Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Dear Mom,

Happy Mother's Day. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out the perfect gift, when it hit me. The best thing I could give you this year is a giant THANK YOU. The best gift is the one of gratitude and appreciation. Because I don't think I thank you enough. I don't think those of us in your life thank you enough.

Mom, in the last eighteen months I've leaned on you more than I have in my entire life. I've needed you in a different way. I've needed you to tend and care for my daughters. Those perfectly spoiled, funny, loving girls. You do realize they adore you, right? Just like I do. But they aren't the easiest people to get along with, much like their mother, and I so appreciate you for caring for them and loving them in a way that sometimes I cannot. Thank you for always being so patient with them, for helping fix mistakes I've made as a mommy, for loving them with everything you have. Did you ever imagine that you would have the capacity to love this much? In the same way you loved me, but with more of the best parts of you. It's amazing to see.

I really don't know how you did it. Raising a child like me. With all my neurosis, ticks, worries, and dramatics. How did you get yourself to work everyday all those years I was so sick? The years I refused to eat anything in fear of being in pain. How were you able to get me to school and yourself to work, on time, every day? I can't even function when my kids are sick or in pain. I spent years in pain, not knowing what my diet should be, blowing out candles on cakes I could never eat; and there you were, strong and supportive. How did you do that? How did you keep it all together? I guess it's just a small example of the kind of woman and mother you are.

You rarely take credit for being an incredible mother. You always say that you had help, or that you only had one child to worry about, but let's be honest. As the oldest child in your family, I was rarely your only worry. Thank you for setting such an amazing example of a working mother. It wasn't perfect by any means, but I'm still so inspired on how you did it. Sure we ate our dinners in the car a lot, we ran errands together, you took me to see movies that probably weren't the most appropriate for a kid, but thank you anyway. Thank you for letting me tag along.

In recent years I've read an article or two about Mothers and Daughters. Articles that say that Mothers and Daughters shouldn't be best friends. That as a mother you are there to be the authority figure, the one who sets the rules, the one who manages the lives of the children. And I get that to a point. As a mother, I'm supposed to be the authority figure. I'm not supposed to give in, I'm not supposed to let my kids walk all over me, and for the most part I don't. And if my memory serves you never did either, yet I consider you my best friend. You were always the one person I wanted to be around the most. That still holds true today. I loved all those trips to the bookstore. All the errands we ran for Grandma or Dad. Spending all those Saturdays when I was in college going to lunch or shopping. Sure I could have gone with my sorority sisters, but I missed you. I missed living at home and watching movies late into the night with you on the couch in our jammies. I want to be best friends with my girls. I want to bake cookies or biscuits at eleven on a Friday night while we watch Jimmy Fallon, even if they shouldn't hear half of what he says. I want to watch SNL with them when they are teenagers and eat popcorn and M&Ms on the couch. I want those things because they are some of my favorite memories with you. And I want that for them. Thank you for teaching me that I can be best friends with my daughters while also being a fantastic mother.

Thank you, Mom. Thank you for raising me your own way, a way that all the parenting books would frown upon now. Thank you for introducing me to books and pop culture. Thank you for letting me watch TV for more hours than are humanly possible. Thank you for working and setting such a strong example of what working moms look like. Thank you for being a feminist and inspiring me to make choices, to own those choices. Thank you for letting me try things and fail, and then try things and fly. Thank you for always telling me that I could do anything, be anything, and love anyone. Thank you for setting boundaries that had movable borders. Thank you for being patient, kind, loving, trusting, and honest. Thank your loving me always and anyway.

But mostly thank you for giving me life. And I mean that in every sense of the word.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. You are truly the Patron Saint of Mothers. 

Sexy Undies on Laundry Day

A few weeks ago, I wore sexy undies on laundry day. It was a rookie mistake, because after all these years I should know better. Wearing sexy undies on laundry day, solidified the fact that I would have to have sex with my husband and fold laundry on the same day. How could I let this happen?

I'm sure I'm not alone in this. I'm sure this has happened to you? Or maybe you are the kind of gal who never gave up her sexy undies when she got older or became a mom. Maybe you still enjoy the look and feel of sexy undies. Me? Not so much. Somewhere around the second trimester when I was pregnant with Caitlin, I had to put all those thongs in the back of the drawer. I didn't even want to wear pants, let alone have a piece of string going up my butt. At the time I was pretty sure that one day, I'd find them in the back of the drawer and think I'd want to wear them again. That I would one day be in a position where I would worry about panty lines and maybe even begin feeling sexy again. Then the baby came and I had to wear pads bigger than my newborn. All sense of modesty was lost. It was going to be granny-full-coverage undies from here on out. Plus, I couldn't even fit in those old thongs if I wanted to. It seemed as if they were part of some freaky doll clothes lingerie collection. Was I ever that small?

Since becoming a mom, I've taken the easy road, paved with full coverage cotton panties. They are from Victoria's Secret, but they are basically granny panties. Funny thing is that I really don't give a single fuck. The Hubbs whines about how boring they are, where is the lace, where is the satin? I'm forced to point out the neon color which is a whole hell of a lot better than basic white, but he just rolls his eyes. He gives me that look that roughly translates to, "This is my life now". I didn't mean to become a boring panty person, it just happened.

Over the years I've gotten smart. I've built a substantial stock pile of undies. Because laundry is always the last priority in this house. That's why my kid has two spirit day shirts. That's why both kids have enough clothes and undies themselves to last two weeks. Do my bath towels look old, it's because they are, and I have enough to last a lifetime as well. Because, laundry. Because for whatever reason, it just won't do itself.

It's been awhile since I've had to worry about running out of undies, but then I started working again and that has meant that laundry really hasn't been getting done. Then you factor in the fact that I only buy panties once a year, on my birthday. Usually because I get a bra coupon to use at Victoria's Secret, and since I'm there, I add on the five for whatever cotton undies. Women's lingerie is expensive, and when you go from buying the best to having to buy diapers, then pull-ups then a four pack of undies tattooed with Elsa from Frozen, your "needs" get put on the back burner. Cute undies for me hasn't been a necessity in years, but clean ones? That is mandatory.

Imagine my surprise when I found myself a few weeks ago faced with zero clean ones. I looked everywhere. I even brought out the ones that don't really fit, but I have them anyway for emergencies. Now I was way past emergency and on the cusp of wearing the sexy ones. The ones that are reserved for never. The ones that never see the light of day, because let's be honest, who has the time. And personally, I want to meet the person who invented something called a "cheekster". Because who's the lady that was all, "Fabric up my ass for eight hours? Yes, please". Does she even exist?

I spent an entire day wiggling around trying to think about anything else but the extra fabric in my undercarriage. Then it hit me, not only would I have to do laundry when I got home, but I'd also have to have sex with my husband if he had any idea that I was wearing underwear that never sees the light of day.

Oh. Shit.

Look, it's not that I don't like to have sex with my husband, I do I swear. I'm sure if he were here, he would tell you that I roll my eyes when ever he brings up the subject. I like sex. I like my husband. I like orgasms. But some days, I like sleep more. Some days all I have is enough to get the kids out of bed and to school. To get dinner ready, and to read books with the girls before bed. Some days the best I can do is putting seventeen pairs of my undies in the washing machine, then moving them to the dryer and then leaving them their until the next person does laundry. Orgasms are great. My husband is great. And if that is all that I had to do, we'd be one amazingly happy couple. But that's not the way life goes. I'm not a frigid bitch, but I had to really think about which activity I'd like to do more that day. Laundry or sex. Because I'm sorry but there was no way I was going to have sex and fold laundry. I told the husband not to make me choose, because I'm pretty sure he wasn't going to like the answer. Some days, I think I'd rather fold laundry then have to show off my sexy drawers.

Don't feel sorry for me. I didn't have to fold or have sex that day. And guess what? Everyone lived happily ever after. For the moment.

No more bad cop {I quit the fashion police}

About three weeks ago I did something revolutionary. Something so far out of my comfort zone I still get the sweats when I have to deal with it. Yet, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made...

I quit the fashion police.

Three weeks ago, my voice hoarse from yelling at the little humans in my house to get ready for school, I realized that we were fighting over the most bullshit of reasons. We were yelling and crying and throwing jeans in the air, because we couldn't agree on what to wear to school. Lame. One hundred and ten percent LAME.

I stopped and asked myself a few questions:

1 - Will mixing patterns really kill anyone? Will they spread disease? Will they bother anyone else in the world except me, the mother?

2- Do I really care what other parents think of me when my kids wear stained clothes? Will I really be offended if they think we are slobs and never do laundry since my daughter has decided to wear the same t-shirt to school for three days in a row?

3 - Will I be inconvenienced if my daughter wears sweats to school when the forecast says it will be ninety degrees? And conversely, will it bother me if she wears shorts in the rain?

4 - Is anyone dying? Bleeding?

My answers astonished me. No one was bleeding or dying. Mixing patterns was only hurting me. And who the hell cares if the parents at school stare at me. They stare at me all the time, usually because I'm not wearing any makeup and my hair is two days past a wash. I finally realized that fighting about clothes was a mom made disaster. I was creating this shit storm myself. So they want to wear shorts in the rain? Let them. They will learn that lesson the hard way. Caitlin wants to wear stripes and hearts and a leopard print sweater... Let her. I had to let all that InStyle Magazine bullshit I'd been reading for years go. Who am I? Not Anna Wintour. Will the school call if Mackenzie is wearing that same faded dress she just can't quit? No. They could give a shit. So why do I?

I care because I really thought I was going to be the editor of Vogue when I became an adult. I had big plans to move to New York and be a fashion designer slash fashion magazine editor. I have been following trends since I noticed Mr. Blackwell's list in People Magazine when I was seven. Ask my mother and she will tell you that I had to have a white plush robe at age nine after I saw Sally wearing one in When Harry Met Sally. Then I asked for espadrilles for my twelfth birthday after I saw Princess Diana wearing them in an US Weekly. So as I've become an adult, I've favored the latest fashions. You can't tell now, since I've become a mom a lot of the fashionable stuff has gone out the window, but back in the day? I used every single penny to buy clothes.

That's why I have the hardest time when the girls "don't match". When they wear colors that don't compliment. When they mix patterns, my anxiety gets the best of me. When they can't figure out what to wear on their own, but then refuse what I pick, I lose my mind. Then our morning turns upside down when everyone yells and cries and any ability to "even" is lost.

So three weeks ago, I threw my hands in the air and said, "wear whatever you want, as long as your butt is covered". I forced myself to bite my tongue and look the other way. Sweats were worn with sandals. Shorts and long sleeved shirts with kitten heeled slingbacks. Knee high socks and shorts with over sized sweatshirts. Faded shirts with faded leggings and Ugg style boots in eighty degrees.

But I said nothing. I am still saying nothing. The rule remains, butts and boobies covered. Can it really be that easy? Can I really throw out all I've learned from all those magazines? I have to. Giving up my patrol on the fashion police has made for some really pleasant mornings. We are happier people, and they are happy with their own interpretation of fashion. Fine, good, great! All great artists have to start somewhere, right?

I still have my moments. I still yell, because for some reason we can't get that "covered butt" rule down some days. And we still have the same arguments over shoes and why we can't wear wedge slingbacks on PE day. All that aside, I don't want to be bad cop anymore. Bad cop is no fun. Bad cop goes to work with mascara streaks and stress eats potato chips.

I quit the fashion police. My children are happier, I'm happier, and our mornings are so much brighter. Although that may have something to do with the neon shirts that are being paired with the leopard print shorts.  

ten years

Dear Husband,

Ten years ago today I put on my white dress and veil and met you in that little church you just had to get married in. The one all our friends said would immediately go up in flames as soon as the two of us walked in. They thought they were so funny. We walked in that church. We did the thing. You made an honest woman out of me, and I? Well I finally married the guy. The one. That guy that I had been waiting for since I saw Sixteen Candles at seven years old. Don't laugh, no matter what you think these days, you have always been my first choice. You were the one I ran back to, not once, not twice, but three times. You were the one I held out for, held my breath for. I know. It doesn't seem that way now, but I really did. I really do. Still to this day I wake up in a panic after dreaming that I'm back in college and you're not returning my phone calls... Then I notice the two kids in our bed and all is right with the world again. But in case you still don't believe me, let me refresh your memory.

We met on a Friday night. It was sweltering in late July, and for so many reason I did not want to go to that party at Patty and Danielle's. But Lauren made me because she said I couldn't sit around and mope at home on a Friday night. I went, just to be supportive, and just to show I was against the entire thing as a whole, I wore hat, minimal make up, and a tank top I'd bought at a Santa Cruz thrift shop my last year of high school. I was at that party no more than twenty minutes when you walked in, fresh off your important wireless company job. I didn't know that then, I just saw you all dressed up in your mandarin collar and Clooney hair cut, and wondered, Who invited this guy? On my way out for a beer run I smiled at you and you gave no reaction at all. So I commented, "Who died?", and I think I threw you off. Upon my return from said beer run you said, "Nice hat", and I knew you were exactly the person I should be hanging out with at the party, but I stayed with my group of a good while.

What I didn't know then, but I know now, is that we were the two least likely people to fall in love. I was post break up, you were way past serious relationships. I felt like I was on a time table for love and romance, and you had no desire to reestablish the word "girlfriend" into your vernacular. No matter, there we were, acting like assholes to each other because I guess we both thought, if I can get this person to hate me, I won't have to admit that I like them. It was pretty much love at first sight.

We spent the first semester of my senior year at Fresno State ignoring the obvious. I was freshly twenty one and you taught me the importance of social drinking. You taught me how to have fun again. I loved those nights that we just sat in a bar and drank, getting to know one another, but not too much for fear we'd fall, but slowly we did fall. I let go first, then you, and we tumbled into a place so scary and uncomfortable we (actually, me) ran. I did. I ran the first time. Because I was so afraid you would say, "no", if I asked if you could love me back. My heart could not take it, so I ran.

On a side note, I still should have taken you to formal that semester. You should have said no to that other girl. Just my opinion. Also I should have gone solo, but my pride. Oh my pride just couldn't stand it.

We spent the spring semester on the edges of the obvious. We'd see each other at a party. We'd run into each other on campus. You'd call me at work, or when you knew I was in class. Leaving me voice mails. I got an email that Valentine's Day from you, just saying that we should hang out soon. There was a party soon, something so non threatening, as to ignore the fact that we missed each other so damn much. And then I gave in. That night we went out as friends, just to get some drinks. We weren't even drunk, just high on nerves and anticipation. You offered to drive me home, and I simply said I'd rather go home with you. So, we went.

We became so tangled that semester. Never coming up for air. Staying in on Saturday nights, watching movies and SNL, walking to get beer in the warm spring air. I'd tell you I had to study, and you'd tell me to do it at your place. We found that comfortable place where we didn't have to fill the spaces with words or actions. We could just be. Before we knew it, it was summer and we filled our days and nights with each other. I was happy and you were too, and for the first time it felt real. Like a real relationship. But it didn't last.

With the fall came the break up. We were just too serious. I wanted it all. I wanted the ring and the commitment. I wanted all of you and all your time. And you didn't want to feel. You just wouldn't admit how serious this was becoming. So you ran. Fast and swift. It was over before I could catch my breath.

I went through all the scenarios in my head. I looked for ways to catch your attention. I walked the routes I  knew you would walk on campus. I went to the same bars on the same nights. I actively ignored you as if you would notice. I spent the winter mourning the relationship, drowning my sorrows every night of the week, binge watching law and order before people really binge watched TV. And I waited. I waited for your call.

And you called. And I did my best to play it cool. But I wasn't, because I was back to you in less than five days. We rushed. We rushed into it. We set no boundaries. As you moved closer to graduation, and I spent my days working, as we drifted further and further apart. But every time we talked about breaking up, we just couldn't. It's not what we really wanted. And so we fought. We left each other in bars. We threw drinks at each other, and didn't call each other. And I was so mad because I thought we were done. I thought we were through. And we almost were.

We found our way back that summer. By Thanksgiving you were back, one hundred percent, as we worked though our fears and our issues. But they would crop up again. I would play the marriage card, I would in act time lines you were never going to follow. We'd spend the next few years watching everyone couple up and marry. We'd save our money and buy our first home, while you were in Alaska no less. You came home from a six week stint working in the frozen tundra to a "new" to us house with old furniture. And again, we'd still fight over boundaries and rings and why the hell weren't we getting married?

But we did. You even went the old fashioned, Alex P. Keaton route and asked my Dad if you could marry me. For some reason that is one of my favorite things about you. I never thought I'd marry a man who would ask. I never even knew I wanted to marry someone who would ask. I ruined my own proposal, I didn't want to go out of town or out to dinner for that matter. It makes sense as we are not the "big proposal" type. My proposal was perfect, I was tired and pissy, and you were fucking fed up with my ass, so you got down on one knee outside our half bath in that tiny shit hole of a house. It's so damn poetic, I can't stand it. and that is not sarcasm, that's the truth.

We married. We did the thing. A year and a half later we bought a bigger house and about nine months after that we became parents. That's when all this shit got real. I spent five years trying to convince you to love me and marry me, and that is cracker jack in comparison to what we have to live through now. This parenting shit is hard. So hard, that it makes our marriage hard. But we do hard John Crutchfield. The mess and the chaos is where we thrive. How bored we would be if we just agreed on everything. What would we do for fun if we couldn't talk shit to each other or argue over politics or religion or the Kardashians? And what the hell would we do without these kids? We would be so bored. Oh sure, we'd probably go to Cancun or Hawaii two times a year, but we'd get sick of each other and be stuck without little buffers to lighten the mood. You know I'm right.

Here's the thing. You think I'm not happy here. In this life we've made these last ten years. It's so far from the truth it makes me want to cut you. But I understand. I'm not always easy to live with. I complain. I have pity parties. Some days I don't want to be touched. I don't want you to grab my boobs while I cook dinner. I don't want to hang out in the garage with the neighbors, I just want to watch some Grey's Anatomy. I'm sorry. I'm sorry that sometimes you're not the first priority. I'm sorry that sometimes I really don't want to have sex. I'm sorry that most nights I'd rather sleep. I'm sorry that I don't fight as hard as I used to, but that's what happens when you are comfortable. You don't think you have to fight anymore. Because the comfort feels good and it feels right.

It feels like I've fought for you and this relationship for so long. Would it be crazy to say that I just want to live? I want to live this life with you and be comfortable. I want to live this life with you and be happy. I don't want to be anywhere else. I want to be right here, with you, and the kids, and I want to relax. We don't have to fight so hard anymore. I'm right here. I've been right here the entire time. I waited for you. I held my breath for you. I don't need sweeping romantic gestures, I just need you, dummy. I've always just needed you. Sure I've take you for granted. Sure I've pushed you away when I'm in a funk. And I will always take my shitty days out on you. But you knew that. None of my bitchiness is new. In fact you should find comfort in it.

It's been ten years since I walked down that aisle. I wasn't even nervous. I knew. I had know all along that this was the place I had always wanted to be. Still after ten years of marriage, by your side is where I've wanted to be all along. Even when I'm hangry, tired, and PMSing, it's always been you.

It will always be you.

Happy Anniversary, Crutch. 

I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five {Mac turns 5}

I find myself in a land of cliches as my baby turns five today. I want to talk about how time flies and that if you blink you'll miss it. In all honesty it doesn't seem that long ago that I was pregnant with Mackenzie. That the Hubbs and I were still arguing over her name, that I was still sick despite my entrance into the second and then third trimester. The memory of her "birth day" is still so fresh in my mind, and yet so far away. It is as if I've blinked and we have landed here, at five.

Mac's fourth year was so full of wonder and discovery. She is so aware of the world, and so very logical about it. Nothing is missed by my Miss Mac, even when you try to lie or white lie, she will seek you out and cross examine you better than any attorney. We will never pull a fast one on her. This past year she learned her letters and her numbers. She became aware of words and books. She has fallen in love with drawing and storytelling. She loves music and card games. This was the year Mac decided she wanted long hair, the first time she demanded clothes without ruffles, and has on occasion put toys back at Target, so she could buy shoes or clothes. She discovered the magic of secrets at Christmas time. This year she went from my toddling baby to a fun loving, adventure seeking girl.

Still I look at her and see my baby. Her hands are still impossibly small, just grazing the tops of my palms when she sets her hand in mine. I can still pick her up, but just barely. Her little noodle arms still wrap tightly around my neck. She still needs to rub my ear when she falls asleep at night, and I can't deny her that need. I can't stop picking her up or snuggling her neck, because I know all too well that one day she will be too big to lift. To big to fit in that place in my lap that seems carved out just for her. On a recent night, as we laid in her bed, she asked me to sing to her, which is just cruel on all accounts since my voice is horrible. But I indulged her with a song I sang to her as a baby, a Lemonheads cover of Frank Mills, that for some reason I still remember from my freshman year in high school. It's always seemed like a sad song about a lost friend, and at the end she quietly said, "I don't want to grow up Mommy". And I cried a little because she gets what I already know, that this time with her, as this tiny little human, is fleeting. She will always be my baby and there are so many adventures on the horizon, but she will only be this small and this too-insightful-for-an-almost-five-year-old, just once. How does she know that?

Her smile can stop time and her laugh is infectious. She has a sense of humor rarely found in a child her age, and will laugh and repeat jokes if she knows they will make you laugh. Those are things you cannot teach, those are the things that come with you when you are born. I watch her and think, how did I get this lucky? But like with most things in life, right time, right place, right heart.

The best thing about Mac turning five, she understands numbers and values. For a full month she would tell me, "I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five", and I would say, "I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five times a billion". Then we would just giggle, and try to out number each other. We would come up with crazy combinations, but none could ever hold the value or express the right amount of love because this kind of love is unmeasurable.

This kind of love lives somewhere between here and infinity.

Happy Birthday Mac, Mommy loves you one hundred and fifty four seven five. And many more.