I whooped and hollered and took the can of paint from him.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” I said. “Is this for my porch?”
“I got it to do the front door,” he answered.
“You said you wanted a hot pink front door, but if you want it for your porch, you can have it. I wasn’t sure how dark to get anyway and it might be a bit light for the door.”
“Oh yes,” I said, “much too light for the door, perfect for the porch.”
“Well it’s your porch and you always said you wanted it pink, with a yellow ceiling, so why not?”
And that is exactly how a can of pink paint started a three-day work of love project.
He went back to the store and bought me a perfect sunshine yellow for the ceiling and a darker hot pink for the front door. We painted the porch together and it was exciting to watch a daydream turn into reality. We don’t usually work well together, but our 32nd anniversary was the same weekend we painted the porch, so maybe that’s the reason we spent three happy days together, painting, tearing out a thirty-year old rug, laying a new floor and having fun.
By the fourth day, we were giving each other a bit too much advice, but we finished the porch without a fight and that makes the porch even more special to me.
The morning after we finished he went out and came back with a surprise, an antique plant stand, the perfect last touch. Now, no matter how dreary or rainy the day gets, my porch is glowing with happy, sunshine, flowers and good memories. I also got the PINK front door!
I dream that I am Cinderella and I am running and running and I have lost my glass slippers and I have lost my dresses. I have lost everything because the man I loved has taken it all away.
The next morning, I start walking back to the castle to reclaim my dresses, my glass slippers and my books.
I will tell him, “I want everything but the castle, the crown and you, my Prince.”
One day later…and there is a new Princess in my place. She is beautiful and she is young and she has my slippers, she has my books, she has my dresses, she has my castle, she has my crown and she has my Prince.
I tell her that she can keep it all except my slippers, my dresses and my books.
Wait! I am Cinderella and I will clean his dirty ashes no more.
Yes, I am Cinderella and I am beautiful and I will flee from this dark castle.
I don’t need the damn slippers. No, I don’t need anything that I left behind when I ran away.
Now I understand, I have everything that I need in my heart and he can keep the castle, the crown, the slippers, the dresses and my books.
I turn and I walk away. I am no longer naked. I have found my old dresses and my old shoes in a shack behind the castle.
I see my grown son walking toward me and I say, “I’m sorry. I can’t stay. I feel as if I won a million dollars last night.”
He says, “Then you have to go and do what you do and be wonderful, use your wonderful, Mom.”
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” I tell him as he hugs me.
“That’s okay, it doesn’t matter if you did. It’s fine, as long as you’re happy.”
I don’t want to leave him and as I walk away, I’m glad I told him I was as happy as if I had found a million dollars, because he understands money, but my freedom is worth so much more than a million dollars.
At last. Freedom. I have found my wings. I can fly.
I have my old dresses and I have my old shoes and I am still Cinderella.
The Prince can keep the castle and all the belongings.
I have my freedom and I can feel my glitter returning.
I cried in the castle because I was sad, but now I am happy and I am free.
My heart is torn to shreds, lying in pieces on the ground, but my soul, oh thank you God, my soul is healing.
The castle is behind me, the Prince and all of my belongings are in the hands of another woman, my shoes are old, but who needs new?
I sigh as I slip the last reminder off my finger, the gold wedding band that once upon a time, made me feel proud when it shone in the sun.
For just a moment…I hold it in my hand.
Then, I fling it over the water fall, watching it disappear.
Let the Prince buy her a new ring.
I run and I run and I am me, I am Cinderella.
I wish I lived in a little New England farmhouse with the wood stove burning and a fire in the fireplace. Beans would be cooking on the wood stove, snow would be falling outside my window and you, living right down the street.
I would sneak over and I would throw snowballs at your bedroom window at midnight so you would come out to see who it was and then I would dance in the snow under the moonlight and it wouldn’t hurt because the cold snow would make my foot pain better, and you would shiver in your doorway and say, “Get in here, you idiot!”
I would grab two icicles from your front window and dance into your warm kitchen and we would have hot chocolate with pink marshmallows and we would laugh.
We would talk for hours like when we were little girls and we would forget that we are not little girls anymore because when we are together we are just sisters. We are not old, we are not crippled, we are not grandmothers, we are not great-grandmothers (me) and we are not old ladies.
Because when we are together, we are young girls again with our future in front of us and we laugh…and I would throw snowballs at your bedroom window at midnight…
Letting go of your hand
although you tell me
I cannot stand
unless you are by my side.
You mixed your lies…
truth, shaken and blended
to create a sweet disguise
under your mask I did not peek.
No, I will not behave.
No, I will not be quiet.
No, I will not be a slave
to lies I once believed.
Tell me this…
where is the woman
I used to know?
Where is she now
where did she go?
Trying to leave
you beg me to stay
weak in the head,
I must be, because
suitcases are unpacked
clothes are put away.
Breathing ain’t easy
when you’ve been
crushed by the muck.
Leaving is hard
but it’s the staying,
oh ya, it’s the staying
that sincerely sucks.