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Mother’s Day snuck its way in subtly this year, and a bit earlier than usual. For a myriad of reasons it’s historically been a very hit or miss day for me emotionally. It’s unavoidable, but I try not to let it destroy ym ability to function, the result being anywhere from hermitting under the covers all day while my husband flips through funny movies to breaking down in the middle of a wedding reception. But that was before Good Girl, which dealt with both my guilt and grief over my mo’s death almost 20 years ago and the constantly evolving acceptance and mourning of pregnancy loss and knowing it’s unlikely I’ll be a mom. This year, as I’ve stated many ties since December, is different.
My posts about healing have taught me not to expect the same responses to even long recurring events in my life. Enter, Mother’s Day. I didn’t really know how it would hit me, so I had no idea how to begin to process emotions as they ebbed. I felt it coming, but it wasn’t the normal overbearing weight I’m used to, so I waited patiently for my body to tell me what it needed.
Last night I found myself in Spokane, WA, where I laughed and got a little tipsy with new friends. We talked about different issues in our lives, and I was able to begin to sort out different currents of emotion running through me. This wasnt a river of sadness, it was a mixture of different feelings ranging from sadness to gratefulness. I felt ok about things. A little lonely and down, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

This morning I woke up early feeling isolated from myself, and reaching out I found that most of my support system was busy, unavailable, or having their own issues. I really was alone. It hurt, and for a moment I let myself slide into darkness, but I forced myself up and went outside.

If you’ve never been to Spokane, go. It’s beautiful. I found myself walking by a series of waterfalls through a park, and I began to sing and old river chant to myself. As I stood on a bridge overlooking the falls it hit e all at once. The flood. Right there in a public park I bawled like a baby behind my sunglasses. Then it was over, and I realized that this year the grief is not the focus of my being. It’s there in the background, and every once in a while it strikes, takes my breath away, and recedes because it wants to be acknowledged. Not overpowered, not surrendered to, but acknowledged. It wants symbiosis.

A river, my river. It has its ebbs and flows, but it’s very controlled in its rage, and that’s what makes it powerful. This grief doesn’t have to make me weak. It doesn’t have to make me stop. It just has to happen. That doesn’t mean it won’t flood sometimes, but for the most part being a part of my river allows it to run on my terms.

So back to the healing. What’s been bothering me without my knowing it is this feeling that to heal is to abandon. My mom. My babies. My future. My past. Here in the present, it felt like moving forward was leaving them all behind.This river reminds me that it isn’t true. Nothing is ever abandoned, it just becomes a part of the flow.

I had my moment, then I put my phone on airplane mode to avoid any incoming negativity and took control of my day. I found a comic book store for Free Comic Book Day, Auntie’s Books and Uncle’s Games, and a pop up punk rock concert in a parking lot. I avoided the Trump rally despite having to deal with two men hitting on me holding support signs. I walked through parks and trails. I took a million and one pictures of waterfalls. I rode a gondola over the big falls by myself and didn’t have a panic attack as it dangled me precariously over the water. Why? Because was able to recognize the beauty and power in that river matching my own.

I can’t say Mother’s Day this year won’t be sad. I can’t say the tears and keening isn’t over. I don’t think it ever is. What’s also there is the rock solid support of my healing and the growth I continue to navigate, and that’s what makes it different. I’ve jumped in my river, made my peace with it, and am beginning to understand its power and beauty.


Go now, find your river.

As I approach 30 I find myself doing a lot of soul-searching and self-analysis.  This has led me to face a lot of the shadows in my past.  Some of them I created, some of them I used to hide bad memories or mistakes, and some are just a part of life.  However, all of them, when left unchecked, have the potential to grow and overtake the light in my spirit.  Indeed, at one time or another each of them has, resulting in imbalances that often took a very serious toll on my life and those around me.  As I begin to embrace 30 I also begin to address these shadows, clean what I can from the darkness, and accept them as a part of me rather than avoid them as blights.  Each one has made me who I am today, and each one continues to me an opportunity to grow as a person.

This Mother’s Day we took Hubby’s mom to the zoo.  The day before that I spent with friends and their young daughter.  I had my moments of grief and loss, of nostalgia and loneliness, and even of regret that I hadn’t holed myself up all weekend, but by the end of last night I was happy for the experience and the new clarity it gave me as I move forward.  With that clarity came messages to three generations of who I am. 

To My Mother:

I’m sorry.  For all the things a child cannot articulate.  For all the opportunities to tell you I loved you, to hug you, to spend a day with you that went empty.  For the places in my life where you tried to teach me better only to have me forget or ignore the lessons.  For letting myself hold on for so long to losing you instead of the memories of who you were.  For not having the chance to have an adult Mother-Daughter relationship with the most important person who has ever loved me; the one who loved me enough to give me a chance at life.  I will never take that gift for granted again. Thank you. For continuing to teach me those lessons.  I see you more and more inside me every year, and there are days when I can’t fathom how you managed all that you did with a smile on your face and a song in your heart.  You sacrificed more for me than I will ever truly understand.  You loved even when it hurt, you fought for what you believed in, and you followed the path that felt right for you no matter who tried to tell you otherwise.  There have been so many times in my life when I’ve missed you and longed for your advice.  Thank you for that model.  Forgive me if I’m struggling to do as well as you did.

To My Unborn Child:

I may have never held you in my arms, but you are always in my heart.  I’m sorry.  For not being able to protect you.  For not being able to give you a life.  For being scared and unprepared.  Thank you. For giving me a reason to keep going through one of the darkest points of my life.  For still giving me hope that someday I will be a good Mommy.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you and wonder what my life would be like now with you in it.

And finally,

To Myself:

I’m sorry.   For letting you carry this weight on your own for so long.  For abusing and neglecting you.  For the resentment and the guilt.  For never telling you that you were not to blame, that you did everything you could with what you had, and that you were loved.  For leaving you alone in the darkness and depression, hoping you’d eventually just fade away.  Thank you.   For not giving up.  For having the faith I could not.  For being strong, beautiful, and even happy at times despite me.  For believing in us and knowing someday I would come around.  With you on my side I know I can accomplish anything.

There it is, friends.  One of the hardest letters I’ve ever had to write.  Two phrases that far too often go unsaid to our parents, our children, and ourselves.


Go now, be at peace.

English: Feeding the Giraffes at Miami Metro Zoo

My mom used to love to feed the giraffes at the zoo.  She couldn’t see them, but she knew they were there, and she loved the experience.  Looking back, my mother had that spirit in all areas of her life.

I can not remember a single challenge or occasion in life my mother didn’t rise to.  When she lost her site she learned braille and newborn care in the dark.  She got a Guide Dog and eventually a job teaching computers to the blind.  I have days when I can barely remember how to tie my shoes, but this woman thrived no matter what was thrown at her.  This is what I remember when I feel like I just can’t fight anymore.  That my mother did not just survive her life. She lived it.  

When faced with significant things like motherhood and love she dedicated all that she had to give, and she never turned down a friend in need.  At times it let people take advantage of her kindness, but it never stopped her.  If she could help, she did.  If she couldn’t help directly, she found a way.  I grew up knowing my mother loved me and would give anything for me to have a good life and a happy heart.  I never knew anything other than acceptance and support, never doubted she believed in me, and that unconditional love has carried me through many points in my life where I’ve veered from the beaten path to find myself.

What else has my mother’s spirit lived on to each me?  That no matter how hard things get it’s always alright to laugh, to play, and to dream.  As a kid I watched my mom bowl, play Frisbee, and beat the pants off of everybody at Monopoly.  She decorated a giant tree every year for Christmas, dusted around ridiculous decorations at Halloween, and dared to wear pointy little heels to work.  She rode roller coasters and went to concerts, Disneyland, and, yes, the zoo.  Nothing was ever off-limits or too much trouble.  If it sounded like fun, my mom was there before anyone.

Which brings me back to the giraffes.  My mom never had to see them to know they were there and to experience their beauty.  We spend so much of our lives looking for something, and quite often it’s already here waiting to be experienced, waiting to be loved, or waiting to be nurtured.  Sometimes I close my eyes and the world becomes a very different place, one with more potential than I can see with my eyes.  It’s all so very simple, but it’s something many of us spend our entire lives trying to learn.  My mother knew. If you hold the food out, the giraffes will come.


Go now, feed your giraffes.

My mother passed away right about that time in a girl’s life when she needs a mother’s guidance.  While there have been innumerable women in my life who have taken me in as their own, there are still some doubts only a mother can quell, some thoughts only a mother can understand, and some decisions only a mother can support.  In the beginning I stumbled, but in the last few years I have learned from my mother in ways I never thought imaginable.  My faith and my memories of her have allowed me to connect with her in ways I had never noticed before.  The part of her that lives inside me teaches and inspires me every day, and every time I look back on a moment in my life when she made an impression on me I smile and remind myself how much I have become who she was shaping me to be all along.  These are the things I have learned from my mother…

  • Smile no matter how much it hurts.  No matter how sick my mother felt or how much pain she was in she very seldom let it show.  She was always present with a smile or a joke, even when she was in the hospital or having a bad day at home.  The thought of her smile the last time I saw her got me through a lot of rough points in my life, most poignantly the two-year illness that left me close to home bound.  I tried every day to remember a reason to smile, and that may have been the only thing to bring my family through the struggle.
  • Stand tall no matter how short you are.  At four-feet and change my mother stood a good head shorter than most people around her, yet she never backed down from anything she deemed important.  Her family meant the world to her, and she would never let anything happen to any of us.  She taught me to be confident in my decisions and strong in my beliefs.  She taught me that sometimes you have to be a little harsh, and she reminded me that it is perfectly acceptable to say “no” sometimes.  When I forget the impossibility of pleasing everybody and the reality that sometimes the facts make people unhappy no matter how nicely I deliver them, this lesson comes back to me sharply.
  • Greet everyone with an open heart.  The house in which I grew up had an extra room in the basement that was larger than my first couple apartments.  There were very few times when there wasn’t someone living in that room.  Whenever a friend, relative, or someone she stumbled across needed a place to stay, my mom would open up our home to make sure they had somewhere to go.  If they were hungry they would join us for dinner.  If they had kids who needed clothes, we would offer things I didn’t need.  No matter who or what it was, my mom was always there to help where she could.  She taught me a lot about giving and not taking what I have for granted, and when I feel like I have lost everything, I remember that I still have everything I need.
  • There is very little a disability can keep you from if you are determined.  Though my mom was blind, there were very few things it stopped her from achieving.  She taught at a local community college, learned to play the piano, bowled, and played Frisbee.  She could sew, cook, and somehow managed to know everything I thought I could get away with.  With a little determination and creativity she found ways to get and do what she wanted, and that fact inspires me every day.
  • There is no truth in fear or doubt.  My mom loved rollercoasters, thrill rides, and acts of sheer nerve.  She wore stiletto heels and miniskirts, and never apologized for it.  She told me once the way to overcome fear or doubt was not to show you have any.  If it doesn’t appear to exist, eventually it won’t.  There are times in my life when I’ve been terrified of the next step, times when I’ve had no idea what to do or how to keep going forward.  It’s these times when I strap on my mental stilettos, but on a confident face, and pretend I have any clue what I’m doing.
  • The light is always there, even if you cannot see it.  Barring that, make your own light.  My mom required the light on to be able to do her makeup.  She also did it in front of the mirror.  Part of it was force of habit from when she had sight.  The rest was merely a comfort.  She knew the light was there.  It made her feel more at ease.  Just after the 1989 earthquake, the bay area had no power for days.  At the time we had someone staying with us, and he remarked that he couldn’t eat in the dark.  My mom’s response was, “make your own light, or starve”.  Like many things that sustain us, just because we can’t see the sun, the stars, or the light within never means it doesn’t exist.  We must find it…or starve.
  • Money does not make the (wo)man.  One of the greatest skills I’ve learned from my mother is how to look, eat, and live like a millionaire on a scrap budget.  It may require a little effort, but it isn’t impossible to be happy or healthy with any budget.  Life is never about having everything we want, it’s about wanting everything we have.  Decisions, choices, and priorities.  Family, love, and experiences.  These things are what make us rich.  With a little ingenuity we can look good and eat well, too.

This post was supposed to come on Mother’s Day, but sometimes life takes priority to writing.  That’s the last of the lessons I’m going to share today.  Things will happen when they’re supposed to, not when you think they should.  Thanks, Mom.  After all these years you are still always right.

Go, now, listen to your mothers.


Short Thoughts

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Books I Recommend

Polyamory Related

  • Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships,  by Tristan Toarmino
  • Love is Not Colorblind: Race and Representation in Polyamorous and Other Alternative Communities,  by Kevin A Patterson
  • More Than Two: A Practical Guide to Ethical Polyamory,  by Franklin Veaux
  • The Polyamory Toolkit, by Dan and Dawn Williams

Fiction With Polyamorous and Other Diverse Representation

  • For Hire: Operator, by Kevin A Patterson and Alana Phelan
  • For Hire: Audition, by Kevin A Patterson and Alana Phelan