My Brother Took a Walk and Never Returned

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You never think it will happen to you, not your family.  Even the most paranoid and anxiety ridden of us never truly believe reality could be this cruel.  We hear the news stories, we see the families huddled together, broken and scared, desperately hanging onto their prayers.  We glance at the posters briefly, if we stare too long the picture might become too real and force us to imagine the nightmare.


But then somehow, out of nowhere, everything we once knew is shattered as we're dragged into one of life's horror shows.

The call comes on a sunny Sunday morning, your children are laughing and shrieking in the background as they play with their friends.  Surely nothing terrible could happen when the world is so alive and beautiful.  Expecting a friendly social call or perhaps a quick question about the upcoming summer birthdays, the words you hear instead don't make sense.

"Robbie's missing."

Silence.  It doesn't make sense.  The words can only mean one thing but it doesn't make sense.  So you ask your mother to repeat herself, obviously you've misunderstood the statement's true connotations.  

"Your brother went for a walk to the library yesterday afternoon and he never came back."

The world slows down as you fall to a sitting position.  She continues to explain, no phone calls, not answering, phone's dead, driven all over town, filed missing person's report, words jumbled together explaining something that still Doesn't.  Make.  Sense.

Finally something registers with you.  The taste of coffee, you were drinking coffee, you want another sip.  Do you keep drinking your coffee?  How can you possibly do something so mundane, so meaningless?  

The first day is surreal, nothing sinks in.  The calls go back and forth.  Have you heard anything?  When did you last hear from him?  Did he say anything?  Did you call his friends?  

There are still valid reasons, fathomable scenarios floating through your head.  You cling to a reasonable explanation, you don't dare to let your mind wander, not there.  No, God, please not there.

But the seconds turn to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days.  And soon you realize the police have nothing, the posters have been passed out, the hospitals have been checked, you've snooped through all his personal belongings searching for an answer, friends you didn't know he had have been contacted, phone records checked, bank activity checked.  Nothing.  You're left with nothing.

You're tortured by that last interaction, or maybe, as in my case, that lack of a last interaction.  Why didn't you call him back?  What if something was wrong and he needed you?  What if you simply missed out on one last opportunity to hear his voice, make stupid jokes, commiserate about life's absurdity, to say 'love you too.'  

Every time you replay that last day you're left with the same unsettling thought, how could you have been too busy to call him back?

It's not rational, it's not healthy, but maybe it's the only coping mechanism you have left.  If you stop obsessing, stop torturing yourself, stop crying, what are you left with?  Nothing.  You're left with nothing but the harsh realization that your life is going on without him.  That you've been left behind to form some new kind of normal.  

Food doesn't taste the same but you find you have to eat again, jokes aren't funny but you find you still try to make them, the tasks you use to find tedious are now unbearable but you still have to do them, you break down in the most obscure places and you still have to keep going.

People who have a loved one disappear are forced to navigate a terrible path.  There is no closure, there are no answers.  You feel every emotion there is, and every emotion feels wrong.

How can you mourn the loss of someone who may be alive?  How can you be angry at someone for leaving when it may not have been their choice?  How can you say good bye to nothing?

You can't.  All you can do is try to find a way to live your life around the hope that your loved one will be returned to you, you find a way to live your life around their memory.  You find a way to push that nagging feeling that you're missing a very important piece of the puzzle to the back of your mind.

You find a way to finish your cup of coffee and keep living, even if it's no longer to the fullest.  Because really, how can it ever be again?


Top 5 Reasons I Love Moving

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Top 5 Reasons I Love Moving (aka looking on the bright side of chaos)

1)  You have a socially acceptable reasons for your house to look like a complete disaster zone.  Sure the boxes might not have anything to do with the fact that yesterday's oatmeal is still stuck to your stove but details people, just details.

2)  You're completely guilt free about the fact that your 3 year old spent all morning watching tv while you attacked the awfulness that is your "storage closet."  It's cool, it was the Magic School Bus so it was educational mommy slacking.

3)  Laundry?  Pfft.  You're moving.  Who has time?

4)  You can use the excuse "we're in the process of moving" or "we just moved" for a solid two months before people start getting suspicious about the REAL reason as to why you have suddenly become perpetually 15 to 30 minutes late for everything.  If you even bother to show up.  After all, you have a lot of laundry to catch up on.

5)  Nothing says best reason ever to bust out the credit cards like hitting the thrift stores for some hardcore re-decorating.  New house=....new dining room table?  Makes total sense


Live Every Day Like it's Your Last...Do I Have TO??

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I am so sick of living every day like it's my last.

Every time I don't savor the moment of the umpteenth "but why mommy?  why?  WHY???", every time I don't revel in the joy of another tantrum or poop explosion diaper, every time I don't relish another game of Candy Land, or if instead of saying yes to "one more book, PUH-LEASE" I say no because all I want is to fall onto the couch and listen to the sweet sound of silence (the silence I'm not suppose to enjoy).

I love my life, I love my family, and I adore the crap out of my children.  But doesn't motherhood come with enough guilt as it is to where I shouldn't have to feel like an ungrateful narcissist for wanting a little peace and quiet every now and then?

"Enjoy it while it lasts!"  I think those might be the worst words ever spoken by one mother to another.  Do we really need to spend out days living by what is in fact an incredibly pessimistic and depressing sentiment?

I know the intent is to encourage us to live in the moment and appreciate our lives, but how?  By being afraid of what tomorrow might end?

I suffer from anxiety as it is, paranoia does not become me.

I'm the kind of person who gets an idea in my head and I can't let it go.  If I feel guilty for thinking "oh for the love all things peaceful could you please be quiet for 5 SECONDS??" when my son has been asking nonstop questions for the past 2 hours, I feel guilty for the rest of the day.  And it snowballs.  I can't believe I thought that.  I can't believe I'm not enjoying this moment.  I can't believe I just lost my temper.  I can't believe I said no.  I can't believe I just failed miserably at being a mom today.

Yea, I know, extreme.  That's kind of my thing, unfortunately.

What's the alternative though?  How do we enjoy the little moments without the guilt trip?

I'm still trying to figure that one out.


The Nicest Lie I Was Ever Told

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I was one of those little girls who walked around with her American Girl Bitty Baby playing Mommy.  I'd feed her, change her, lay her to sleep in her pretty little bassinet where she slept soundly for as long as it took me to play outside, write stick figure novels, eat several meals throughout the day, and watch The Flinstones.  Sometimes she'd even sleep for a couple days.  Then I'd pick her up, ready to return to Mommy mode.  I'd stare at her adoringly mostly, reveling in the awesomeness that is motherhood.


When other little girls talked about their big aspirations (president, police officer, astronaut, actress, even the odd CEO here and there), I basically wanted to be my mother.  And to me that was one hell of a dream.  My mother was a stay at home mom who cooked all 3 meals from scratch to accommodate both the vegetarians and carnivores in the house, she packed my dad lunches, clipped coupons, and managed to entirely homeschool 4 children.  

We all not only survived, but we actually have pretty fond memories of our upbringing.  Plus nobody grew up to be a serial killer or prostitute, we also have impeccable manners.  In my book that says parenting=WELL DONE!

As I got older I continued to picture myself as the mother that I would one day be.  I would be laid back, loving, calm, a real go with the flow mother earth kind of parent.  

I felt this was an attainable fantasy.  Hell I still think that half the time.  

I never pictured the kind of day like today.

I got stuck at work late last night.  By the time I got home and cleaned the place up (my darling other half, bless his heart, thinks cleaning up means closing the cabinets and perhaps even relocating the dishes from the table to the sink), I didn't get to bed until after midnight.  

Baby girl wakes up at 2:30, I change her, I feed her, I give her some cuddles, put her to bed, and close my eyes again with a sigh of relief.  PSYCH!  No thanks mom, I'm actually not in the mood to sleep tonight.  Let's HANG OUT. 



Which is what we did for the next two hours until she passed out.  Another two hours and the day has begun.

Little man wakes up ready for some shenanigans.  I take some deep breaths, pray my usual "Please Lord, GRANT ME PATIENCE" prayer, and sip my coffee like it is the air keeping me alive.

He and the dog start at it.  He runs his car into him.  I sit him down and have a calm little discussion with him about how toys are not for hitting and we are to be gentle with the dog.  This is the 7,437th time we've had this chat.  I seem to get through to him.  We bond.  I pat myself on the back for a job well done. 

Nanny 911 would be so proud right now.  Stellar parenting skills I'm exhibiting right now.  They shall be the best of friends from here on out.

10 minutes later, as I'm getting the clothes together for a big trip to the laundromat, I look over just in time to see Little man get irritated with the dog and swat him in the face.

SERIOUSLY?  DIDN'T WE JUST TALK ABOUT THIS?  DO WE HAVE TO DO THIS EVERY DAY?

Yea, I yelled.  

We continue to argue the rest of the morning.  He's pushing his limits and I'm desperately trying to hang on to some shred of sleep deprived patience.  

While the clothes are in the dryer I load the kids up and hightail it to the grocery store. 

There's some issue with my card, while it gets sorted out I hold up what is apparently the ONLY LINE, embarrassingly trying to assure them I have money to pay for everything and even though I forgot to put my size NEARLY A cup boobs into a bra this morning, I'm not actually a teen mom.

Purchase my groceries (VICTORY!), load the kids up, oh crap.  Wheres my phone?  Back into the store, find it on a shelf.  Do you need to go pee pee?  Are you SURE?  There's no bathroom at the laundromat...

Of COURSE I'm sure MOMMY.

My fault for believing the 3 year old, rookie mistake.

Half way through folding the laundry...

MMMMMMMMM....MMMMMM....I HAVE TO GO PEE PEE.  MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY, I HAVE TO GO REALLY BAD.

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

So I grab the last dryer load to toss it on top of the folded clothes and race home when...of course the clothes I put in for over an hour are soaking wet.  The dryer is out of order.  Dish out some more quarters and high tail it back it home.

Run the kids and the groceries inside.  Get everyone's bladder situations in order, take the dog out to go with us for the clothes.  Look like a crazy woman yelling and pulling back a dog pulling me with a baby attached to me while yelling at my other offspring to stop playing in a mud puddle.

Mud puddles are not for playing honey...honey I need you to listen.  That's 1, STOP IT DOG, Little man...that's 2...DOG, SIT...I need you to put your sandal back on and get out of the....SERIOUSLY GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW!!

Square one for a day of patience, we're back there.

Put the kids down for a nap.  Phew.  Silence.  Time to speed clean.  And do some prep for dinner.  Oh crap.  Forgot to turn on the rice cooker.  Wait why is only one pot boiling?  Oh, have to turn on the other one.  Reaching for a lid...FIRE!  I'M ON FIRE.  

Note to self, no baggy shirts while cooking over a gas stove.    

Have a nice phone conversation with my mom, who never ceases to pull me back from the edge and help me to laugh at myself.

Unfortunately I then realize I forgot to turn OFF the stove now.  Burnt lentils, yum.  Oh good little man's awake, and in 5 minutes he and the dog have managed to piss each other off.  

This is half way through my day and I'm going to spare you the rest of the details.  Let's just say I popped a beer at 6 for survival purposes.

I never, in all my wildest hippie peace mommy fantasies, ever saw myself as THAT mother.  You know the one.  The one in yoga pants, no bra, half a braid still intact, no make up unless you're counting last night's mascara, sweating due to the 8 month old attached to her in an Ergo during 90 degree weather, whilst yelling at her 3 year old and hyperactive puppy simultaneously.  


I use to judge those sweaty, angry moms for not being the peace lover image I had of what every mother should be.

Basically the nicest thing someone ever did for me was lie about how hard being a mom is sometimes.

My mom had her breakdowns, oh trust me did she ever.  I never doubted that she was an imperfect, beautifully flawed human being.  But I also never doubted how much she loved us or how dedicated she was to being the best mom that she could be FOR us.  Even if sometimes that fell a little short of her expectations.

I get it now, some days are really freaking hard.  Some days you'll find yourself having a good cry in the middle of the afternoon because you're feeling like a little bit of a failure. 

Thanks Mom, for making it look like a piece of cake and inspiring me to get into this beautiful mess in the first place.



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10 Tips for New Moms

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1)  I don't care if you've got 4 weeks left or you're 3 days late, if you're feeling "funky" and obsessing over whether or not this is IT, just go to the freaking doctor!  Take my advice and don't wait until you're putting every ounce of effort into standing up without doubling over before heading over there.

You just might find yourself stuck in rush hour traffic wondering why the hell, when the doctor asked you if you'd be interested in some Lamaze classes, you responded with, "no thanks, I'm just going to wing it."

Worst case scenario you have some bitchy nurse tell you you're not in labor, to drink some water, suck it up, and you get a freebie listen to your baby's heartbeat/ultrasound.

2)  It's okay to change your mind last minute about your baby's name.  Hell, it's okay to confidently show off your newborn baby with the chosen name and then decide 2 hours later that is not in fact the correct name for your baby.  How could you let me tell people she was an Emily when she is so clearly NOT AN EMILY???

They won't let you leave without putting a name on the birth certificate right?  Milk that for all it's worth, grab a few more nights of around the clock nannies and somebody who is not you cooking.

3)  On that note, you can change your mind about pretty much whatever you want around this time.

"I'm going all natural for labor!  It's what's best for the baby!  Plus Jessica Alba thinks it's zen."
12 hours later to...
"GIVE ME THE EFFING DRUGS OR I SWEAR I'M NOT GOING TO PUSH.  NOT EVEN A LITTLE.  YOU WANT TO GIVE ME A C-SECTION??  BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT'S GOING DOWN IF YOU DON'T GET SOMEONE WITH A VERY LARGE NEEDLE IN HERE STAT! @#%#@*@@@!!!!!"

"Breast is best!!!!!"
to...
"Please get this angry, screaming child away from my poor nipples and give him a bottle already.  This is not beautiful and I don't like it."

"I'm not going to be one of those hippie moms who can't be away from their babies for more then 30 seconds.  Trust me, this child will be sleeping on his own, in his own bed from day 1."
to...
"The crib?  Are you insane?  My baby is not leaving my side thank you very much."

It's okay.  This is pretty much the one time in your adult life where nobody (at least nobody worth your time) is going to judge you for being a little wishy washy.

4)  This is also the one time in your adult life where you can randomly decide to chop off 11 inches, get fringe bangs, or go red and have it be acceptable.  I hear lots of people say you shouldn't do anything drastic to your hair for the first few months after having a baby.  Apparently it's a common "mistake" new moms make.  But I disagree.

Unless you're one of the Kardashians, you're probably going to spend the next year (or 2 or...when do they start school again?) not putting as much effort into your looks as you use to.  So why not shake things up?  Or fuck things up, whatever.  You're allowed to, this is your hairstyle meltdown time!  You might even come out ahead!

Or not...but it's called a headband, I hear the 80s are coming back anyway.

5)  There is no shame in yoga pants.  In fact I have it on good authority (*ahem* the man who got me in this predicament in the first place...) that my ass looks awesome in them.  It may not be true, but I'm going to go with it.

6)  "It took you 9 months to put the weight on, it'll take you..." blah blah blah.  Forget about the weight.  You might lost it all within 6 weeks and never wear the same brand/size of jeans again.  Or you might find yourself a year later feeling sexier than ever but still 20 pounds shy of pre-pregnancy weight.  I've been on both ends of the spectrum and the only firm conclusion I've come to is that pregnancy changes your body.  Period.  Get use to it.  Love it.

7)  This is for those of you with another child at home.  Embrace the tv.  Stop trying to be super mom during this time.  We get it, normally your child only gets 30 minutes of screen time and your prefer to fill his days with educational activities and creative crafts that will encourage his development into brilliance.  But right now if the most stimulating task your 3 year old takes on is attempting to make himself a peanut butter and jelly because mommy fell asleep with her face in a plate of nachos, THAT'S FINE.  Well, maybe not the passing out part but you get my drift.

Their IQ won't drop that much.  And if it does, hey at least they have those good looks to fall back right??

8)  Even if you're full blown, 100%, on the cover of Times motivated breastfeeding, it's okay to have a little formula in the house.  It's not poison, I swear.  If your baby isn't latching right now, or your nipples hurt so badly you want to cry every time you realize your baby is hungry AGAIN, or you need a large glass of wine ASAP, or maybe you need to have your partner take over so you can get a solid 4 hour stretch of sleep.  In any case, the world will not end.  Your breasts will not dry up, your baby will not lose interest in nursing (I mean seriously, how many times have you told hubby you're too tired tonight?  Has HE lost interest in them yet?!), and the breastfeeding police will not find you.

As long as you cover your tracks, pay for that can of formula with cash.  They can't trace it that way...

Your sanity is worth more than the "studies," it's even worth more than Gisele Bundchen's opinions (I know, shocking right?).

9)  Don't start any huge arguments or make any major life decisions.  Other than bangs obviously.  You're hormonal and, let's face it, a little on the crazy side right now.  Your husband might seem like the biggest asshole in the world and you might be wondering why you ever married him in the first place, but honestly he may have genuinely forgotten you said Reese's Cups and NOT Reese's Pieces.  Forgive him.

On the other hand if you ask him what he thinks of Angelina Jolie and he does not IMMEDIATELY respond with "she's way too skinny" then all bets are off.  Go for it girl.

10)  Scrap-booking can wait.  Those pictures will still be there when they go to college.



Why I Hate Words Like "Dilute" or "Mixed" When it Comes to Race

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The kids were napping, the house was clean, food was cooked, and I realized I really had nothing I had to do.  Free time??  Score!  So obviously I decided to plop down on the couch and browse Facebook, stimulating right?


I stumbled upon a link for a response to Policymic's "Nation Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It's Beautiful."  It was The Hairpin's reaction entitled "Cancel What Americans Will Look Like in 2050."  

This paragraph from The Hairpin is what really struck me.

"Demographics are changing, attitudes about race are changing, yes; and I am glad for it. And maybe it's good that people keep writing pieces like this, so impossibly shallow and shortcut-minded that the subtext is clear as anything: look how nice we look, as a people, when white gets to be more interesting and minorities get to look white. Look at this freckled, green-eyed future. Look at how beautiful it is to see everything diluted that we used to hate."

The fact that we're still using words like "dilute" and "minorities" to refer to people pisses me off.  It shows me that race and how race is portrayed is apparently still a big, fucking deal.  They see different, I see separation.  

Because we keep saying race doesn't matter, and we keep saying we're fine with "mixed" relationships.  But articles like this show me we're not.  Because we're still fucking talking about it like it MEANS something that there's a possibility 40, 50 years down the road everyone might have several different races in their blood (as if the majority of us don't already!).  Why is that upsetting?  No one is saying it SHOULD be that way, and that you SHOULD strive to blend your family so that you can contribute to a changing society.  

You're bummed that some day we MIGHT no longer have, or at least look like, "pure" whites, blacks, asians, mexicans, indians, etc?  I'm not.  Because when we take all that away you know what we'll be left with?  People.  It's not about making us more interesting, it's about hoping that maybe someday when people look for partners, they will look ONLY at that potential mate as a person and not at how their ethnicity or color relates to their own.  

I don't care if you're dating/marrying/procreating within or outside your race.  I really don't.  I'm not hoping everyone will hop on the interracial bandwagon.  I just want it to stop being an issue, a conversational topic, or even a fucking comment EITHER WAY.  You have blonde haired, blue eyed babies?  Awesome, don't feel bad, you're not contributing to racism.  You have mocha colored and freckled skinned babies?  Awesome, don't feel bad, you're not ruining a single heritage.

The original piece by National Geographic was cool, that's it.  It was based on the fact that we're a changing society, that's it.  It was pointing out that race is becoming less of a big deal and hopefully will continue on that trend, that's it.  Leave it at that.  


They see blended, interracial, integrated, mixed.  I see family.

When You Can't Swoop In and Save The Day

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I decided I had way too much free time on my hands taking care of my two small children, therefore I went out and adopted a dog.  Yes, there is a very good chance I'm insane.  If I didn't occasionally use it, I would totally donate my brain to some university so that its craziness could be studied.

My son is ridiculously shy.  He WANTS to be sociable, I can see it and it breaks my heart.  He attempts to say hi to other kids but freezes up and instead just stands there staring at them.  He'll usually utter a "hey" as they walk away.  He tries to talk to them but gets nervous and mixes up his words.  He tries to get their attention but his little voice can't seem to reach an audible level at that moment.

I know his pain because I've been there.  It's frustrating, nauseating, and all around really disappointing to be that shy.  I grew up like that, I turned into an angry and depressed teenager with no self-esteem.  I don't want that for my children.  Seeing him hurt is so much worse then any hurt I've ever felt.

As parents we try so hard to keep all the bad things in the world at bay, but there is some pain we can't protect our children from.  I hate it.  I hate it so much to see my baby sad and to not be able to fix it.

Of course I've googled it, as well as spoken to his pediatrician about it.  I do what I can, I try to get him involved.  I try to set up one on one play dates.  I try to build his confidence.  I try to talk to him, encourage him.  But honestly, it's looking more and more like this battle is going to be his own to fight.
I'm a control freak, this is not something I'm able to handle well.  I want to swoop in at the park wearing my Super Mom cape and magically equip him with the ability to talk and be sociable.

I also want to kick any kid that isn't nice to him, especially when he's trying so hard to involve himself but instead just standing there awkwardly.  I get that they're kids being stupid kids when one of them says "I don't want to play with you," to him, but if I was 5 I would totally push that little twerp into the mulch, then laugh when he cries.

Yea I said it.

The other really sucky part of this situation is that Conor is only 3, he can obviously talk but not always clearly to the point where sometimes kids really don't understand him.  However he's the size of an average 5 year old so older kids think he's their age and therefore don't understand why he's, well, acting like a 3 year old. Plus everyone knows 5-8 year olds err on the side of bratty little buttheads.

Yea I said that too.

What does this have to do with my first paragraph?  I'd planned on waiting until he was a little older to get him a dog, so that he really be responsible for it.  He loves animals, (hell, he still can't believe not everyone is a vegetarian), especially dogs.

The other day we were at the park and he was, of course, running around by himself.  Occasionally looking like he wanted to join in with some other kids but quickly changing his mind.  At one point he disappeared behind the playground set for a couple minutes so I went to check on him.  He was sitting on the ground next to a lady and her dog, petting it gently and talking softly to it.  My heart melted.

Being the responsible parent that I am, obviously, I immediately said "Conor did you ask if it was okay to pet the doggie?"  The woman nodded and told me he had.  My head immediately swelled with pride that he had behaved responsibly.

In that moment, staring at my painfully shy child hanging out with a random dog instead of any of the other children, I decided to hell with it, I'm getting my boy a freaking pet.

Allow me to introduce you to the newest member of our family, Lightning McQueen