suburban adventures in bu-curious mothering

Tag: marriage

dear mother’s day,

Dear Mother’s Day,

Thanks for coming around every year. That said, today it was really hard to welcome you with open arms.

You see, my husband has been traveling for the past eight days, and my single mothering skills this week leading up to you have been simultaneously heroic and tragic.

I spent most nights with several small people littering my bed, waking hourly to remove an elbowfrom my neck, to listen to the ramblings of a night mumbler, or to log roll sweaty bodies toward the opposite side of the mattress.

I spent too many wee hours alone in my family room watching Game of Thrones, Season 3, surely contributing to the 4-day string of nightmares about zombies, vaginas, and pooping in public.

I spent five long, but wonderful, days teaching meditation full-time at the neighborhood elementary school, returning home to empty cabinets, a sink full of breakfast dishes, and a growing stack of unopened mail.

I spent two late evenings out, one at a fundraiser in the city, and one at town meeting where I casted my vote on various issues, trying my best to listen attentively to debates while nearby town meeting members used the time to take much-needed naps, and others used the time to read magazines and pay bills.

I spent a sunny, warm, spring afternoon wandering aimlessly through town with my kids.

I spent two hours making my daughter’s favorite chowder then accidentally left its creamy, corny contents on the stovetop all night to sour. (Six days later it still sits in my fridge because I do not have the heart to flush an entire vat of chowder down the toilet. If any friends are reading, please come to my house tomorrow and help me with this gut-wrenching deed.)

I spent hours washing and folding loads of laundry.

I spent very little time breaking up fights, because by the grace of God, my children decided to love each other all week long – they must have had mercy on their PMSing, husbandless Mommy, knowing I couldn’t have handled even one melt down during balls-to-the-wall week.

But their mercy shriveled up abruptly on Saturday at 11am, when the three children living in my house decided to turn heathen. I won’t bore you with details, but my kids were so annoying and so irritable, and I was so exhausted and so spent, that the perfect storm materialized right here in my house. A rogue wave of dysfunction. “Turn around for Christ sake! Billy, can ya hear me? You’re headed right for the middle of the monster!” And down we went.

I was splayed on the mudroom floor, teeth clenched, cramming an uncooperative Converse All-Star onto an uncooperative 5 year old’s foot, when my smiling, sweet mother came to the back door to pick us all up for an outing. I offered her no smile in return, no “so happy to see you,” no warm embrace. My bloodshot eyes met hers from behind my unwashed greying bangs, and I announced my defeat: “This is the worst hour of my life.” And from there I just couldn’t turn my ship around.

By 5:00 that day, I was crying on my mother’s shoulder as she reminded me that tomorrow could only be better. Tomorrow. Tomorrow was you, Mother’s Day. Now you’re today. Coming to force me to feel grateful for homemade cards and quirky poems and burned pancakes in bed.

Oh, Mother’s Day, why did you have to come this weekend? Why? I would have so much preferred you to come another time. I hate feeling forced to be grateful. Of course there were a few savory highlights – a lingering hug from my son, a heartfelt message from my stepdaughter, a five minute nap outside on the patio – but for the most part it was just another day of scraped knees and dirty dishes layered upon a too-tired-to-think-straight-never-mind-feel-grateful-you’re-here Mom.

So. It’s 9:53 on Sunday night. And I am writing my annual Mother’s Day letter. I wish I could report a 180 to you, Mother’s Day, some sort of deeply inspired tale of perfect reconciliation, like the ones mommy bloggers conjure up for Huff Po. But what can I say? Some years, Mother’s Day, you suck. Some years, I want you to burn like my pancakes did this morning. Some years, I’m not in the mood to be honored, or to be grateful for being honored. And that’s okay. Mother’s Day, you can’t get a five-star rating every year. But I’m glad you always show up regardless. If only to give me an excuse to underperform on Father’s Day.

Your grateful (but sort of ungrateful) friend,

Wishing all of my Mommy friends peace this Mother’s Day, and know that if yours was mediocre at best, you’re not alone.

hi, it’s vanessa. where are you?????


The clock in my kitchen is my go-to for all my timely needs.  There are other clocks around the house, but for some reason I always consult the kitchen clock for accurate time.  Oddly enough, the five minute intervals read “now” instead of numbers, so time telling is a two step translation process – a process that perhaps took the edge off last night as I was watching that minute hand in orbit, converting “nows” into numbers, waiting for my husband to come home after work.

We were all hungry, dinner was hot.  Around 6:0o I called him four times in quick succession.  I thought the intensity of my effort might encourage him to pick up, mentally willing him with every ring.  No dice.

So finally at 7:00 I sat the crew down to eat.  Dinner was typical.  The girls chowed down while my son staged a sit-in across the kitchen.  We ate the last half of our meal in intentional silence, doing our best to focus on chewing and tasting.  In the silence I had a hard time focusing on anything really.  Well, anything but this:  Where the hell is my husband???

As the “nows” accumulated, one nagging, irrational thought snagged its claws on my otherwise typical thoughts.  If he got into an accident, the hospital would have called me, right?  Would I have a sixth sense if he was dead?  Would I just know?  He’s not dead, though.  But he could be.  No.  Could he be?  I’m sure he’s fine.  Maybe I’ll watch a little TV.

The phone finally rang after I put the kids to sleep.  He was fine, enjoying dinner with a friend visiting from out of town.  He had actually told me several times he had plans but I forgot, didn’t write it down, screwed up.  Oops.  All that worrying for nothing.  It’s not as if I didn’t have a gentle reminder telling me to be here and “now”.  Jeez.

The scene brought to mind of a poem I heard by Richard Blanco on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  I pulled this off of NPR’s transcripts, so I’m guessing how the stanzas might be broken up.  Enjoy…


Killing Mark, by Poet Richard Blanco

His plane went down over Los Angeles last week, again.

Or was it Long Island?

Boxer shorts, hair gel, his toothbrush washed up on the shore of New Haven, but his body never recovered, I feared.

Monday he cut off his leg chain-sawing. Bleed to death slowly while I was shopping for a new lamp.

Never heard my messages on his cell phone.

Where are you? Call me.

I told him to be careful.

He never listens.

Tonight, 15 minutes late. I’m sure he’s hit a moose on Route 26.

But maybe he survived.

Someone from the hospital will call me, give me his room number. I’ll bring his pajamas and some magazines.

5:25, still no phone call.

Voice mail full.

I turn on the news, wait for the report. Flashes of moose blood, his car mangled, as I buzz around the bedroom dusting the furniture, sorting the sock drawer.

By 7:30, I’m taking mental notes for his eulogy, suddenly adoring all I’ve hated, 10 years worth of nose hairs in the sink, of lost car keys, of chewing too loud and hogging the bed sheets,

when Joy yowls.  Ears to the sound of footsteps up the drive and darts to the doorway,

I follow with a scowl: Where the hell were you? Couldn’t you call?

Translation. I die each time I kill you.


From mine to yours,


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