Fits & The Starts.

My writing for the past few months is best described as in fits & starts.  The week leading up to Mother’s Day, I was all over it.  I wrote a 9-page letter to my mom.  It’s not even finished.  I reread it today.  It’s garbage.  I think I put pressure on myself to write something for Mother’s Day because that is how this blog began last year.  I’m not sure last year can be topped, which is undoubtedly what I was trying to do.

I am often writing scraps here and there.  I have several Word documents saved that may never see the Interwebs.  I like to revisit them later to find out if they have any teeth.  It’s kinda fun.

While at work today – desperately trying to write – I decided I would share my recent fits here.  The letter to my mom deteriorated and got into some very personal information, so I will only share part of that.  Not that you would know that without me telling you.  In general, I wish I was writing more that I found worthy of being shared.  I feel weird going so long without posting an entry here.  If it’s any consolation, I am reading my ass off this year.  Still not good enough, but much better than last year.

Welcome to the fits & starts of late Spring 2018:



Dear Mom,

Mother’s Day is this weekend.  It’ll be the first Mother’s Day in years that I haven’t felt obligated to fake it.  Dad gave me a pass for the first Mother’s Day after you died [….] I’m off the hook.  Finally. 

It goes without saying that I wish you were here.  I need advice and support.  Since you aren’t here, I can create a fantasy in which if only you were here, everything would be just right.  I would share openly with you about my troubles and my feelings.  You would listen without judgement and guide me right into the best, most appropriate decision.  Aside from this being completely impossible, even if you were here, it reminds me that I don’t know you at all. 

You were a human being; a woman.  You were also a wife and mother.  Were you completely devoted to those roles?  Would you be horrified to find one of your daughters rejecting motherhood so emphatically?  Would you feel disappointed?  Maybe you would be supportive, either out of love for me or in agreement with [my perception of] motherhood as a bottomless pit of demand, work [….].  Motherhood isn’t even the problem.  That conviction, thankfully, is firm.  I wish I could pinpoint exactly how I figured this out.  I sure could use some clarity. 

It’s the strangest thing. [….] I am guilty of being unrealistic.  I am guilty of confusing assumption with accuracy.  I am guilty of believing a very difficult thing is actually easy and simple.  We all begin as children, though, right?  We all begin empty and fill up over time – hopefully.  I’m nowhere near being full, I hope.  There has to be so much more to learn.  I want more knowledge and more time….



When your mom dies you’re the best memory of her.  Everything you do and say is a memory of her.  –Alice Oswalt

By these standards, I am never doing enough.  I am not actively making my mom proud.  I say “bad” words, I gossip, I judge.  I have a dry sense of humor.  I’m sarcastic and I have been known to laugh at crude jokes, violent jokes.  I am not especially nice or cheerful.  I earned this resting bitch face.  Not unlike Daria Morgandorfer, I only smile if I have a reason. 

While I am worrying about not being a positive memory of my mom, I have to consider that I’m an accurate memory of her.  I believe Lindsay (my sister) is an accurate memory of our mom.  A very important part of our mom is still here because of Lindsay.  She’s a mom.  She’s nurturing, she bakes cookies, she keeps my secrets, she has my back. 

Last week, I wrote a letter to my mom.  I never actually finished it.  It was meant to help me process some things that have been rattling around in my mind.  I’m never able to answer the question, What would mom do? Or What would she tell me to do?  Sometimes getting close to that question is fun.  She’s isn’t here, so I can assume she’d tell me to do what makes me happy.  Or would she tell me to do what I think is best?  That’s different….



When your mom dies you’re the best memory of her.  Everything you do and say is a memory of  her. –Alice Oswalt

I haven’t written many letters to my mom.  They typically transition from some kind of explanation to an apology.  Sometimes the lack of her presence in my life can be seen as an advantage (it helps if you tilt your head when you squint) because I have no idea what her expectations were for me.  Without that, I can pretend that she just wanted me to be happy [….]

The other side of not knowing her expectations for me is the inescapable feeling that I haven’t met them.  I can’t know if/when I’ll meet them.  That means I need to be a truly incredible and good person at all times.  That is pressure.  That is failure.  Already.

More often than not, I consider what I’ve learned about motherhood and mother-child relationships.  Surely she just wanted me to be happy and safe….


And the next thing in the notebook is about the potential dangers of viewing pornography.  No kidding.  As a quick note: I don’t think viewing pornography is dangerous for everyone.  More on that….some other time.

What to take from this entry:  I have been struggling with writing for the past couple of months.  I wanted to post an update.  I wrote these pieces weeks ago, and I couldn’t shake them.  If you’re feeling disappointed, just remember there will eventually be an entry about pornography.  I’m sure you want to stick around for that!

Mother’s Day, 2017


Why I hate Mother’s Day. 05/14/17

When I was 5-6 years old, my mom was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  As a 30-something, that means I can barely remember a time when MS wasn’t a part of my life; when I didn’t know what it is.  Over time, “what MS is” has changed so much, for me, and remained a mystery.

I could go into gory details, right?  I could explain my mom’s decline over the years – over about 17 years.  I could tell you other people’s stories of how they knew something wasn’t right before any diagnosis.  I could tell you what “remission” meant to me as a young girl and how long it took before I realized “remission” was not a gift we would get.  It was not a gift mom would get.

MS is never good.  I would never wish it on anyone.  But, see, there are different varieties.  Some are “luckier” than others.  Many are luckier than my mom was.  Not only did she have the most aggressive, least forgiving type of MS, but she was diagnosed when MS research was still in infancy.  We don’t know much about it now.  We knew even less in the late 80s.  Looking back on everything and listening to others’ stories of what happened and when, my mom’s MS treatment could best be described as, “Let’s just throw all of this at it and hope something helps.”  There is still no cure today, but there are treatments.  There are ways to slow it down or even arrest it, temporarily (sweet remission).  There are treatments that allow those with an MS diagnosis to live full lives of real quality for much longer periods of time than they would have 20 years ago.  I often see, “You don’t look sick” in reference to persons who have MS.  My mom looked “sick.”

It was too late for my mom.  The MS that got her was unrelenting.  Over 17 years, the progression of her MS was all downhill.  I am told and believe I remember the progression slowing down while she was pregnant with my half-sister.  I have read here & there that pregnancy is known to slow MS progression.  When mom was pregnant with my half-sister, I was an ignorant, self-absorbed child.  I really don’t remember the disease progression during those 9 months.

I hope you aren’t still waiting around to read gory details.  They aren’t coming.

My mom passed away in December of 2006.  That reminds me: I’m not terribly cracked up about the Christmas season, either.  Over a period of about 17 years, I watched my mom waste away.  I don’t know how else to describe it.  A slow burn?  Some unusual, long-running trauma?

Since her passing, some Mother’s Days I have spent alone.  Whether anyone else likes it or not, I need to take care of myself on that day.  It’s not personal.  It’s not that I don’t care about any of the other phenomenal “mother figures” I have in my life.  It’s just not the same.  I want my mom on Mother’s Day.  I don’t want to talk about her.  I want to remember her in my thoughts.  I want to take care of myself for her on Mother’s Day.  I want to text my older sister and make that connection to her for mom.  If only for the time it takes to make that exchange with Lindsay, we are both thinking of mom and each other at the same time.  In some weird way, the 3 of us are connected.  And I don’t want anyone else involved in that.  There isn’t room for anyone else in that.

I have spent some Mother’s Days with others.  I should, right?  I know so many incredible women who are mothers and those phenomenal mother figures in my own life who I mentioned earlier.  I can shove my own mom out of my head to be “normal” on Mother’s Day.  Maybe I can spend the whole day not thinking about mom, except when Lindsay & I text about her.  Jesus.  Lindsay is a mother.  I can’t imagine what Mother’s Day is like for her.

I hate shopping for Mother’s Day cards and gifts.  It’s an unfair challenge.  I feel guilty and angry and frustrated.  It is so difficult to do this kind of shopping without my mind wandering into, “If things were different, what would I buy for mom…?”  That is not a good place for my mind to go.  Then I am reminded of how little I know about my mom.  The unfairness of not knowing what questions to ask her when I had the chance.  The unfairness of being a child and, by nature, being self-centered while my time with mom was running out.  The unfairness of being a child and not realizing that our time – her time – was running out.  I took so many things for granted.

After my mom passed away, I heard someone say that on their own birthday every year, they sent flowers to their mom.  What a genius idea.  I don’t get to do that.  I could put flowers on her grave, though, right?  That’s fulfilling (it’s not).

So, I hate Mother’s Day.  I hate advertisements for store sales, brunches, whatever.  I feel so envious of anyone who can go to a Mother’s Day brunch with their mom.  I don’t like “mom and me” activities.  I know I did activities with my mom, but I don’t think we ever wore matching outfits.  I know we never got our nails done together, we never bought/shared make-up.  We never went out for coffee or brunch.  I never drank a glass of wine with my mom.  She didn’t teach me how to cook or how to take care of myself (make-up, hair, etc.).  The only time she was able to watch me graduate from anything was my kindergarten graduation.  She missed the other 3.  The two times I went to the prom, my date & I went to her.

I do many things with mom in mind.  I thought about her during both half-marathons I completed.  I think about her anytime I run, especially when my legs get tired.  Sometimes when I complain about running at the gym, she creeps into my mind.  I may not be happy about running, but I am physically capable of running and what a blessing that is.  I’m not terribly concerned about getting a close parking space.  It’s a nice perk, but so is being able to walk independently.

I often think about mom while I’m at the gym.  “Do it for mom.”  Thinking that often helps me find a hidden reserve of energy or strength.  Half-way through a plank, I can finish it for mom.  I may not always do a great job.  I’m never in the lead, so to speak, but I finish the work.  Slowly and maybe sloppily, but surely.