Monday, September 24, 2012

moving on

The day Elwood was born, everything changed. 

I think I knew having Ramona would change me. I wasn't surprised when I became a different person. But I am very surprised the birth of my second child could bring such a change. I guess I thought he would just be an addition. 

This is not what he has been. I have a new family. And I am a different person.

I am also surprised to discover that this project is over. Ramona and her Mother as a blog that grows each day is over. This space is named after me and I will continue to use it somehow, but Ramona and her Mother is over. I'm now working to bring together the work I've done into a sort of final product that I will share when it's ready. 

I don't know what is next. I recently wrote an e-mail to Dan Magers, whom I consider my writing mentor. I said, "I think I've let go of the idea of being an author and having an audience. I feel like now I am free to embrace the idea of writing for pleasure. I feel free to spend a lot of time on things that won't matter to anyone else, but will bring me a lot of happiness."

His response to me was, "Lately I've been thinking more about writing as a practice, something that one does as an aspect of their life that is integrated among all the other things in life. There are times in which one writes less, times one writes more. Times where some people see your work, and times where you are writing for yourself."

I wonder sometimes at how dull I am. For me, it takes the birth of a new child to realize everything is different. If I were a bit more careful, I could have already seen that everything is always changing and my heart accepts these changes without fail.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

for rebekkah and all who pray for her today

Dear Friend, in honor of you I didn't grumble this morning when I had to get out of bed. Every time I fed my new baby last night, I thought of you. I thought of the night feedings you yourself had done several years before. I thought of your son. I thought of all the babies you had wanted.
I poured my coffee. I thought of the coffee your mother might be drinking. Most of all, I think of your mother. How she saw you through the end of your life. How relived she might be to know you are free from pain. I think of my own daughter. And then shut down. Because my heart can not take it.
Today I teach with you in my heart. Every small face I will take a moment to look at, really look. I feel thankful to be waiting for quiet, to be turning a page, to hold a grimy hand. You were so kind to your students. I will try to be kind to mine.
Today every face I see is a face in prayer. We are all walking the steps of our lives with a special attention. Because we are all thinking of you. Every face I see is one in prayer.

- for Rebekkah, may you rest in peace.

- for everyone else, may you find comfort today in love. May you find comfort in the peace that is always there waiting for us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

each new baby

My new baby sleeps with me off and on during the night. It's not like a lifestyle or a philosophy or anything. He just sleeps with me sometimes. He lays his head against my breast after he is done nursing. Sometimes I put him back in his own bed. And sometimes I keep him right by my heart.

I understand why people have lots of babies. I feel like maybe a heart is an onion. Each new child pulls another layer away. And you could keep pulling layer after layer. Just to see what is underneath. Just to see more of what is inside.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 years, a day at a time

In honor of my 32nd birthday I began writing in a five year journal. My grandma gave me one of these when I turned 18 and I kept it off and on. The space to write was so small, so it was a place I recorded the simple acts of the day.  A movie with my boyfriend. A fight with my mom. Homework. Just the facts mostly, with a touch of perspective. After I had kept this practice for a few years I could see all my August 26ths all lined up. I could see how they were different, and the same. How the simple act of living my ordinary life became so wonderful to read over time. After I grew up a bit I threw out much of my writing. I threw it out in embarrassment. But not the five year journal, kept off and on from 18 to 22. It was the most honest of all the writing I had done.

I began this blog when my daughter was just born. I had these big feelings, I had a story I felt I knew how to tell. My daughter got a loud public display. My son gets a small book. A quiet daily story of loads of laundry, the day his smile grew wide, a small note to remind me of how on August 27th 2012 I  thought of him all day.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

the anniversary of a day I did right

The traditional gift of the sixth anniversary of my marriage is acceptance. It is a squint across this hard life to see the peace that is always there. It is the blurring of the edges between you and me.

It's accepting this promise wasn't a minor detail. It is a powerful, terrible, magical promise to walk with you to the end. 
Brian, the day I fell in with you was a day I did right. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

nothing to do but enjoy

This could become a place where I turn in baby pictures and thoughtful quotes from Ramona. If it did, I wouldn't blame me. Two kids is probably hard. I'm not sure though, because I thought things were hard before. And now I see they were so easy. So it makes me think this is probably easy too, only I don't realize it yet. So, I'm not taking things too seriously anymore. Because obviously I know nothing. 

Ramona does, though. 

"Mama, don't take Baby Elwood away. I'm enjoying him." 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

what babies do, according to ramona

"babies like to lay in beds and dream and relax"

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

mother brain

I have written things. And not published. I have thought things. And forgotten them. My new baby makes me so sleepy.

My therapist might ask, Nova are you doing ok? And I might say no, but it doesn't matter. Yes, but it can change. I can't remember who I am from one second to the next. Sad, then happy. Mad, then I can forgive. An Arm Full of Children can go from burden to joy in seconds. Back to pain, and a step to bliss.

Who cares about questions anyway? All I know is love. I have a sweet baby boy. And I love his peaceful face.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The first days home with the new baby, with my broken heart all over the place, I couldn't get close to Ramona. It was happening all over again. The choking sadness. And somehow my little girl got caught up in it again. How? How? I couldn't get close to her and her behavior pushed me further away. I asked her to eat a real dinner, she cried hard, I scooped her up and held her tight. It was happening again. My life suddenly changed. And there was Ramona, somehow caught up in it again.

Last night I was putting her to bed. Putting her to bed even though my body was tired. Putting her to bed even though I had a baby to nurse. Putting her to bed to win her back and soothe our hearts. As I helped her into her pajamas and covered her up, sang her a song and played with her hair, my mind went back to the place where I was constantly saying goodbye to her.

The night Elwood was born, I was putting Ramona to bed right before my water broke. I gave her a bath and tucked her in because I had a feeling. A feeling her brother was coming and I would soon be separated from my little girl. I had never been away from her for so long, and knew when I came home everything would be different. In the weeks prior to Elwood's birth I was saying goodbye to Ramona constantly. Hanging on to her tight. Feeling the impending change with fright.

But last night as I tucked my Ramona in, as I started to go back to that place where I hang on and I say goodbye, I stopped myself. There is no goodbye needed. There is no goodbye. We made it. I'm home. We are all home. We have endless nights together. We have countless tries to make it right and good. And in that moment I forgave myself for all of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Our baby boy came two weeks early. Last week I was reeling. I should still be pregnant...what happened...I'm already home from the hospital....but I should still be pregnant. This loop ran through my head on repeat.

I struggled to write this, but the stories are there, and they will unearth themselves, they will shake themselves loose over time. The stories I can tell from the last two weeks are the ones I will tell as an old lady. When my water broke, when they put my baby boy in my arms, how hard it was the first night home. We have lived some of the most important of our days in the last two weeks. 

The pierce in my heart is starting to fade. Oh so quickly too. The pierce of homesickness for the way things used to be. My particular brand of baby blueness is homesickness. This time I expected it and had forgiven myself far in advance. I forgive myself for being sad and lonesome for the way it used to be. I can cuddle my baby without fear. I can say exactly how I feel. Because I know I'm good. Because I know time will heal us and we will be home before we know it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

he is here!

Welcome to the world, Elwood.

Our story begins, sweet boy. 


Sunday, May 6, 2012

ramona at three: a birthday letter

Dear Ramona,
This week you turned three. But I feel like it was your first real birthday. You passed out cupcakes to friends at school. You walked around lost after your birthday party was over. All my friends are gone. I'm still wearing my birthday dress, but my party is over. And I smiled at you. Because now you know how it is. We look forward to things, we love them, they end, we are sad, sometimes relieved. Now you are three and starting to know these things.

Ramona, how did we get through the last three years? It was hard, but we did just fine. How did they go so fast? How is it possible it's only been three? I don't yearn for your babyhood. I'm too distracted by how neat you are in each new moment. How tall you are. How you said, "what the heck" and called your dad a "poopyhead". It's not all sweet, huh? I'm okay with that.

Less and less I see you as a list of achievements, milestones, percentiles. And I just see my little girl, who is not a baby. A funny girl. A sweet girl. Willful, difficult, flexible, loyal. This week I saw an adult woman sitting next to her adult daughter, they could not quit hugging. And I couldn't quit thinking of you, Ramona. Because I have a daughter too. and she's the best.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

such a good idea...

Okay, writing every day was a good idea. I figured I would just keep an ear out for an idea all day and scoop it up in a giant butterfly net and then share it before I passed out every night. And maybe it would be worth reading. 

I got really tired though. 

But I will say that in the last few days I put the baby car seat in my car. And I got registered at the hospital. I'm reading The Book Whisperer,which gives me the hope that I could love my job again. We are getting ready for Ramona's birthday. And I'm resting. 

Maybe I'm not cut out for the every day business. 


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

blurry picture number one

This evening, it was my intention to rest. Instead I opened the door to let the dog out and Ramona followed. And so did I. The unbearable sweetness, the hope, and easiness of this time makes me feel so still. I have a list of things to do. The list has a staple in it. But I feel fine. I am pretending if I say I'm scared. I'm too stupid to be scared. Before Ramona came it was the same. I have that soft layer of hope that incubates women waiting for babies. 

I want to remember this time. I want a small blurry picture of everything I feel, every step my family makes up until the morning my next baby comes. 

I'm going to try to tell the small story, the nearly daily account before it all changed. For the better. Wish me luck. It won't be easy to write every day.

But let's begin with today. Back to the sliding glass door. First the dog went out and then the girl. I sat on the deck with Ramona. She stood at the corner, working up the nerve to jump off. It scared me, but I thought she could do it so I sat silently. 

"Mama, turn your head away so you don't get scared for me", says Ramona. It will be her birthday one week from today. She will be three. I get tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat every time I think about her birthday. But not because she's growing older. I love that she grows older. But I'm so proud I can't stand it. And it makes me cry because it's too beautiful to stand.          

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Saturday morning I remembered we were having a baby. Soon. I opened my eyes and my first thoughts were of tiny baby laundry and deep cleaning. I remembered that despite all the other things we need to do, we really should get ready for our baby.

The crib skirt I ordered came in the mail yesterday. This morning, I asked Brian twice if he wanted to come see it. He did not. My feelings weren't that hurt, because Ramona really wanted to see it. We ran in together and she admired it with me. She asked if she could get in her baby brother's crib. I said no, but did she want to open all the packages of blankets with me? We really needed to get our shoes on, we needed to get our hair brushed and get out the door for school, but instead we stopped and played baby. We opened the blankets, picked out our favorites, spread them all over, and made plans to wash and fold them together tonight. 

"Mama, my baby brother is going to be so precious to me", she says. And of course, I cried a little. Because of her sweet heart. Because I'm excited too. Because she is so precious to me. And because he will be too. 

Things are different this time. When I got ready for Ramona, everything was perfect. I washed her things so carefully and treated them with reverence. This time, I know these pretty blue and green blankets will be played with and removed over and over again before he is born. They will be folded into lumps and maybe walked over. Hopefully with clean-ish feet. 

6 more weeks until we meet the precious baby brother. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

precious weekend

A few weekends ago Ramona, my mother and I spent a weekend with my grandparents. It was a very good weekend. It was quiet and comfortable. Ramona was not shy as she sometimes can be, and we all just enjoyed the company of each other. My grandpa listened to my stories. He told me he enjoyed the time we spent talking. and that we just didn't do it enough. 

This was three weekends ago, and now everything somehow suddenly changed. He is sick and probably not to return to his home with my grandma. 

I'm naming my soon to be born son after him. He won't really understand who my son is. Somehow these things happen. 

But we got that very good weekend together. Somehow these things happen too. 

My friend tells me this is God working his way in my life. I nod, because yes,that good weekend was my good Karma ripening.

I have a little tree in my room with gemstones twirled around in it. It is called a Wish Fulfilling Gem Tree. It's a Tibetan Buddhist thing and there is a guided meditation that goes with it. Ramona and I talk about the tree, because she asks about it. She calls it a Christmas Tree and also a Gem Treat. I tell her how when I see the gems on the tree I am reminded of all that is precious to me. When I see the tree, on a low branch, I see that weekend.

My grandpa is alive, I feel very strongly about not eulogizing someone who is still alive, but I hear from family he is very different. But just three weekends ago he told me how he enjoyed the time we spent talking. And that we just didn't do it enough. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

as evening fell, we cleared the already clean air

Last night I came home so tired. I taught nine classes and then stayed late moving piles of books around. My plan was to come home and pass out, but when I walked  in the door my sweet family breathed new life into me. We celebrated our Friday by going out for hamburgers and ice cream. Ramona showed us how she can ride her bike with the training wheels and then Brian and I sat in the back and watched her pick flowers and talk to a caterpillar.

I put my arms around Brian. "People are getting my blog posts about you wrong. My mom is worried about us. She's worried about me", I fret. 

He said, "I know the difference between you just being yourself and you trying to hurt me. I know you love me.

And I relaxed. And enjoyed the light and the air and our sweet little girl. Because he trusts my heart. So I can too.

Writing it while it happens opens you up to disaster. This life made of loving people has so many folds to it. I think I don't want to get it wrong, but more than that I want to feel the entire thing with my heart. I don't want to be afraid. Afraid you will get me wrong. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a love letter, sort of

I had a small wedding and while it was a very nice day, it wasn't the best day of my life. The best might have been the day he discovered my heart was broken and went about fixing it. How often does someone take the time to stop and fall in love with you? To stop in their tracks to fix you?

I will confess that about 30% of the time I could really go for an affair. Sometimes I'd chew off my arm to escape my life. I yearn for the time before I had so much to lose.

How can I keep from bashing him on the head with a bag of oranges? How can we live this sometimes boring, awful, loveless life? How can we do it? How can I make it through my thirties without blaming him for it all? How do lovers remain?

I listen to The Violent Femmes as loud as I can and remember the way he was before I ruined him. Before I piled the house and kids on him. Before I convinced him my happiness was to be chased at all cost. 

Somehow it is not entirely his goodness that keeps me. The way he is an excellent father. The way he comes through when we are broke. The very good man he is. Somehow I know it's something else. It's something else.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

wish you were here

I've acquired quite a taste for a well made mistake - Fiona Apple

This morning, as I was driving to school, I had to confront the fact that one of my most tangible memories did not actually happen. I think of it periodically, always during a touch of heartbreak. I crossed the back of the fine art building of my college. You were walking from the street. I see exactly how baggy your clothes were fitting you at the time. You wore a blue hat. We ran to each other, I am not kidding. And it is not exaggeration to say my heart exploded.

This might not have happened. I think I stood there alone. Making you up.

The summer I got married, I re-read all the Little House books. Now, I'm pregnant and while I wait for my baby, I've been reading The Savage Detectives and last week I read Just Kids by Patti Smith. These suit a craving I have, a craving for angst. And a deep craving for the past. Reading about these young poets reminds me of reading On The Road when I was a teenager. Then, just as now, I had no nightlife. No freedom. I can't get over how brief the period of freedom is for a woman. It's such a short time where you have your adulthood, before you become a mother and it's gone. Does it return? Does it even matter when your youth is gone? Countless times in the last few years I've regretted the careful way I manicured my twenties. Accumulated degrees, remained mostly safe, stayed home.

So, I recall the things I read and the boys I loved. I crave these things, the same as I do hamburgers and olives. I admit I dream about old loves nearly constantly. Sometimes I just dream I am walking around my college, and wake up with my broken heart. Do not shake your head at a 31 year old woman mourning her youth. You know as well as I do it is gone.

I crave a mistake. A good mom gone bad. Don't worry, it's not real and it will pass. I was made to do right.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

before you were born

When Ramona was born, I was speechless. I've never been so silent in my life. The nurses handed her to me so proudly, as if to say, Look what you made! Look what we delivered so well for you! Rejoice, she is wonderful! But I greeted her with no words. I knew a pronouncment was what they were looking for. Words were not what I had for her. Words just wouldn't do.
The miracle is not that you give birth to a baby. The miracle is the love. How it comes from nowhere. How without worry, without doing a thing, it arrives right on time.

This is a trust I have in the universe. Before they are born we know nothing of them but the things we place on them. You are a boy. You kick. You are the right size. You are my second child. But I don't know you. I know nothing of you. But this time I'm not worried about the place of my heart,because I trust in the universe. I trust that I was chosen for you. I trust that you are my path.

14 more weeks to go.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


We had a sonogram a few days ago, and despite my belief that all sonogram pictures look the same and belong in medical texts, this one is sweet to me.

Ramona is beginning to believe the story we are feeding her about there being a baby in my tummy. And she's drawing conclusions.

Last night she was inspecting the growing tummy, and turns to me in shock and asks, "Mama, is my baby brother PEEING in your tummy??"

I believe this is the smartest thing she's ever said. My mind was blown at how my small girl could construct such a rational and scientific conclusion. Then I shocked myself by explaining that, yes he is, but he's really little and it's just a little bit of pee-pee and it actually isn't gross.

One time a first grader asked me what drugs were and I said I don't know. I used to skip the part where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered with a shotgun while he stood on a balcony. I didn't think six year olds needed to know that. I've been uncomfortable with the hard stuff since the beginning of time.

But now I have my own small girl firing questions at me. Confusing and interesting questions I may or may not be able to answer intelligently. But I'm committed to telling the truth. I'm also aware these are softballs and to expect the questions to just get harder.

I can't help it. Isn't my daughter smart? Isn't my baby cute? Aren't humans kind of built to be wonderful? Let's just marvel together at nature for a bit.

Monday, January 23, 2012

reflections/angst on a book, The History of Love

he called her nova

it was the prettiest word he knew,

he called her nova

perfect for someone just like you

Allegedly, my dad wrote this. He wrote it sometime during the 70s. It was a song. A song my mother remembered, and he forgot. My mom remembered and it became my name. And this stanza showed up in a birthday card from my dad somewhere in my early 20s.

I've decided this is the way art works, and really not just the art, but also the teachings we receive. We hear what we want to hear, and we remember it in little fragments that we put together on our own. This is the way it goes.

I finished reading The History of Love by Nicole Krauss last night and it has invented enough feeling inside of me to break my silence on writing about books. Before I passed it on to the next reader, I searched this beautiful book for a sentence. Something to show you why it is to read. And every sentence reminded me of my dad's song. Because this book is somehow about a name, and remembering, and how the things we write move away from us and bring us things and never give us exactly what we are hoping for.

And it's about growing old. Not just old feeling. But honestly very old. And how we don't realize this now, but a lot of us will die alone. Our parents will be gone. Our mothers will not be there. The romantic loves we have lost will be more than lost. Everyone we know, gone. And we will hope to be seen by someone.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

small and large things

I had been saving all Ramona's little clothes for the last two and half years just in case we had another little girl. But we are not, and this is the last baby for me. So we get rid of them? Bin after bin of things my precious girl wore? We just give them away? I have tucked them in the basement, because I can't really deal with hard stuff right now.

I wasn't sure from where all the heartbreak came. After all, my new baby is coming and this is a time to be excited. What is wrong with me? Over the weekend I was going through my nephew's clothes. Some of them I liked, and others I didn't. I made quick piles of her things. No big deal for me. But my sister sat in desperation. Flinching every time I put something in the wrong pile. I chided her unkindly for acting crazy, and she responded, "But that's my life right there."

And those words settled into my brain. Crazy, and beautiful. That pile of old clothes her baby wore is her life? And I am just the same. I'm sad about the bins of pink. I'd be sad no matter what they looked like, because she wore them and she won't wear them again. These are the obvious lessons that come hard to moms.

How did we get to this point where a pile of old bottles, a plastic bin of onesies could become something we would point to and claim as our life? These small and large things are what will totally break our heart in the end.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

the boy kind

The reason we needed another baby is because of the florescent lighting in the bathroom at work. Every time I went in there I saw grey hair. Grey hair that is or isn't there. I'd glance at my hair and immediately my ovaries would begin to worry.

So, despite the fact that one is always enough, we are having two. And I am scared. And happy. But like roller coaster happy scared where you know it could be dangerous, but you believe everything is going to be amazing.

Our new baby is going to be the boy kind. I always wanted to have a son, even though I never wanted to have a son. Girls are my people. But at the same time, when I taught first grade I always found the boys daunting and lovable in a way that made me want one for keeps. But still, I'm nervous and feel like having a son is not unlike inviting a strange and funny monkey to tea.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

new year

This year has been new for five days. It's not too late to write about it. I didn't make a resolution this year, despite how I love setting goals, failing at goals, and feeling miserable about them. It wasn't a conscious effort. I just didn't get around to it. Kind of like how I forgot to write about Christmas.

I spent New Years with my sick little girl. Late at night, she woke with a high fever and a very scary dream about dinosaurs in her room. Her high fever scared me and the maturity of her dream made me so sad. I remember the scary dreams of childhood. So, I brought her to bed with me.

She was immediately comforted, so relieved to be in mama's bed. She sang goofy little songs to me, and told me weird, funny things. Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, I really like your branches. We laid there for awhile, scratching her back, petting her head, waiting for her fever to break. She coughed in my face, her hot arms wrapped around my neck. At the same time, my tiny little baby wiggled deep inside. My blessings all drawn up around me.

I am always surprised that Ramona feels the same way for me that I do my own mother. I somehow bring her the kind of comfort one expects from a Mother. Despite being flawed and all wrong, and sometimes unkind, I am exactly right.