Inside


These are the days of looking inside everyone’s life through social media. You’re looking at their beautiful children and their perfect marriage. You see all the fun they’re having. You see all of their wonderful times out with friends, vacations and new toys. You notice how perfect they are and you cringe because you know you aren’t like them. 

You tend to forget that people don’t live their inside outside. It’s so much pressure to be perfectly perfect, isn’t it? You must have it all. You’re failing if you don’t. The truth is that no one truly has it all. 

The older I get the more I realize that people aren’t who they seem. People aren’t perfect, with perfect children and perfect marriages. That’s all for show. That’s the outside. 

I just read an article about being a mother in your 20’s and 30’s. It was perhaps a relevant topic to me at one point, because at one point I was in my 20’s and 30’s. A mother working, balancing house and career. I worried that I wasn’t doing it right. I worried because of ear infections, bullying, giving enough of myself to this person and that person. I worried. 

The same is true of me now, the woman in her 40’s. The topics change, the worries shift, the balancing is different. I’d almost like to go back to those days. Those are the days that you should slow down the most. Nurture your children, love your spouse, instill strength and self love, take care of yourself, find who you are. 

The woman I am now in her 40’s is finding that perhaps this is actually the real shit. The real hard shit. See, it’s just relevant. 

My father lives with us and I continually am reminded of how sad his life is. It’s frustrating beyond belief to have to face his mental illness day in and day out. Choices. I made the choice to move him into my home. 

My daughter is utterly exciting to watch as she spreads her wings. As she speaks of moving, life without me, I can’t help but have a tinge of jealousy. Sometimes I want to spread my wings. That’s exactly why I am all for her becoming the self she wants to be. No regrets. No, I wish I would haves. 

My son struggles day in and day out. I can’t fix him. I’m no longer the mom in her 30’s who could have at one point hugged him tight and made it all better just by being mommy. This shit is hard. 

I no longer have hugs and snuggles. I no longer have someone needing me like they once did. There is no more helping with homework, fixing snacks, playing Disney movies a million times or kissing a hurt knee. Both of my children are finding their own way and it’s starting to feel like I have little to do with that. I have to remember that the woman I was in her 20’s and 30’s has a lot to do with that. 

Each stage of life is hard. It’s all hard. Its relevance to you is undeniable. Don’t forget that people show their outside to you. They struggle as well. Perhaps their struggles aren’t like yours, but again…. relevance is key here. 

Years from now you’ll look back and find yourself realizing you made it through. You made it to the next stage. For that, let your inside be thankful.

Serendipity 


On August 22nd my husband, Joe and I were on a four hour car drive listening to The Moth. It’s become something we love to do together as we ride along laughing and sometimes crying. The Father’s Day special happened to be replaying, in which seemed fitting since Joe’s father was dying from an aggressive brain tumor. 

David Kendall was telling his story of how he found his love of music by listening to the likes of Chuck Berry in the evenings with his father. He spoke of how he knew he was being introduced to something special, and a little forbidden given they were from a very Southern Baptist driven community. He spoke of how he cherishes those memories of time spent getting to know his father through learning to have a love of music. David expressed how the song Maybellene by Chuck Berry, forever ingrained a love and passion he wouldn’t have known had it not been for his father. Neither of us had ever heard that song featured in this story. 

The following week Joe began to spend every evening at his father’s home. He had been asked to go through the garage. The hope was that Vic would join him, if at least just to be together in company. At this point however, it was too late. As Vic laid in his hospital bed in his living room, Joe began the task of going through his father’s many inventions, tools and curbside findings. Joe discovered the tape cassette player in the corner. He grabbed the first tape he saw, threw it in and it was the unrelenting sound of Maybellene.

Last night was the visitation. A man came through the line, said his condolences and left. He then came back several minutes later straight down the center to my husband. He looked at him and said, ” It just dawned on me that you’re Eddie’s boy.” 

I know I’ve been calling Joe’s father Vic. By all accounts Vic is Joe’s father, but there’s a little twist to his family tree. Joe was adopted a couple of generations down the line in his family. By all intents and purposes, Toni and Vic are truly Joe’s parents. However, his biological father is Carl Edward Dickerson; who was killed by a drunk driver, and taken too soon. 

This man who came up to Joe told him he was his father’s best friend up until the day he passed. That he has story after story about him. Joe doesn’t know much about Eddie. Joe was just a little confused boy when he was brought into his new family. His biological mother and father suffered with addiction and wounds from the war. Around the time just before Eddie was killed, he was coming back into Joe’s life. My husband has a memory of Eddie pushing him on a swing. Joe has always wondered what their path could have been. The man who came back to tell my husband he knew his biological father, is a treasure to be had. Perhaps he can fill in the unwritten.  There has always been a little place in Joe’s heart that has been left blank.  Everyone no matter their situation wants to know where they “came from”. 

Later that night on the way home Joe told me in the dark of the car that he felt like Vic, his dad, was giving him one last gift. 

The Moth Rock of Ages

Chapter One

When I started writing about bringing my father into my home, I didn’t realize how stagnant some of the days would be. Most days are filled with (him) watching television right now. I keep asking him everyday to go on walks with me, but he won’t. He says his hip hurts, so I am going to make sure that gets brought up to his doctor. I’m trying to decide if it’s an excuse.

He did go with us to the zoo two weekends ago. Albeit a small zoo, but he walked the zoo. Then this past weekend, my beautiful daughter graduated from high school. He got a haircut and a beard trim the day before. He took a shower the day of! Yes for small triumphs!

Now on to my life…

What can I say? I’ve worried over the past 8 months that I wouldn’t be available enough for my teens. There have been times I’ve felt bad. Literally, I’ve felt bad because I’m pretty sure when my father was in his catatonic depression that I was going down that path as well. I’m good now. At least I think. I’m learning that my teens don’t need me as much as I’d like them to. I’m also learning that allowing my apron strings to fall to the floor is a healthy process that we must go and charge forth with. 

The day of graduation I was my usual unorganized self running around and finding that I only had 30 minutes to get ready all of a sudden. Happens every damn time I have something important to do. I spent most of my afternoon trying to get my son to sign his sister’s card, which he did in his dark humor of ‘Rest in peace, you were a cool sister.’ Ugh. 

It was time for Rowan to drive off ahead of us to the school; and as she was flying out the door and I was trying to get a hug that I never got, she handed me several cards. She asked me to give them to the people they were addressed to.

The door slammed and I looked down to see these tiny little thank you cards. One for her best friend’s mother, her boyfriend’s parents, my father, my mother, my step-father, her brother, my husband and myself. 

I haven’t spontaneously cried at the first sentence of written words in years. The affirmation that I’m doing it right, I’m doing it right for her. It may not be perfect and it may not be the best mothering a mother can do, but I’ll be damn… she thinks so and that’s all that matters. 


My beautiful children I am so blessed to have in my life. Seth and Rowan 

The Way You Talk To Me

Do you ever listen intently to someone as they’re telling you a story? If you’re really listening, feeling the emotions of the journey they are telling you, you’re being spoken to by someone who is empathic. Not only that, you’re becoming someone who is listening with the intent to respond. Pay attention. 

My best friend was telling me how on Mother’s Day she tried to take a nap. She wasn’t able to because her neighbor’s girlfriend recently broke up with her, so her neighbor took up drumming as a hobby. Most people would stop there.  Crista on the other hand began to explain to me the beat and she played it out for a good 15 seconds. Enough for it to be in my mind still. Enough for me to have actually thought about her neighbor today. I wonder if she’s playing the drums right now? I wonder if she’s crying or if she’s playing with anger?

I now have empathy for a stranger, because I listened to my friend with the intent to respond. 

This is something I am currently trying to work on with my spouse. We have completely different ways of thinking. I’m always dying for him to be lyrical and romantic and he’s just not going to be… to my definition. If I listen to him however, truly listen, his compassion, love and empathy is there. It just doesn’t cross my paths, but if we both take a different way every so often, we’ve got miles and miles left to explore.

My Son, Part 3 of Gratefulness 


Where do I begin, Seth. You’re a hard one. Even finding a photo of you is next to impossible, my secretive son. I’d give anything to be inside your head for a day. 

As a small boy, you’d walk around the house creating stories. Dressed to the nines with matching pajamas, slippers and the toys to go with their theme for the day. Neat. Clean eating. Bedtime regime, without parental guidance. 

It’s like you knew who you were already. Sitting in the recliner watching television upside down. Drawing, upside down. Crowds made you scream. Water frightened you. You were and are eccentric. A spy maybe? Or maybe someone who just likes to view the world a little differently. From within.

You lost a friend when you were young. His death was tragic and even more so since it was by his father’s hand. I felt a piece of you leave Earth after that. I’m so sorry. 

Your talent in art is nothing short of incredible and I hope someday you will let the world see it. 

Your mind is photogenic and always learning. Without you, I’d never know Mike the Headless Chicken ever existed.

I remember a day that I was snuggling with my soon to be husband, Joe… the one you called Joe Mama. We were in our own little heaven and you walked by us and said quietly something I won’t share. I’m keeping it. It was then however, that I discovered your talent for dark humor and I got you. I get you. I love you. 

My Daughter, Part 2 of Gratefulness 


It’s been at least a decade since I’ve held you in my arms, perhaps even longer.

The moment you were placed into my cradling arms, is a time in my history that I shall never forget. It’s the very moment in my life that I realized I wasn’t alone anymore. I won’t lie, it frightened me to the very core of my being. 

I have moments in time that I wish I could go back to visit. I would give anything to read to you again. To be able to bathe you. If I could just go back to holding you while you slept so peacefully against my neck. To feel you breathing against my skin. 

I received a card when you were born from my Uncle Richard. Over the years, for reasons here and there, I have dragged that card out and read it’s perfect story. Inside the card Uncle Richard wrote an excerpt from Khalil Gibran On Children. It has stayed with me my entire path of motherhood. We aren’t given direction on how to be a mother. A mother should know. It’s not always true. I’ve often thought that I was just one of those rare lucky mothers who happened to bare an old soul. 

You have the wit and beauty of someone who has seen centuries. My lovely, Rowan. The little red one. Thank you for this adventure you’ve brought me into. I’m already dreaming of where it will take me.

“You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.”

-Khalil Gibran

My Husband, Part 1 of Gratefulness

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Change often leads to wonderful things.

I found him one morning at around 5:45. The two of us were alone in the elevator going to the 4th floor. I couldn’t stop staring at his pulsing jaw and wondering what had made him so angry.

Neither of us said a word. In fact, I’m pretty sure he was alone for the ride. I often wondered if I was invisible.

It was Winter and the air cut through my skin in a way that only Midwestern know.  My heels were loud on the parking lot making their presence known against the asphalt and the cold dark morning. I was looking for the angry man. I couldn’t stop myself from seeking out his impassioned marrow.

Days went by of being alone with this newly found excitement. I think he may have looked at me once. His jaw, always pulsing.

I parked my car one morning in a different spot. I was always so predictable and this made me feel secure again. There he was walking by and I was unnoticed. Invisible once again. My sense of cover was shattered when I realized the angry man seemed to be searching for me. His pace slowed, he looked left and right. The very fact that this excited me made me wonder if I should wear my cloak again.

He should have already been long gone; yet there he was waiting, ready to ride the 4 floors with me. We were alone again. Is it possible that I have found fate?

I was the first to utter a word.

I said good morning to the pulsing jaw. It seemed to relax as it answered back. Somehow in the months to follow as Winter thawed into Spring, I started to learn that the anger came from tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His jaw was starting to become more relaxed with each passing day.

My angry little bird turned from missile to feathered fowl. He was soft to the touch and soothing to my soul.