On being a “TERRIBLY” supportive mother


I’m a terrible mother. Horrible. There, now that we got that out of the way, let me tell you why I am a terrific one.

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Our Project Semicolon tattoos

Today I took my daughters over to the local tattoo shop and we got matching tattoos. Yes, yes, TERRIBLE mother. I thought we established that already? Sheesh.

Listen, I know this place, I know the owner. It’s a clean, decent, reputable establishment that is not in some dark alleyway. Give me some credit will you? Listen to the reason and you will agree with the terrific part, (or not) but it’s what you SHOULD have done if you were me, living my life.

If you haven’t heard of Project Semicolon, then let me educate you. It is quite literally a full out movement of hope, all begun by one woman who was simply intending to honor her dad. It is a tattoo or even just a sharpie marker tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist or other area. Simple, small, and yet crazy powerful. We’ve done the sharpie version. We are ready to commit to a permanent version.

The website www.projectsemicolon.com says it this way… “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.” They are a faith based movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who struggle daily with depression, suicide, addiction and self-injury.  Their sole existence is to bring awareness to mental illness and to encourage, love and inspire those who live with it or even just love someone who does.

The semicolon is a conversation starter. You see a tattoo of a semicolon on a wrist and you say, “what’s that about.” The door is now open to discuss what our lives here are filled with. It’s filled with hard things, messy things, scary things, but more than anything else, it’s filled with choices that include getting up each new day, moving forward, pushing on, and knowing that each new day is not a day done alone, but surrounded by a supportive and loving family who “gets it.”

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

Linds watches as she has her tattoo done. She wanted to be the first to go, since today was for her.

My daughter, Lindsey, struggles and battles Bipolar Disorder and OCD along with some anxiety and a personality disorder. Each day is a hard day. photo 2That’s just a fact. But she is still choosing to get up each day and face it. Her sister and I both love her in ways that only a sis and mom can. It’s a girl thing. We have a wicked tight bond, the three of us, and when I introduced this website to Lindsey her whole face lit up. Her sister was indignant that she was left out and she demanded to be a part of it. I told her I never intended her to be anything but included. I just hadn’t shown her the website yet!

For warriors, support is critical. It’s for important to know someone has their back. Lindsey will never wonder if her sister and I have her back. She will look at her hand and she will see her tattoo and know that the three of us are connected in a special way, remember our day of bonding, needing only to trace it to gain some needed strength.

photo 3Along with the semicolon tattoo, I am gifting each girl with a little heart, about the size of a pinky finger. It is to be placed anywhere they want it, but in a place they can readily see  I used to use a sharpie and pit one on their hand or arm when they were scared about a test, school, or when they just needed a “mom hug” to take with them as they went off on their day. This time we are making it washable and forever. It’s a personal reminder that they ARE my heart; that they carry with them my unconditional love everywhere they go. I love them forever, always, and that there is NOTHING they can ever do that will make me stop loving them. Simply NOTHING.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

Alli distracts herself with her phone while she is inked. Nothing compares to broken bones and the pain of soccer injuries and physical therapy. This was nuthin.

It’s a visual reminder that they can come home, no matter what choices or mistakes they might have made in life, and to know that I’ll have their backs. Life is messy. Choices are hard to make. Sometimes we make the wrong ones. Come home, anyway. I’m always gonna be there. I don’t care if they are 18, 28, or 58. That tattoo won’t wear off and neither will my love for them. If at some point they need me, and I am no longer here residing on this green earth, then they only need look at it to know I’m still only a heartbeat away, loving them from above, still supporting them.

Yes, I took my two daughters, who are 15 and 16, to the tattoo shop and we got tattoos, but the question wasn’t ever, “how could I,” but instead, “how could I NOT?”  My beautiful girls are here and this is not in “memory” of anyone. This is to strengthen us and to empower us to do hard things, because we are still alive to do them.

There is a beautiful song I will play them. An amazing friend sent me the link the other day and I have been in love with it ever since.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OCUzqbAZq3E

The refrain goes like this:

This is not the end of me.

This is the beginning.

Hold on.

I am still alive…

As long as we are alive, we are going to live like it. We are going to remember that this is just the beginning, choose to not end our sentences, to just hold on tight, get through the night, and believe that this is not the end. No one has to get it all perfect, or get it all right, we just have to get up each day and try. Put one foot in front of the other, hold on tight, ride the ride, let the day have it’s way, and best of all…come home again.

I love you girls. We can do this. We’ve got this!

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First World Probs


First World ProbsI found myself with a couple of days that were not slammed with a bunch of Mama To-Do’s, errands, or work. Before life could come and snatch them up for the mistake, I quickly penciled in some massive time blocks for ME time. I declared a good choice simply because it was good for my mental health.

To be fair, this time was not to be used frivolously, but instead carefully for planning and actual writing of assignments and articles, and to work on upcoming projects and even that book that I’ve had on the back burner for months… that stretched into a full year now. Two days with five hour time blocks. It felt like a retreat while never leaving town. All I had to do was to get up and manage to get out of the house.

Ah! There’s the kicker usually. That’s usually my hang up, even though my kids are teens, not toddlers. So when I got away scott-free? I was lulled into the assumption that I was home free! It was THEN that the chaos began. It followed me. It nipped at my heels, attempting to throw me off my mission. But I am not easily tossed, my foul and trip-happy friend. I will fight for my writing days at every turn. They just don’t come around often enough to let them go so easily.

I had headed out to my favorite local coffee hub and after circling the parking lot twice, longingly looking into the windows like a reverse pet shop puppy. I told myself unconvincingly that I didn’t really want to be there anyway. It was busy and crowded and would be full of glorious chatter, I mean distracting chatter, and I was better off somewhere quiet. Yes. I would find the quiet.

I turned into traffic and thought of the next closest place I still loved. I mentally crossed off a spot I had already passed that was packed with tot totting mommas and their sanity dates. It was pouring down rain and the sunny spots outdoors that I could use other days would be off limits this day.

I went past a tiny Starbucks, knowing that the few seats it had would be more than filled with the people in the parking lot and in line. A sudden thought of inspiration hit. The bookstore! I swung around, parked, and dashed into the wonderful aroma of new books and music swirling overhead. Yes. This would do.

With my pick of the entire seating area in the coffee nook, I choose a little table out of the way. I set up shop and congratulated myself. This was gonna be a great day! I got started and began the planning. I wanted all the assignments on a calendar. I have a habit of not noticing them when left to my phone’s list. I was feeling proud of my organizational awesomeness when I was rudely disrupted by two men talking loudly. They decided to plant themselves at the table next to me.

I am not sure how I manage to be a magnet, but seriously, I could have chosen any seat in that place and they would’ve sat next to me sure as anything. I’m sorry, sir, but you and your conversations are not interesting to me nor do I want to nod your direction in camaraderie. Sorry to disappoint.

They proceeded to make business calls loudly, clear their throats as with an annoying vocal tic vs cold need. I wasn’t sure I had the ability to be boldly rude and move to the other side of the cafe. I dreamed of doing so, since I’d forgotten my headphones. I sat with my fingers quite literally in my ears, hair draped over my face like a curtain, attempting to block it all out.

I was set to move, to actually do it after a long, slow, steamy burn when a frazzled mom and three kids plopped down in the middle of the cafe and took up residence. She’d had her limit; they’d reached theirs an hour ago from the look, but by God, they’d come for story time and they were gonna stay and do it, or else Mama would be joining her kids for a hearty meltdown.

Listen, I get it. Okay? I got three kids who used to drive me to frazzle daily, and while I wanted to send sweet smiles of understanding her way, well, for once this patient and usually understanding woman had had her own personal limit and needed her alone time, alright? So NO. I ignored them and did not send her sweet “I get you” looks; instead letting my burn become a blaze.

The screaming, quite simply, broke me. It fueled my ability to pack up my crap and reprimand myself for such an early celebration, and make my exit. I gunned it over to the target across the street and entered the empty Starbucks outlet; planting myself again. There I made it a whole ten blissful minutes before being found by the retail-therapy shopping moms. An ankle-biter sized foot race path was apparently plotted along my table side, unbeknownst to me, and again, I packed it up after trying to outlast them. Once a third mom joined an already crowded table, I realized this was not going to be a quick stop for mom’s caffeinated cleanser.

I plopped down across this latest parking lot in an Arby’s, bought a drink so I could use the booth without guilt, and finished the last piece I was trying to get out of my head before heading home. Instead of refreshed, I felt like I’d just run a half marathon in an attempt to get my 500 words out.

Truth be told, I accomplished a lot, I actually slugged out three of those, but I wanted more. I had so much more in me to do. But hey, tomorrow was another day and I’d have another try at this. Take heart, girl.

So, seriously, if you’re still ready my rant, you’ll laugh at this …

On the advice of a friend about their past favorite writing spot, I decided to begin today there. “Oh there’s never anyone there, so it’s really quiet.” Here’s the thing about quiet spots no one is ever at…they go out of business. I sat in the parking lot and was forced to laugh at the stupidity of it all.

I am now sitting in the McDonald’s across the street from the would be wonderful place and writing a rant.

Next up? The library. I know, I know. Why not just START there? Well because I love coffee houses, and out of the way spots. I love to sip on a beverage and think while looking out a window at the world passing by. If you are local, and you love coffee houses, tell me your favorite, because I plan to look up a lot of new ones this summer and fall. Hopefully my old favorites are not overloaded every free day I have, but in case they are, I’ll have some back up plans!

I know, I know… first world problems.