I See You

IMG_3618

Invisible – (def.) Unable to be seen.

As a child, I played a superhero game. If you could have any superpower what would it be? The choices included: invisibility, flying, superhuman strength, x-ray vision and many others. We chose our special power and argued why our power was the best. We told each other what we would do if we could fly, disappear or see through walls.

Now as an adult, I am struck by invisibility. The more I consider being invisible, it becomes clear that it is not a super power at all. As I observe the world, my people, my friends and myself, so much loneliness, violence and unhappiness stem from the noxious feeling of being unseen.

 *****

The baby screams, giant tears roll down his plum colored cheeks. His shrieks pierce the air. He won’t nurse. He won’t sleep. He won’t stop. His mother bounces up and down, jogging in place and holding him in her arms. Her tears join his.

“I see you,” she whispers. “You exist. I see you. I hear you. I love you.” Her endless bouncing creates a rhythm behind her words.

 *****

An elderly man sits hunched over on a park bench. He closes his eyes, tilting his face to the sun. He lives alone. Every day he circles the park and sits on this bench. This year more friends are dead than alive. His wife is dead. The pendulum of life shifting, as he navigates his closing chapters. A young man sits down beside him and asks him about his day. He waits for an answer. He listens to the old man’s story.

I see you.

*****

A cool autumn morning, a mother heaves a 40lb double stroller into the back of her dirty minivan while the baby sobs in his car seat. She attempts to slam the trunk and the stroller topples down on her leg. She swears. The baby cries. Tears fill her eyes. An older woman slowly walks a straggly mutt down the opposite sidewalk. The creak of her knees is almost audible. “A mother’s strength,” she marvels as she watches the bewildered young mother.

Her words are a gift.

I see you.

 *****

A doctor knocks on the door of her patient’s room. A woman sits on the reclined patient chair. Her legs stick to the tissue, separating her from the plastic seat. Her tired eyes scan the doctor’s face, anxious to hear the test results. The doctor sits down beside her. She asks her how she feels? The doctor listens and talks to the patient the way she would want a physician to talk to her or her family member. The results aren’t good. The patient’s eyes fill with tears. Her doctor grabs her hand. “I am so sorry,” she says.

She hugs her patient.

I see you.

*****

A woman walks through a busy mall. Tears distort her vision. Grief guts her. She feels invisible. A part of her is gone and will never return. She wonders about his last thoughts, words and feelings. A stranger approaches her and looks at the woman’s swollen red face. The stranger doesn’t cringe at the sight of snot streaming from her nose. “Can I help you?” The stranger asks, wrapping her arms around the adult who feels more like a child.

“He died,” the woman gasps.

“I am so sorry.” The stranger whispers and holds her crumpled body.

I see you.

 *****

Every day he works. Every day he leaves the house while his wife and children sleep, buried in stuffed animals and down comforters. He drives to the office. This man could be anyone. He types notes, sees patients, writes briefs, calls clients, bags groceries, builds houses, fixes pipes, answers phones and sells stocks. For years he gives 100% of himself to his job with no recognition.

The daily grind, is this what life is about? Will these be my days for the next 30 years? He thinks. He is drained. He feels like an invisible cog in the corporate machine.

Then his supervisor visits his office. “Wow, I’m impressed. The corporate office recognizes how hard you work. It’s impressive. What can we do for you?”

I see you.

*****

She sits on her couch. The children play on the floor. The house is a mess, half finished puzzles, broken crayons, papers cut into millions of odd shaped slices cover the hard wood floor. The baby nurses, sucking every last bit of energy out through her chest. Disappointment settles on her shoulders. She wanted the house to be clean before her husband got home. Dinner is not ready. Bills cover the dark granite counters. This is my job, she thinks, and today I failed.

Her husband walks in the door. He puts his coat and bag down on the counter stool.  He walks to his wife on the couch and kisses her head. “Thank you,” he says. “Thank you for working so hard today.” His words, a balm, lift the weight from her shoulders. “Let’s order pizza,” he says, cradling the phone in his hands.

I see you.

*****

A little girl sits on the pavement during recess. She picks up a piece of sidewalk chalk and draws a picture, right next to the four square court. Some girls in her class giggle, bolting by her in a streak of color. She loves to play but she doesn’t know how to join the group. She sits on the pavement, feeling invisible.

Then, a girl with short blonde hair approaches her. She wears a Star Wars t-shirt and pink pants. “Race me,” she shouts. The quiet girl on the pavement hesitates, but then jumps up and runs.

The challenge to race – a life raft for a lonely girl in a sea of children.

I see you.

*****

Recognition, empathy and connection, small acts that have the power to heal marriages, friendships, employee dissatisfaction and improve foreign policy. Everyone feels better when they are SEEN.  A little act that goes so far.

Oh, if we practiced SEEING each other – what a wonderful world it would be.

It’s Been a Long Time

Image

Wow, so I haven’t written in a long time.  It has been at least a few weeks.  I haven’t sat at the computer and felt inspired to say anything.  When I have sat down at the computer I’ve been distracted by online shopping and other nonsense that keeps me occupied until my free time has flown by and all I can show is yet another obscure order from Amazon.

Part of my not writing has stemmed from not sleeping.  My almost four year-old chose this summer to stop napping.  Simultaneously, she has become petrified of the dark.  The minute I step away from her bed in the evening she starts panicking and crying.  This draws out the bedtime routine for at least a couple of hours until I am physically and emotionally exhausted by the time her eyes shut.  She then continues to be up throughout the night with nightmares and whatever else.  Her, and therefore my lack of sleep has caused me to use any restful time during the day to actually lie down, zone out, and do absolutely nothing.

I’ve struggled with whether blogging is the appropriate medium for my writing.  I’ve enjoyed sharing my writing publicly, but it is a double-edged sword.  I appreciate the feedback from friends, acquaintances, and strangers, but simultaneously have spent endless hours consumed with how my writing or feelings affect those around me.  It is impossible to write honestly when one is consumed with the emotional repercussions of one’s writing on others.  And to be honest, writing publicly throws me into a state of heightened angst, my lack of internet popularity leaves me questioning my writing and myself, which admittedly is very juvenile.  I don’t like Fajitas, so why am I publicly airing my feelings and writing?  Clearly, I have to work on buoying my self-esteem, but is it worth sharing my honest self with strangers over the internet?  Hmm, I am struggling with that question.

Well, now for the life update, I bought a minivan.  I never thought I would drive a minivan, not in my wildest dreams.  I swore them off.  If I needed a bigger car then I would definitely buy a larger SUV, but then there you are with two toddlers in car seats, two large dogs, and an infant on the way, and you start looking at larger vehicles. Here’s my thinking. First, large SUVs are much more expensive than minivans.  Second, large SUVS gas mileage sucks.  Third, lifting toddlers and preschoolers up and into large SUVs sucks.  Fourth, if you have a third row of seats up in a large SUV there is no trunk space.  Fifth, having two kids three and under is hard, and having three kids four and under is going to be harder.  I chose to make my life a little bit easier.  Minivans are convenient, on a busy street the kids can climb out on the sidewalk side.  If there’s a busy parking lot, get them all in, press a button, and the doors miraculously close.  Further, mine is kind of speedy and drives like a car.

“I can’t believe we are getting a minivan,” I sighed to my husband.  “How have we reached this point?  I can’t even pretend to be cool anymore.”

“Why, because you looked so cool before, driving in your Subaru station wagon with two huge car seats in the back seat?”  He said a broad smile on his face.

I guess I just had an inflated self-perception of my cool factor.  But when my daughter picks up a play purse and throws it over her shoulder and calls it her diaper bag because she never sees purses, maybe I should’ve questioned my cool factor? Or when I ask my husband if I should get a haircut and he comments that a cut really only changes the length of my ponytail, maybe there is a problem?  My image is being dragged through the trenches of pregnancy, infants, and parenting toddlers.  I know some moms are able to do it all and look fashionable, but I am not one of them.  I have high hopes that when we are out of car seats, I may be trading the minivan in for a super cool car.  But for now, I drive a minivan.  I bought a black minivan because I think a minivan looks less mini-vanish in black. A black minivan equals cool …

It turns out it was a very good thing we purchased a mini-van, a couple of days later my wonderful husband had a basketball accident and tore his achilles.  Now we have his stroller (pictured above), his crutches, along with the kids stroller, two kids, and two dogs to load into the car.  We require no less than a minivan to sanely navigate this family through the next month until he can get behind the wheel again.  This injury could be a blog post in and of itself and adds a colorful dimension to my third pregnancy.  I am thankful that this handicap is temporary and very aware that it could all be a lot worse (we are lucky), but being the only parent that can drive and go up and down stairs freely  definitely sucks, especially when your youngest gets a stomach bug.  My husband is handling it better than I could’ve ever imagined, he keeps wheeling along with hardly a complaint.

The third and most exciting update is we are expecting a little boy!  My youngest insisted there was a baby boy in my belly, the oldest insisted on a girl.  I told them they would find out whether they were having a brother or sister depending on the flavor of ice cream we brought home after the ultrasound (vanilla =youngest favorite flavor =boy / strawberry=oldest favorite flavor=girl).  We ate vanilla ice cream cones.  Whenever anyone asks my youngest about her impending baby brother she raves about vanilla ice cream, and they have no clue why.  I am so excited to be having a boy.

On a side note, a week ago I went to the zoo with the girls.  My oldest used to be terrified of the carousel.  She had me stand by her animal and spot her.  Yesterday, my youngest hugged my neck, “me scared,” she said and wouldn’t let me put her on the leopard next to her sister.  A zoo summer camp was in session and four year-olds surrounded us on the carousel with their counselors watching on.  My big girl climbed up onto the African Wild Dog all by herself.  I stood by her and out of habit put my hand on her back, “You look good up there,” I whispered and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Mom, can you and sister stand over there,” she pointed at the sedentary carriage a couple of rows behind her. “I want to do this all by myself.”  I smiled hugging my littlest baby who next summer will probably be saying the same thing to me.  Here I was the mom, bringing my four year-old girl’s “cool points” down already.  She smiled at the boy who had climbed on the leopard next to her.  Uh oh, here we go, as I saw it all fast forwarding several years into the future.  I sat down with her sister in the carriage and smiled to myself, this growing independence, this is how it’s supposed to be.

“Look at your big sister,” I said and my baby snuggled close and kissed me on the arm.  Around and around we went.  Up and down and around and around went my oldest.  All I could do was watch.

Later that evening, driving home from meeting my new nephew and witnessing the my girls’ excitement as they held him for the first time, my oldest said, “Mom, can I drive a “Mini-band” when I grow up?”  (She wants to inherit my minivan rather than her dad’s new SUV).   I laughed, thinking I still carried some cool points in my almost four year-olds’ eyes, (besides the minivan is kind of cool).  “Of course, you can drive my mini-band when you grow up,” I said, “I will happily pass it along.”

I Choose to Write

Image

Sometimes it is hard to write.  I love to write and put my thoughts on paper.  I love to process my feelings on a computer and articulate the many things that are going on inside my head.  But sometimes it is hard to do what makes us feel good, it is hard to pull yourself out of exhaustion, it is hard to give yourself credit for having anything at all to say.  Today I am choosing to write.  I don’t have much to say, but I am writing because I want to keep writing and sometimes it is so easy to let what makes us feel good slip away.

Starting this blog enabled me to connect with people in a whole new way.  I expose myself through my writing, imperfections and all, and often in response I receive a message from a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger that expresses solidarity, understanding, or thoughtfulness and we both feel less alone.  I worry whether posts seem too dark, too down, or too vulnerable. But every mother feels these ups and downs, none of us are immune to them or perfect even though we may pretend to be.  I love parenthood, but it is hard work.  I wonder when I discuss how hard it is whether people interpret me as unhappy or unappreciative.  I love my girls and my job raising them more than anything in the world, but in becoming a mom (or a dad) there is a lot that is given up.

My days are filled with the yin and the yang – laughter and tears, energy and exhaustion, lightness and darkness, levity and weight, confidence and self-doubt.  Parenthood exacerbates the emotional extremes.  It pushes me beyond myself and my own personal feelings, experiences, and ideas. Toddlers don’t care whether I got enough sleep the night before, I must feed them, play with them, and love them with all my energy and heart, day in and day out.

My daughters bring me joy every day, as they splash in the pool, jump through the waves, and lose themselves in the sheer abandonment of the moment on a beach vacation.  Happiness, as I watch them circle the house, pretending together they are “lost boys” traveling through Neverland.  Pure joy, as we sit outside in the afternoon sun our feet in a baby pool, shooing the dogs, and devouring fruit popsicles.  Golden moments in time, as my big girl proudly walks our pet basset (the first baby) on a leash around the park chasing her dad, her baby sister running by her side.  But, oh there is unadulterated heartache as I suffer their pain, hearing my big girl cry because of the rejection of another child or a lack of friends on the playground.  To live these buried traumas again through my daughters is beyond painful.  My heart shutters at the thought of middle school and high school – literally shutters. I need to toughen up.

So, today I am choosing to write.  I choose to write because it is good for me.  I choose to write because one day I aspire to be a writer.  I choose to write even when inspiration has not hit me.  I choose to write because it has been a hard month.  I choose to write and not question whether anyone cares to read it or what they think (easier said than done).  I choose to write though we’ve been up at 5am for close to three weeks straight.  I choose to write because I haven’t in weeks.  I choose to write and not edit since the girls took shockingly short naps.  I am choosing to write and today that is what is important.

Image