Happy Mother’s Day

May 11, 2020

At this point, we’re all taking care of somebody, whether it’s your fish or your dog, your kids, your mom, or a friend, your heart, your waistline, or your health.
I couldn’t sleep this morning. Since I became a mom almost twenty years ago, this day feels like a low-key, brunchy, Christmas. I remember the handmade cards, the scary looking eggs, the Mother’s Day at First Parish that always began with me trying to get them awake and out the door by 7 am, dangling the words “it’s Mother’s Day” like a threat.


My seventeen year old Colin recently decided to quarantine with a friend, and Katy will probably sleep until eleven. That’s fine.


They couldn’t be more different.


Colin makes choices that make me mad, crazy, sad, and defeated. He values sneakers more than books, smells like weed most of the time, and eats so much takeout, he should buy his own landfill.


He is also funny, generous, and kind. He is my boy, though he has forced me to accept he is does not belong to me anymore, and never did.
He smiles and my heart falls out of my chest. He sounds worried, I want to gather him into my arms, and make it better. I can’t.
All I can do is love him. So I do that, even when I want to smack him in the head.

Katy has been the light of my quarantine, which was not what she wanted for her sixteenth birthday. Every day she teaches me patience, while I wait for her to finish her room, her homework, her conversation. She says she learned this from me, and I tell her I’ve earned the right to keep her waiting. She thinks that’s funny, and goes back to whatever she’s doing, but does it more slowly. 

Katy was thrilled to put time limits on Facebook on my phone. She worries about the cost of everything, but vegetarian sausage, because she says that’s worth it.
She is careful, uses actual measuring spoons, understands chemistry, saves her money, and doesn’t care what people think. Except me, she cries when I snap at her.
I need to remember that even though she may seem like a remarkably mature thirty-five year old, a mother’s words have the power to sting like they did when you were six and in trouble for eating all the Oreos.
She listens when I speak, as long as it’s not too early, and I’m surprised and thrilled by this. (If I’m giving the lecture about being on time, or clean clothes, or dirty clothes, she pretends to listen, if she’s feeling kind).
Katy reminds me a lot of my mom.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

You tell me often how proud you are of me, and between you and me, I’m a bit of mess.
I’m still working out what I want to be when I grow up, my daughter acts like the parent half the time, my cabinets are more disorganized than Trump’s, and I know absolutely nothing about retirement plans. (I do have a good recipe for chicken thighs with artichoke hearts for the NYTimes I’ll send over later.)


If you say I’m amazing, I must be. You’ll always be the smartest person in the room, (with Katy right behind you.) 


I love you,
Julie

At 7 pm, I was curled on a recliner watching a new show on Netflix with Kate.

By 8, I’ll be working out, Sophie watching from the sofa. When the music gets loud, she goes outside. I hope the rain holds off.

Sofie is still confused by all the activity in the living room, and wishes we would eliminate this part of our new daily routine.

At 9, I might be on zoom with friends, trying to figure about what I can add to the conversation- does anyone really need to know about my chicken meatballs?, on the phone with family, (who actually might like to hear about the damned meatballs,) or talking about payment plans with Sheldon.

This lonely feeling comes and goes, like an ice cream craving, or bliss during the drive to work on a beautiful Monday morning.
I am not alone. I have family here, and a touchscreen away, friends send texts, call, and we promise to see each other soon. Then there is a quiet moment, when we wonder how long it will really be. It’s not uncomfortable, anymore, it’s the way things are.

Maybe it’s the weather. Maybe it’s the world. Maybe it’s just the way I need to be right now.

If you’re feeling lonely too, you have company.

Stay strong, and amazing.

Love,
Julie

For a little over a month, I’ve been doing daily posts about life under quarantine. My intention was to keep a record of how my family dealt with this weird, hard, situation.

I’m going to keep posting, but I won’t title my posts with the number of days we’ve been home.

Each day going forward is not a number, or a marker of time until this is over.

Each day is a challenge, a nightmare, a blessing, and an opportunity to figure out who I am, how to leave the world a better place, what I can do to help those I love navigate through a world for which a map does not exist.

This was not the best of days. I didn’t get a full hour of exercise so I’m surly. I took a nap in the afternoon, ate too much of Katy’s lovely lemon bars, recipe gifted from my mom, told my son to pack his stuff and move out because he didn’t put a dish in the dishwasher, and got lost in a tiny patch of woods off of Rte 138.

I also had a zoom call with my family, apologized like I meant it, and, when I click post, am going to take a dance cardio class in the living room, bluetooth speaker connected, which will probably irritate the hell out of everyone.

I know jumping around on the carpet won’t leave the world a better place, and irritating the people I just apologized to is kind of hypocritical, but, this what me taking care of myself looks like.

Take care of yourself.
Love,
julie

 

I’m at home, fussing about having to cook and opening a laptop, and you are kissing your kids goodbye and heading out to take care of the rest of us.

I’m sitting down with my family and you are eating takeout, gulping coffee, sliding some dollars into a vending machine, or looking for an open place that serves takeout and will let you use the bathroom.

I’m at home, trying to decide between sweat pants and yoga pants, and you are donning face masks you might have warn the day before, and gloves. You might have to wear that face mask for ten hours straight, on the job. You are probably worried the masks, the gloves, the sanitizer might run out.

I’m at home, dancing with my daughter.

You can’t kiss your children when you come home, until you’ve stripped off your clothes, and showered. After all that, you might not even be able to creep into their rooms to watch them sleep. You might be stranded at work, because there is just too much to do, not enough of you and too many of us.

There are so many of us, and you are on the frontlines of an impossible battle with an invisible enemy. You are working to keep us healthy and home.

Some of you are working to send some us back home from the hospital, and have witnessed what most of could never imagine. I would not last five minutes in your shoes, and yet, you go back, and do what you do.

I will never really know what it’s like for any of you, or how you do it, especially now. I know that this is a debt I can never repay.

I will do my best to make choices each day that support the work you are doing.

I am home, and hope that soon, you’ll be home, too.

Thank you.

Julie

Day Thirty Six

April 19, 2020

 
Tonight, I am grateful the kitchen is clean, and there are leftovers in the fridge, tucked inside Tupperware. The dishwasher works and is working, and I’m done with food for the day. Deciding what to eat, looking for basil, or finding the hidden parmesan, taking into account what everyone else wants to eat, cooking, plating, remembering to put Frank’s Hot Sauce by Katy’s plate, and eating.
 
I’m exhausted.
 
Tonight, I am grateful that Sophie is waiting by the door. Katy is upstairs putting on pants. The snow has melted, and the night air felt good on my skin when I stepped outside.
 
Tonight, I will walk around the block a few times, with my girls. We will talk about tomorrow, Chem homework, and what I was like at sixteen.
 
Or we might not talk at all.
 
Tonight, I am grateful to spend the rest of the evening in the company of my daughter, who is fine when the world is quiet.
She doesn’t feel conversation is as necessary as coffee. I do.
But tonight, I’m grateful I’m breathing, and that Katy still holds my hard, from time to time.
 

Day Thirty Five-

April 18, 2020

 

My friends post funny stuff, important information, photos, questions, sometimes, just check-ins or asks for recommendations about restaurants, learning at home, or where to find toilet paper.

There are sad stories of loss, and warnings from people working on the front lines who know far more than I, and deserve more than a sentence.
There are the people announcing the loss of someone they loved.
There are inspirational quotes, and old wisdom, and poems that steal my breath and give it back.

Some offer glimpses of family life- descriptions of walks in the park, cooking dinner, and video clips of first steps or birthday cakes.
Some are just a sentence or two, stolen from someone else, posted during a commercial or while waiting for someone to make popcorn. We don’t all have the same same of humor, but mostly we do.

I just post.

My updates are glimpses into moments, conversations, temporary revelations, offering tactics that seem to help me cope. I don’t think anyone’s coping. But I leave a lot out.

I’m okay. I have a home, groceries, friends, books, Spotify.

My daughter and son- I already talk about them all the damn time. Remember, you are only hearing my point of view.I don’t agree with all of their choices, but that’s not a blog, that’s a miniseries.

Today, at Tedeschis, I embarrassed my daughter by lingering at the counter, to talk about the fact we were buying instant coffee for some challenge on Instagram.
There were people behind me, I’d left some of my cash at home.

But I was so happy to speak to the woman at the register about this silly internet recipe for Folgers crystals. Katy almost died, but recovered by the time we got home.

When I write my daily reflections, I am selective. I don’t want to bring anyone down, overwhelm, I try not to seem smug, whine, or linger on what seems to be evident. I choose not to be political because I am angry, and leave it to those who are more informed than I.

FYI- Sometimes, I spend hours on Facebook reading reviews for products I’ll never buy.

Lately, I shower every three days, my eyebrows are a mess, and not in the supermodel way. They are a hirsute jungle of proof I don’t care.

When I brag about cleaning, I clean. This translates into I wipe the counters with a dirty sponge sprayed with a product that smells good and cost too much at Whole Foods.

I cried in the morning for a half an hour for something I’m not going to tell you about, but I moved on in an hour because it was tiny, in the wake of everything.

I never liked Whole Foods, and I miss it so much.

I don’t want to dance, eat spinach, meditate, work, take a shower, take a walk, clean the cupboards, don a mask, take a vitamin, or kiss my kid.
I’ve done all that, and more.
Quite simply, there is nothing else to do.


Yesterday, our neighbor sat outside on a beach blanket. She turned her face up to the sun. She was smiling, and talking on her phone.


I don’t want to sit on a blanket.


I want to have a tantrum, a roll around on the bed and wail until I’m gulping air like water, temper tantrum.
I want to scream at the heavens.
I want to punch a wall, use nasty words, and snap at someone innocent.


This is where I’m at today, Day 23, at home.
I am finding comfort doing things I don’t want to do, remembering yesterday’s sunshine and the lady next door, and wondering if I remember the words to the Lords Prayer or any prayer at all.


Love,
Jules

Day 20 Aka Sunday
There was steak for breakfast.
We all slept in.
We piled into the car, and drove to Scituate, a small town on the coast of southern Massachusetts.
We hiked thru a muddy marsh.
We visited the lighthouse and walked out on the jetty to the very end. I didn’t fall in between the cracks of the rocks, and Katy said my tiny frightened steps were adorable.
We laughed at Sophie while she rolled in the sand, and used a timer to send a picture to my mom in South Carolina.
About twenty minutes ago, when we pulled in the driveway, Katy cried- “I can’t believe I missed him!”
A friend of hers was coming to the house to drop off a slice of his birthday cake. They were going to smile at each other thru the window. She was allowed to come outside and wave after he had gotten back inside his parent’s car.
A Tupperware container was on the front stoop.
I’m looking at photos from today, and wishing it were weeks ago, and I knew what to cherish.
I’m wondering how to make her feel better, and I’m as lost as I have ever been.
Stay strong, my friends.
I’m waving at you from my window, and sending you love from my heart.

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Last night, no sleep.
Today, I woke up around 10 am. I am sleepwalking thru everything.
is there a possibility that in future days I will look back on this as respite? As a moment with family, to indulge in watching tv and books and begin conversations I’ve been putting off for a million years?
At so many points, I’ve thought-
Once I get thru the baby years, I’ll be good.
Once Colin stops going to the woods, life will be perfect.
Once I lose 20 pounds, get a promotion, go on vacation, finish my degree, things will fall into place.
It’s hard to live in a world that is entirely defined by this virus.
Yet, my world is not defined by Covid 19.
Katy is coming downstairs to dance in our living room.
The birds are noisy, the air is warm. It is spring.
My house is clean, my refrigerator is organized. I actually gave a presentation to Sheldon and Katy about where to put the cheese, the hot sauce, the vegetables; and the importance of proper placement. (I can’t believe they actually listened, and pretended they would always remember to put the salad dressing in the door. Not a chance.)
I don’t really think it’s important that the cheese goes in the bottom shelf, my floors are shiny, and my blender looks brand new.
It’s important that this isn’t another time in my life that I spend waiting for it to be over.
It’s going to be while, and time is precious.
I need to know this in my head and in my heart.
I’m working on it.
Love,
Julie

Tonight, I packed my eighteen year old son’s stuff in two trash bags and a shopping bag and left them all in by a dumpster. I walked away and didn’t look back until just before I got in. He was standing in the middle of the driveway, looking around for the bags as if they weren’t right next to him. It was ten degrees, he was wearing a tee shirt, and somebody else’s sneakers. I don’t think he believed I’d actually drop off his clothes and leave. He looked up at me, and I don’t know what his face said. Fuck you, maybe. Why? Did you remember my toothbrush? What is going to happen to me now?

My son’s smile is warmer than the sun after winter. He is funny, and he can dance. He used to play basketball for hours, and if he wasn’t on the court, he always wanted to be connected to some kind of ball. If we went for a walk on the beach, we had to throw a football. If we took the dogs for a walk, he was in charge of the tennis ball. He’d dribble in his room. He’d play basketball in the driveway and eat dinner in between shots. My son stopped smiling about two years ago.

He still lived with me until today. In sophomore year of high school, sports and school were just hobbies. Drugs took over. Doing drugs. Posting pictures of doing drugs, or lip syncing to songs about drugs. Going to the woods, to the quarries, to whoever’s house was unoccupied by parents or belonged to parents that had their own stash and shared.

I’m not going to tell the tale of then to now. I don’t know how we got from early morning cereal before the game, to begging him to wake up to go to class at a community college because a judge made it a condition of his release.

I just know my son is not here tonight because I told him not to be. He is staying at a house with a dumpster in the driveway, that reeks like weed from ten feet away. He is staying there because last night on the phone he refused to come home. His words were slurred, and sloppy, his voice didn’t belong to him. And he’s been doing drugs for a while, so there’s something new on the menu.

He promised last night he’d wake up in the morning, and go to school. I was supposed to pick him up on my way to drop his little sister off at school.  “Mom, I’ll be ready.” He’d straightened up a bit by the time our last conversation.

I woke up early, packed his toothbrush, and a change o Read the rest of this entry »