Tuesday, June 20, 2017

When The Stars Go Blue



There are these moments that are so perfect.  The girls fit perfectly in the bend of my elbow, one perfectly seated on each leg.  Delilah turns the pages of the board book with perfect timing, while Eden "reads" along with perfect memorization.  Everything is perfect.

That's when I feel it the most.  That's when Gabriel's absence comes crashing back to me. That's when I am slapped in the face with loneliness that I shouldn't feel, surrounded by the love of my girls, and guilt for feeling lonely when each of them are the world.  I'm filled with regret for not being able to do the impossible, for not being able to heal Gabriel so that he could be here, wrecking these moments with his pleadings to not read any more 'baby' books.

Delilah turns the page.  I can't look.  I suddenly can't stand it.  It's all so beautiful, but the truth is something hideous.  The truth is there is a little boy that will always be missing from these scenes.

I can't look at the stars.  They stand between me and the little boy that I'd longed for all of my life.  Like a beautiful, tangled net, they hold him in the Heavens and all I can do is dream of who waits beyond those stars.  So I can't look at the stars.

Where do you go, when the stars go blue?  What am I supposed to do when no matter where I turn, I'm facing an empty space?

Not so long ago, under those stars at 2:25 AM, a little girl was born who looks so much like her big brother that sometimes I have to look twice.  A little girl with dark, sparkling eyes and a hint of a dimple in her left cheek and a toothy smile that will leave you victim to her charm.  A little girl who still nuzzles her head under my chin, against my neck, unknowingly filling the cracks in my broken heart.  My little star.  "Gabe," she attempts to say, as she tugs at his picture hanging next to the stairs.  I can't look at the stars, but I can't look away, either.

Nearby another not-so-little girl runs and jumps and spins and dances, curly hair flouncing, long limbs bending and flapping.  A not-so-little girl with a not-so-little personality and a not-so-little vocabulary that will lash you with its wit one minute then warm your heart with its sweetness the next.  My piece of paradise.

Outside a pot containing the famous blueberry bush still sits, waiting, hoping against the odds for another sprout of green, another sign of life in defiance of expectations.  I may never see another leaf or blossom or berry.  Maybe all you see when you look at that plant is a bunch of dead branches.  But I see what could have been.  I see what could still be.

Hope is a strange thing.  Hope can break our hearts and let us down and fail us.  Hope hurts.  Hope takes guts.  Hope requires love.  Hope keeps me hanging on, even when the stars are blue.

Gabriel, "I lit a fire with the love you left behind.  And it burned wild."  I miss you.  With every breath, with every beat of my heart, I miss you.  I always will. I'll always see the empty space.  But I'll always be thankful for 10 days that changed the world.  You changed my world.

*Credit to Grace Potter and the Nocturnals' song "Stars" and Ryan Adams' song "When the Stars Go Blue" for inspiration.




Monday, May 22, 2017

Double Take



The head of the woman in line in front of me whipped back and forth between me and her twin boys, as our six eyes remained locked in a stare.  I finally broke away to see her smiling at me.

"They're killing me.  I really want another."

She laughed.  "Take them for a few hours.  You'll change your mind."

"How old are they?"

"They'll be two in August."

"They're precious."

As she unloaded her things I looked at my own Costco cart, full of things that I am able to buy because I "only" have two children, including a new outfit for both Eden and Delilah.  If we were to add another to the mix, I couldn't spontaneously make these purchases.  But as it stands, buying things for the two girls that I love so much is one of the little pleasures in my life.

I'm fortunate that putting the girls in a new dress, or a new bow in their hair, can still make me smile.  Just an hour before my Costco run, I had taken my pre-session survey to gauge my depression and anxiety levels.  Survey says I've lost interest in things that used to interest me, and I find little pleasure in life right now.

I don't really have much to complain about.  I have a beautiful family, a good job that I love, everything I need and most of what I want.  But it all feels a bit meaningless these days.
As I leave the warehouse I encounter the woman again, the twin boys still sitting side by side in the shopping cart.  She sees my longing gaze and asks, "How many do you have?"

"Three."

"And you want more?"  I smile.  She has no idea how loaded my answer really is.

Increasingly I find myself grieving the child that I miscarried.  This always comes and goes in waves, sometimes affecting me more than others.  This wave will pass, but not a day goes by that I don't think about who that child might have been today.  I know that in those two boys sitting side by side, I saw the two children that will never get to be 21 months old.  I saw the future I might never have, the children I still hope to have that may just never come.

In the car the tears stream down my face as Zac Brown sang, "My whole world, it begins and ends with you. . . "  I don't know anymore where the world begins and where it ends, I only know that I'm drowning in it, and there again, I don't know why.

At home I presented Eden with her new outfit.

"It's a beautiful dress!"  I promise her she can wear it tomorrow.  Upstairs, in addition to her closet full of clothes, there are boxes and tubs and cabinets brimming with clothes each girl has outgrown, loving folded in the hopes that I will get to use them again on a child of my own.  Other clothes remain still in their package, a fading ember of faith that one day, I'll have another little boy.  I tell myself that if that day comes I will pat myself on the back for being so prudent.  But day by day I feel a bit more like Ms. Haversham, clinging to a futile dream while the world goes on without me.

Marcos tells me the news, that a terrorist attack occurred at the Arianna Grande concert in England.  19 are dead, which seems comparatively less devastating.  He tells me that online people are commenting, "Too bad Arianna Grande wasn't one of them."  Fleetingly, I think, "Too bad I wasn't one of them."  Very young people attend her concerts, young people with a whole life ahead of them.  Young people who still love to wake up every morning.  Young people who don't have children that are destined to grow up with a chronically depressed mother who never seems satisfied.

I go through the motions of bedtime routine.  I'm in a low, right now, and I know it will pass.  We brush teeth, read stories, say prayers, tuck in stuffed animals, and the girls seem satisfied that I've given them my best, even though my best is far less than they deserve.

I trudge downstairs and between picking up toys and sippy cups and board books I fix myself a drink.  I see tiny shoes, and think about the shoes that are missing.  I sit down at the keyboard and pour out my heart, filling its place with a cocktail and look ahead to a time when the pendulum swings and the
survey says that I love life again.





Thursday, April 6, 2017

Old Reliable

It's as constant as the rising sun.

My phone blinked with the alert and though I've promised I'll be better, I peek at my phone.

"Have you forgotten to enter your period?" my calendar reminds me.  Technology is amazing, but not as amazing as my own ability, after having lived in my body for the last 35 years.  I'm not late quite yet.  Still, I ignore the tell-tale signs.  Although I'm routinely asked, few people know how badly I want another baby.

With a subtle cramping in my abdomen, I make plans to set the pregnancy test out tonight, ready to take tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is a lucky number 7.  04-07-2017.  A good day to find out you're having another baby.  

Unsuspecting but for my suspicions, I go to use the restroom, and just like that the hopes and dreams fall down all around me.  The tears fall freely.  I can't stop them.  I'm not having another baby.

I'm reminded of the admonishments.  You're not ready.  You're so busy.  You're so overwhelmed by the girls already. You;ll never be able to afford to give them all what you want to give them.  You've got your two.  You'll always have your boy.  You have plenty of time.  Lots of people have babies much older than you.  High risk? Well, lots of women are doing it.  Just be happy with what God has already given you.

I am reminded of the regrets.  You shouldn't drink so much.  You should have taken better care of yourself.  Lose some weight first.  Space them out a bit more, you overwhelmed yourself the last time.  You've rushed into this. You're too eager.  You're always so scared that things aren't going to work out.

I am reminded of the dreams.  He would be another little boy.  Or maybe a third baby girl.  I'll call him this.  She'll look like that.  He;ll ride a red tricycle.  She'll cure cancer.  He'll be President.  She'll win a Grammy Award.  He'll learn to tie his shoes.  She'll live to be 11 days old.  My dreams are at once far fetched and starry eyed, and the things most of you take for granted.

A stained strip of toilet paper circles the bowl, then disappears.  A tear falls.  An ember of hope extinguishes.

Tomorrow someone will ask.  "When is your baby due."

"I'm not pregnant," I'll say.

The next day someone else will ask, "So, are you having more?"

"I guess we'll see," I'll answer.

I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

D is for Diagnosis Day

D is for dream, like the one that filled my heart the day I learned you were on your way. The little dreams - You'd have my eyes, your daddy's nose.  The big dreams - Maybe someday you would cure cancer, pitch in the Major League, even be President.  September 28, 2010, with one positive test, the world opened wide.

D is for "Danny's Song," the lyrics that piped over the pumps at the Arco station where I stopped for gas that wonderful day, the words "Think I'm gonna have a son" and "Everything is gonna be alright" filling me with their promise.

D is for Doppler, that incredible machine by which I heard your heart beat for the very first time.  The tears poured from my eyes, streaking my face.  I'd never heard the heartbeat of your brother or sister before you, gone before we ever had the chance.  November 8, 2010, when everything was gonna be alright, because you had a heartbeat, and it was strong.

D is for December, a bittersweet month.  Your brother or sister was due that month, but nature had other plans and instead, I was three months along with you.  The holidays, the anticipation of the birth of the Christ child, took on new meaning as I spent the Advent season also planning your arrival.  It was the most wonderful time I would have for years.

D is for Diagnosis Day.  The words hit me like a spray of bullets, striking me with a force I had never felt, lodging in my chest, making it hard to breathe, hard to live.  "Incompatible with life". . . "Minutes, sometimes hours.  Sometimes days.". . . "No brain.". . . When I recall that day I can still feel it - The pull, drawing me into the whirlpool, forcing me under, drowning me in the greatest pain I had ever known, washing over and drenching me so completely that it will always be a part of me.

D is for drop, as my heart did, down to the pit of my stomach where it burned.

D is for destroyed, what happened to your father and me as we watched our dreams go up in flames one fateful morning.

D is for damned, the way I felt knowing my body had twice failed my children, unable to grow you each "correctly."

D is for decision.  You were my son, my baby boy, my Gabriel, my strength.  I'd waited my whole life for you.  The law makes you nothing more than a choice, but you were everything to me, so I chose you.  I'd chose you over and over and over again.

D is for drunk, the only way your father knew how to relieve his pain.  I resented him even while I envied him.  I longed to join him in a haze, forget it all.  There was so little I could do for you then.  Sobriety was one of the few parts of this journey that were within my control.

D is for Days - Ten of them.  I'd hoped you'd be that rare exception.  As we fed you, took you home from the hospital, bathed you, changed your diaper, I wondered how I got to be this mom that got to keep her child for 10 days, all the while knowing we were living on borrowed time.  You were not mine to keep. . .

D is for dead.  Dear.  He's dead.  My son is dead.  He died in my arms.  He died.  He's dead.  The words, the truth is so hideous that sometimes I still can't believe it.  I have to see the truth written out in front of me, my way of waking myself from this walking nightmare, only to discover this is no dream.  You're gone.  The pain is invisible, but runs so deep.  How can a stranger not see it in me?  It's settled in my bones, a part of every move I make.  It's pooled at the bottom of my fractured heart, which strains with every beat.  It weighs me down, making every step, every breath, every day a struggle.

D is for differences.  Over the course of the year following your death, your father and I learneed that the differences between us were insurmountable.

D is for divorce. People ask if it was because of you.  It wasn't.  You are just a tiny little baby, and it wasn't because of you.  Without you, though, there was no reason to stay together.

D is for dare. To get out of bed every day is daring.  To take each step is a risk.  To go on living, to go on loving was brave.  I idn't understand how life could go on without you, Gabriel, but I dared to go on with it.

D is for date.  One date with your stepfather Marcos led to another, then another, and the next thing I knew. . .

D was for daughter.  There she was.  My daughter.  Your little sister.  Eden.  Paradise.  Eden with her perfectly round skull.  Eden , nearly twice your size.  Eden, who could never replace you, who isn't here to take your place or fill my aching arms.  Eden, her own little person, her own little light in this world.

D is for Delilah, the "one who weakens," that precious little girl who's just stolen my heart away once again.  In her sweet face I see a perfect blend of her big sister and her big brother.

D is for the day that I hold you in my arms again.  I dream of that day you and I are united.  I pray that it's many years from now, that I have an opportunity to raise your sisters and watch them build families of their own.  But when death comes for me I will not be afraid.  I will face it with dignity, a lesson you taught me.  I will humble myself one last time, beg forgiveness for my sins, and pray that I have done enough with this life to spend eternity with you, my son.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

This Weak and Idle Theme



I am thankful for the desk separating me from the mob of anxious case managers, each motivated by their own caseload of frustrated clients, and each wanting something from me.  They are each armed with a list of cases which need to be reviewed for settlement, walked through for settlement, or are set for a hearing in the next week.  I am reminded of my Friday nights behind the bar, patrons clamoring to get their order filled.  Except, I can't solve these problems now in front of me with a long pour.

I sigh.

"One at a time. Walk-throughs first.  Who has a walk-through for this week."  They each raise their hand.

My head feels heavy, my neck inadequate to carry it, as I turn to look out of the window just as a delivery truck passes by.  At the wheel I see Sean, squinting behind his wire-rimmed glasses, wearing the gray windbreaker that. . .

This isn't right.  That grey windbreaker is stuffed in a box, where it has been preserved since he died, which is stored away in my closet.  His glasses are in the box too - Two of the handful of keepsakes I saved from his apartment.  His parents would have given me more, but they were the ones who had lost a son, so I didn't ask for much.

I observe the van pulling into a garage, where the door closes behind him.

My focus returns to the crowd of co-workers standing before me.  Of course, this isn't right either.  Although sometimes the effect is the same, I am never mobbed by the case managers who do in fact each have a slew of cases, each with work that needs to be done on them.

"We have to go," one of them says, completely out of turn.  But I know, I have to go, I have to get out of this office, I have to find that van.  So, I follow her lead and we all leave the office.

In the parking lot she herds us all into a bus.  I turn in my seat to look at the garage door rising, the delivery truck exiting, a new driver at the wheel.  Behind him I can see Sean, but Sean doesn't see me.  The delivery truck has a new banner covering the sides. The driver is observing his surroundings in a way that is at once experienced but anxious.

Sean is in trouble.  They have him and won't let him go, for some reason.  He needs help.

I don't know what to do.  The bus is moving, and I don't know where we're going.  I look at the road ahead and turn to see that the truck is also turning, as we continue straight.  I begin to run to the front of the bus when everyone else on board also begins to exit.  We step off the bus at the entrance to an underground tunnel, where we are shuttled to another stop.  Upon leaving the shuttle and the underground tunnel, I find myself in a bustling plaza.  I scour the area, the shops and kiosks all around me, the people buzzing by, seeking out the grey wind breaker, the glasses, that face that haunts me still, nearly 12 years later. . .

Delilah's chatter weaves in and out of the scene as I toddle the lines of consciousness.  I hear Marcos - "I'm going to start breakfast."  Slowly I begin to realize that Delilah's voice is coming from the monitor on my nightstand.  I am lying on my back, a particularly difficult position for me to wake from.  I am still half asleep, still searching for Sean, willing my eyes to find him or in the alternative, for my body to wake itself from this dream.  Finally, consciousness wins.  My eyes snap open.  I am awake.

I lay still for a minute.  I didn't even get to talk to him.  I didn't get to ask him not to go.  He always goes, every time, but at least I get a chance to tell him that he should stay.

It's been three nights since the dream, but I still fill the emptiness of the missed opportunity. Three words pleaded in a dream, "Please don't go," are weighted with the things that never had the chance to be heard: "I want you to stay.  If you go, so many people will miss you.  I'll miss you.  I'll spend years feeling guilty for your death.  I will be tortured by the unanswered questions, the lack of resolution between us.  Twelve years down the road, I'll still miss the best friend I had in you, the man that tore down the walls that sexual assault built around me and showed me that I am beautiful not in spite of my flaws, but because of them.  I will think of you every day.  Please.  Let's see this through.  Let's have a normal break-up and discover, a year from now, that we are better off as friends.  Don't end it like this.  Please don't go."

Sean hasn't been in my dreams for at least two years.  Before that, he showed up about once or twice a year, and before that, two or three times a year.  The format is always generally the same:  I know that his time will be short, but he doesn't.  I know that when he walks away from me, he won't be coming back.  Since he hasn't been in my dreams, I've imagined what I think the dreams in recent years would have looked like, and written them here, in my blog, following the format that has presented itself for years.  When Sean showed up in my dreams again three nights ago with these new twists, I didn't know what to think.  I only knew that I had to write it down.

Monday, October 3, 2016

10 Days and 10 Innings

"When Gabriel was alive, did you ever think he might be one of those cases that lives for months, or years?"

I did.  I prayed, and wondered, and hoped, and even worried that we would be that family, and that my son would be that boy that proved all of the doctors wrong.

I remember the conversation with my mother in law.

"I wonder if his living longer than expected will make things harder?"

"Oh.  It will," she told me, as if that would be my punishment for carrying my son to term, and "forcing" her son along for the ride.

I would much rather remember the conversation with my own mother.

"Your dad keeps thinking maybe this is a sign.  Maybe he is supposed to retire right now and help you take care of this little boy."

We could dream.  And we did.  For ten days we clung to our hope, knowing how unlikely our dreams were to come true, but also knowing that days 2, 3, 4, and 10 were unlikely too.  See, by the time he was born, the medical community had written him off, and every day that he lived he made the impossible feel possible.  Even when he died, taking a piece of my broken heart with him, I was filled with gratitude for the boy who fought so hard, defying the odds and the expectations.  Maybe he wasn't going to live for months, or years, or even 11 days.  But he will always be my son.

Fast forward 5 years and several months to a Saturday night, game 161 of the regular season, and the Seattle Mariners entering the 10th inning of a game that would decide whether or not game 162 would matter, whether game 162 would be their last chance to make it to the Wild Card game for a chance to play in the World Series. They were tied in a game against the last place team in the division and one might think it would have been an easy win, but the Mariners had already won the last two games of the series and statistically, they were due for a loss.  But then again, back in July, most people probably thought that by October 1, the Mariners would have long been eliminated.

The game wasn't airing on any of the channels available to me, so I kept my phone in my hand, checking the game status every few minutes.  In the 10th inning, Oakland scored, and even with the last at-bat, the Mariners couldn't catch up.  The Mariners lost, and the play off dream was deferred for another year.

Oh, but what a season!  3 players, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and Kyle Seager, hit over 30 home runs this season - The first time since 1997, The Griffey Jr. Year.  Seth Smith hit two grand slams.  The Mariners won 86 games this season, finishing at .531 and looking like wild card hopefuls until the second-to last game of the year.  Seeing that loss, knowing what it meant, tugged at my heart.  But the 2016 Seattle Mariners had given me hope, and sometimes hope just has to be enough.

You see, I am no fair-weather fan.  One cannot have followed a team for 15+ years, watching them make it to the playoffs only once in that period of time and to this day, never having an opportunity to watch them in the World Series, and be a fair weather fan.

One cannot plead with God to make her a mother, beg God for a baby boy, but say that she loves him only so long as he is healthy, looks just like other children, and will outlive her.  I prayed for my little boy, and rain or shine, he is mine.  He is the love of my life.  The grief of losing him poured down on me and threatens to drown me still, and still I hold on to my love for him, the hope of seeing him again someday, and the dream that I may be worthy of the promises of Heaven.

10 innings. 10 days.  They can test your limits, and they can change the world.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Grind



Maybe, if I lay very still. . .

But it's too late.  Eden has already heard Marcos downstairs, and she's taken this as her signal that it's time to start the day.  I know she's on her way, so I roll over and glance at the clock on my phone - 5:45 - before she appears at my bedside. I turn to look at her and see my pile of hair and remember that last night was hair washing night, which means this morning is hair straightening morning.  I've got to stop planning my Monday mornings this way.

"Good morning baby bear."

"Momma.  Let's go downstairs."  She replaces her soggy lovey with the bear head back in her mouth and stands there, clutching her blanket.  Neither are supposed to leave her room, but since she realized she can get herself out of bed and down the hall in the morning, all bets are off.

"Why don't you lay in momma's bed for a minute with Mr. Bear."

"No.  I want to go downstairs."  I stagger towards the bathroom, toying with the possibility of just tying my hair into a sloppy ponytail.  After all, it's Monday, there's a lot going on in the office today, but none of it involves my appearance in a court proceeding.  Maybe I can even skip make-up today.  But when I turn on the light and I'm greeted by the frizzy tangle of hair I realize not straightening it today is not an option.  No one else will care, really, but every time I walk into the bathroom and see my reflection, that feeling of defeat and self-loathing will overcome me again.  I've finally reached a point where people seem to ask if I am pregnant again only once a week, compared to daily.  I'm starting to look like a person again, instead of a zombie.  No sense in ruining that streak.

I manage to straighten one of the five sections of hair that I've methodically developed over the years before Eden's chatter wakes up Delilah, and we can hear her on the monitor.

"Delilah's awake!  Let's go check on her!"

"No, Eden, let's give her a minute. . ." but she's already dashed off down the hall and over the monitor I can hear Delilah's door creak open and Eden say to her, "It's okay Delilah."  I sigh at my reflection and turn off the straightening iron before collecting Delilah from her bed and heading downstairs.

When we get to the kitchen I see that Marcos has already started warming Delilah's bottle.  I change her diaper and set her on the floor to play with Eden while I start Eden's breakfast.  With Marcos' assistance I manage to get Eden set up at the table to eat her oatmeal while I settle down with Delilah for a bottle.  Marcos kisses our goodbyes, and he's out the door and for a few minutes I enjoy Eden's happy response to the cubes of cheese I've put on her breakfast plate this morning, and Delilah's head on my chest as she drinks her bottle.  I know that she is on the cusp of ditching at least one of her four daily bottles, and I am worried it will be one of only two that I get to offer her on a daily basis.  Soon, Eden is telling me that she's finished and she wants to get out of her chair.  I ask her to wait while I finish feeding Delilah, but she won't and before I can stop her she's rattling the chair to free herself and in the instant before she's slid from the chair to the ground I imagine her tumbling backwards and striking her head against the wall just right, like some Million Dollar Baby moment, paralyzing her for life.  But she lands safely and scampers off to play.  Delilah has finished her bottle, and is struggling to get from my arms to the floor.  Our brief harmony is over, and so I say to Eden, "Come on, Eden Bear.  Let's go upstairs and get ready for our day."

"No Momma.  I'm just going to stay down here.  I'm going to watch Dora the Explorer."

"No, no Dora this morning.  You know we don't watch cartoons in the morning, we watch the news.  Come upstairs."

"No Momma."  Delilah is hanging from my arms, laughing at our interaction.  I run her upstairs to my room and set her down, careful to lock the baby gate behind me as I head back down for Eden.  I find Eden in the baby bouncer, her new favorite place to be.  She's so tall that really, once she's in the harness, there's not much for her to do but kneel.  I pull her from the chair and set her down, asking her to come upstairs, but instead she runs into the living room and throws herself onto the floor.  "I'm just going to lay on Ice Bat."

"Eden, it's time to go upstairs."

"No Momma."

"Eden, come upstairs.  Delilah is having a pizza party.  We're going to have a pizza party without you."  This catches her attention, and she runs towards the stairs and climbs anxiously, joining Delilah on my bedroom floor to play with her plastic plates, spoons, and pizza.

I had promised myself when we moved that my room would be my retreat.  I wouldn't allow toys to overtake it, but there, on my neatly made bed I dropped three stuffed animals for the girls to play with while I got dressed.  On my floor, just vacuumed last night, plastic utensils and a toy laptop and a set of animal flashcards and some board books are already strewn, just in the time it took me to go down the hall to get the girls' clothes for the day.  I alternate between straightening the rest of my hair, changing diapers, dressing the girls, dressing myself, and trying to cover the monstrous, stress-induced zit that has erupted between my unkempt eyebrows, all while singing along to the Sesame Street radio station on Pandora and shouting at Eden over and over and over again not to jump on the bed, ironically, while "5 Little Monkeys" plays over the radio.

We make it back downstairs by 7:20.  Eden has refused to wear shorts.  Eden has refused to wear shoes.  But Eden allowed me to brush her hair this morning and I consider this a small victory, earning her the right to go pantsless today.

"Momma, I want Nature Cat."  I look at the clock.  7:22.  I cave.

"One episode of Nature Cat, okay Baby Bear."

I'm now that mom.  No, not the mom that lets her kid watch TV in the morning.  I'm sure there's lots of moms, great moms, that do that.

I'm the mom that can't spend two hours with her children without having to run to the television for help.  I'm the mom who dreads the sound of her children rousing early, before she is ready.  The mom that counts down the minutes before it is time to leave for work, for an escape, only to spend the next 9 hours counting down the minutes until she gets to see her girls again, and then in turn to spend the evening counting down the minutes before it is time to start bedtime routine.  My dogs, my beloved dogs, stare at us longingly from the windows - Sometimes I go days without even touching them so entrenched am I in just getting through the day with my children.

I am the mom who finds on the weekends, her children are strangers to her.  I don't know what to do with them when we are together for a whole day.  Who are they?  What should we play?  What do we talk about?  Is it naptime yet?  How do other women do this, day after day, with a smile on their face?  I feel like such an asshole.  I look to the front door wistfully, wondering if we all wouldn't be better served if I just walked out and never came back.

With a guilty conscience, I snap myself back into the moment and finish packing lunches for the day, and loading my car with the diaper bag, my purse, my own lunch, and a pack of Delilah's diapers that my dad will need for her care this week.  Eden refuses one of my requests and as a consequence, I turn off Nature Cat before the episode is complete.  I take Delilah to the car and plead with Eden to follow me.  She won't, but instead climbs back into the bouncer, so I run back inside, lift her out, and carry her to the car, no pants, no shoes, but grateful for the attached garage so that I don't have to feel so very bad about having left Delilah for a few seconds.  Life was easier when she was in the carrier and I could just drag them both out together, but, ob la di ob la da, right?

"Momma, I want Delilah's Song," Eden requests from the back seat.

"Not today,"  I respond and begin clicking through the radio stations as we drive.  I'm searching for some song to make my morning.  I know that with today's technology I can just click over to my USB drive and play something from there, or stream a song that I know and love.  But I want to the song to be brought to me, some sign from the universe that everything will be okay.  I drop the girls off at Papa's house where the patience for them is greater, the hands on deck more plentiful, and besides, Delilah is almost ready for a nap, giving a slight reprieve to their caretaker.  I get back in my car, still searching the radio, through the local stations, through Sirius radio, looking for something to soften the blow of the morning.  Hundreds of radio stations are available to me at my fingertips, but nothing suffices.  I land on an old default karaoke song, Patty Loveless' "Blame It On Your Heart," but today I just don't feel like shouting about someone's lying, cheating, cold deadbeating, two-timing, double-dealing, mean, mistreating, loving heart.  I settle instead for the "Loco-Motion," the Grand Funk Railroad version, though I would have preferred Little Eva or Kylie Minogue.

These are the first moments to myself that I have had since I woke up, yet I've felt so alone the whole time.  I'm lonely - In the evenings as I march through the monotony of the work week, on the weekends as I try to find ways to interact with my girls while we are all cooped up inside to avoid the 100+ degree heat and smokey air hovering from a local wildfire.  I know that life changes when you have kids, and I know that I longed for these girls, ached for them.  Imagine my surprise when they didn't provide all of the answers, but instead caused me to have to look even deeper into my soul on a quest for - What?  I don't know anymore.  I'm drowning. I feel the waves threatening me, so real that while stopped at a red light I tilt my head up towards the imaginary surface so that I can breathe.  Green light.  Go.

I am at my office early.  I was the first to arrive on this dreadful day - The day our new case management system is launched firm-wide, causing guaranteed disarray in each of our 15 offices throughout the state.  Clients will call, annoyed at our inability to smoothly access and work this system, still demanding that we meet their needs in this world of glorified customer service called worker's compensation defense.  My billing, finally falling into place after four years of acclimating to an environment wherein I must account for every minute of the work day, is bound to suffer in this change - even the best attorneys will suffer this.  I know that I should get a head start on the day and aim to get my hours in, but instead I open my web browser, turn to this page, and write.  And write, and write, and write.  And write, and write, and write some more.

And then, it's back to the grind.