Racism has no place in society. It is not enough to be white and quietly decry events of the last few weeks not to mention the years – centuries actually – of US history, while black Americans are harassed, detained, overlooked, disrespected, profiled, injured, accused, and killed. It’s time to speak up, stand together, and fight racism, inequality, injustice, and intolerance.
I take this stand publicly on behalf of my family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, and fellow citizens of the world. I value and seek to honor the humanity in all people of color, which is something I have endeavored to do my entire life, but with an ever louder voice over the last 15 years or so. I grew up watching Sesame Street, for crying out loud, and saw nothing but beauty: no reason for hate, ever.
My heart aches over the deaths we’ve witnessed. American public education and society overall does a poor job of bearing witness to the pain of the black community and working to heal it.
No doubt, I have a lot to learn but I’m willing to do the work in big and small ways. I’m going to make mistakes with the things I say and do, and I ask for grace in the process. All I know is, what I’m witnessing in America is wrong.
We must do better.
In the words of Glennon Doyle or Hillary Clinton or whomever said it first, “There is no such thing as other people’s children.” We’re ALL God’s children, are we not?
But staying silent and letting someone else handle this battle? No more. What about you?
Here in the US, businesses are starting to open back up after weeks of pandemic lockdown. We’re about to enter a new phase in this journey together.
Today marks 60 days that my family and I have lived and worked and been schooled from home, the five of us. It’s been a cozy little cocoon these many weeks. The weather is finally starting to improve in Ohio with warmer temps, no snow, less rain. This particular way we’ve been living life is coming to an end.
We all know how easy it can be to lament the many things we’ve lost over these 60 days: people chief among them, followed by jobs and life savings, milestones like proms and graduations and weddings and spring sports, and then maybe even followed by civility among our fellow Americans.
Let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on what we’ve gained, what we vow to do differently. I don’t want to go back to the way things were.
I’ll go first. In no particular order and by no stretch all-inclusive, here’s what I have gained and want to keep in my day-to-day life:
Routine family dinner, and all this extra time with the kids
Working from home (aka, the three-minute commute) with a puppy in my lap now and then
Reconnecting with far-flung friends using any manner of video technology
Netflix (yes!) for on-demand comedy
Savings that arose from not buying gas, lunch, clothes, etc.
The ability to focus on and truly enjoy the moments that make up the here and now
The realization that some things are truly outside of our control
The gift of my tribe – my tight circle of family, friends, and coworkers who I love
Simplicity of routine and in possessions
The sound of birds singing
Extra time for more hiking
A mostly empty evening and weekend calendar to use as the mood strikes me
Immense gratitude for my health and for all front line care givers, essential workers, and creative types who found ways to inject joy into these crazy days.
How about you? I’d love to hear at least one thing you discovered or reclaimed since the pandemic and you resolve to continue, to do different than you did before the world changed.
My youngest turns 10 tomorrow. Double digits. Normally we would be having a pretty cool birthday party with his friends, maybe even hire a gaming truck to come to our neighborhood so the kids can compete to their hearts’ content.
Not this year.
Nope. We’re stuck in the house, doing the same old, same old, as we have for – what? – the last 60 days.
Oh Lord, it’s even been SNOWING here in Ohio. Mother Nature isn’t even cooperating with us.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for a kid to go through a pandemic and celebrate a birthday, although at this point I know quite a few who have. Shoot, I’m an adult, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.
But you know what? ANYBODY celebrating a birthday in a pandemic is something to celebrate.
All told, though, it won’t be that bad. Frankly, it will be pretty awesome by many standards. We ordered a cool gift online and it’s arrived. We’ll order take-out dinner from his favorite local Japanese hibachi place and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake, you know, the kind with the chocolate fudge and crunchies on the inside. I’ll make a sign for the front yard. His Dad and I will blow up balloons overnight while he’s sleeping and cover his floor with them so he has to wade through it when he wakes up, and we’ll tack crepe paper streamers down his bedroom door, to usher in the big 1-0 in style. For extra flair, I’ll put a lip stick smiley on his bathroom mirror.
Maybe we’ll even deliver breakfast in bed, since it’s entirely possible to pull it off.
I wrote to some friends to see if they’d be interested in forming one of those car parades in front of our house so he can see his old school and soccer buddies. It’s been two months after all, and who knows when he’ll see them all again for real.
I even floated the idea of a single kid sleeping over if the parent consented but hubby nixed the idea because our other two kids will beg for exceptions we are not willing to grant, so isolated we will remain for now.
My baby is 10. He’s healthy, he’s happy. He’s AWESOME. He’s loved. He knows that.
Never in my wildest imagination did I expect this is how we’d celebrate his big birthday. But we are blessed beyond measure inside Louie Lodge, no matter how much the crazy swirls around us.
It’s Mother’s Day and this photo popped up in my Facebook memories. That picture reflects a rare moment of peace during those teen years when my mother and I were constantly at odds. Her face shows it. She could barely crack a smile. I was excited about leading the flag corps in the marching band on a beautiful sunny day and the homecoming dance later that night.
She had me at 45, so that makes her 60 in this photo. Part of our troubles was the drastic age difference – two generations separating us rather than one. Part of it was her depression that swept in like a tsunami when her best friend and sister, my Aunt Nancy, died five years earlier. She had nothing left to live for after that. Not me, not her other kids, not her husband nor her grandchildren.
At home? Her care for me was overpowered by her unrelenting fear for me; she always expected me to succumb to the worst, whatever sensational crap Phil Donahue shilled out earlier in the day. She expected me to fall victim to AIDS for example, even though I was a virgin, as if I was clueless and stupid.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I was obedient and kind, sweet and studious, a straight A student who attended church, didn’t drink or do drugs, didn’t carouse at all hours of the night, and cleaned house regularly. I was president of this, that, and the other in high school, active in every club I could participate in. Nothing was good enough, though.
It was so demoralizing how she couldn’t see me for who I was and celebrate that. She died just a few years after this picture was taken, after I left for college. We never had a chance to heal our relationship. She never got to see how I turned out, that the core of who I am now was present even then. She didn’t see me. She didn’t really want me. She certainly didn’t care enough to live for me. She was definitely ready to go when she did, dying suddenly of an aneurysm.
No. She didn’t get to see that I turned out ok, way way way more than ok.
And I have had people tell me over the years, “Oh, she loved you. And she sees you now.” Maybe that’s true. But I don’t feel it. Not at all.
This was my experience being on the receiving end of mothering. My aunts were relatively distant, and much older than me anyway, like mom. I never knew my grandmothers; they were born in the 1880s and died long before I was born. Mom was my role model, and she didn’t believe in me.
I often wonder what it would be like to be loved in an uplifting, nurturing way, how I might have turned out, who I might have been had it happened. Maybe I would be able to connect with people on a more intimate level than I do.
I’ll never know. Mother’s Day brings a certain kind of undeniable pain, pain I rarely talk about. I can’t pretend this didn’t happen, though.
I can’t pretend I’m not jealous either, over the incredible relationships so many of you enjoyed and still do. Don’t get me wrong: I am incredibly happy for my friends who have this experience. It’s just….the cognitive dissonance over the years, learning what a nurturing mother-daughter relationship is supposed to feel like versus what I experienced is a shock.
And how I ache for my friends who are starting to lose their beautiful mothers 30+ years after I did. I saw the love between you both all these many years. I grieve for you. That kind of love, even though it changes form, is a forever kind of love. That’s how it should be. And I worry that I can’t be much of an emotional support for you at these times because your grief is undoubtedly more acute, far different than mine.
I don’t talk about my grief. It comes up on Mother’s Day, and occasionally on her birthday and every now and then when I am reminded of the physical and emotional scars she left in her wake.
It’s a double-edged sword talking about my grief. My approach for the first 25 years after her death was silence. You know, my attempt along the lines of “Honor thy father and thy mother.” I try hard to find things to honor, and harder yet to find things to smile about, so mostly I don’t talk about her.
Yet I’ve learned that keeping your feelings bottled up is not healthy. It’s human to talk. It’s human to feel.
And well, I write. I write to express, I write to understand. And finally I write to share, because I’ve learned it helps other people feel not quite so alone and freakish.
So if this resonates with you, be comforted in knowing that no, not everyone gushes with overflowing love and warmth for the woman that raised them. Sometimes the only emotion that remains is grief for what could have been, what should have been. I can’t tell you how many times I cried over what was. I’ve had to learn to accept it.
Besides, she knew then, in that photo, that I was a writer, five years already. She read my diaries while I was at school, so I learned long ago there was no such thing as privacy. My privacy was violated constantly. My concept of trust was betrayed from the get-go. What difference does it make if I write about her now?
What’s that they say about writers? If you don’t want a writer to say bad things about you, you should have treated them better. LOL
If you know someone who had this experience, know that they are struggling today. Struggling to reconcile their experience with what feels like everyone else’s. Struggling with the loss of the person who is supposed to be your #1 cheerleader, your #1 confidant, your rock. Your mom. Struggling with the loss of what never was: that love, those words of wisdom, the laughs, the pride, the hugs, the inside jokes, the forgiveness, and the help that comes with seeing you graduate college, start your career, get married, buy a house, have a child, have another, and get promoted.
It’s not all bad though. Even though this is what I chose to write about today, it isn’t 100% of my focus. I channel nearly everything I’ve got into being the best mom I can possibly be to my three. Let nothing but love and support flow from here on out and celebrate the beautiful humans I get to mother, with the best father on the planet.
I really should have taken a before and after picture.
As a mother of three, I’ve had more than a few of those heart-sinking moments when you witness something expensive get ruined right before your eyes. Take, for example, light beige wall to wall bedroom carpet, your charming youngest son, and really awesome neon green slime he got as a gift from somebody we’re obviously no longer friends with.
Say some of that slime falls out of the jar onto the carpet in not one, but two places underneath some furniture and you don’t notice it until it’s good and dry, sunk deep into the fibers. Contoured slime, like the fibers in the rug. A work of art, really.
Because, of course, that’s what would happen when you can’t watch his every move 24 x 7. And whilst he be charming, he’s a sneaky one.
Your heart sinks. You call the carpet guys – you know, the ones that specialize in homicide cleanup – and they won’t touch it with a ten foot pole. You figure your only option is to replace the carpet.
And that brings joy, because we’re independently wealthy and all.
Say you let, oh I don’t know, one, two, maybe even three years go by. You feel defeated every time you enter that kid’s room. You tell yourself, it’s a mark of childhood, adds character to the room. Louie Lodge is LIVED IN, don’t ya know.
And then it finally hits you, after several weeks in a pandemic-induced home-bound stupor, to Google it. Surely some other mother has faced this battle and emerged victorious.
Holy smokes, peeps: hot water and vinegar in a 1:3 ratio does the trick. I didn’t even bother moving the furniture, I just used a wet washcloth and rubbed until it was gone. It didn’t even stain. Petrified, neon-green slime.
47 days. So far, it’s been 47 days. Infectious disease expert Michael Osterholm says we’re in the 2nd inning. Let that sink in for a moment.
Maybe he’s right. Let’s see: we’re physically safe. You could argue we bunted and made it to first base, maybe even stole second.
But I’d rather not be playing baseball. I’d much rather be sitting in the park on a sunny afternoon drinking a beer, eating a dog, and cheering on our favorite team. Wouldn’t we all?
But oooooh no. We’re playing ball. And if it had to guess, we just arrived at the top of the 2nd. I hear the famous words of Tom Hank’s character Jimmy Dugan in A League of Their Own,
“There’s no crying in baseball.”
I want to cry but the tears aren’t flowing.
The monotony of it all. Oh, the monotony! Every day like the rest. I get up, clean up, grab some caffeine, and within 20 minutes tops I sit in that home office chair and pound away at the computer just like the day before. The days are a blur.
Lent? It came, it went. Easter arrived. I hardly knew it. I know some people really embrace Lent. They slow down, get reflective and spiritual. I’m not that person. I slowed down in other ways, to be sure. But this year? I missed the rituals and opportunity to commune with other people on the Lenten journey. Deep down, it became clear that it is something I actually crave. I’m embarrassed it took a pandemic for me to realize it.
School is “back in session”, online. You would hardly know it either. My kids check their assignments on Monday and complete most of what is required for the week in just a few hours. Granted we have a bit more visibility to what the younger one is required to do but it doesn’t feel like much of a work load. No way are they getting the same level of instruction as they would in a physical classroom, however in no way am I blaming the teachers or the school administration. Parents are a child’s greatest teacher, so it is my job to fill in whatever gap I believe is missing.
The teachers and administration have to develop and issue the assignments fairly. Nevertheless, I’m sure there are kids on an individualized education plan (IEP) who aren’t getting the support they need. I feel bad for those students and their parents, but this chaos was thrust on everyone. We can only hope that the education and guidance we give our kids in other ways makes up for what they may be missing out on these few months. I know it doesn’t but it helps to show some grace toward parents and kids who are struggling now.
A few days ago Ohio officially announced that children will not return to physical classrooms for the remainder of this academic year. We had a hunch that would be true the first day of social distancing, 47+ days ago when the governor broke the news about the shut-downs. The school news still hit like a gut punch when it became real. While my heart breaks for seniors who may miss the rituals of their final year of public schooling, what really got to me was the realization that the monotony of the last few weeks will remain virtually unchanged until August, quite possibly. The only difference is the weather will be slightly warmer.
I’m not kidding. Chances are excellent I’ll continue to work from home because I can do my job just fine from here. My percussion teacher husband can continue his lessons online. We will have to come up with some seriously creative ideas for the kids to keep them occupied this summer. It’s daunting to think about. My fear is boredom and plenty of food to eat without self-discipline and constant supervision can make for a dangerous combination.
I feel for my friends, family, and coworkers with little ones, trying to navigate work under these circumstances. I know how exhausted I was when things were normal and I left them for 9-10 hours a day. Being with them 24×7 every day, trying to parent them while working? I hope we all lean toward grace for people in that situation.
I’ve tried socializing online. Held a variety of “happy hour” sessions with friends, family, coworkers, using whatever tools are at our disposal: Facetime, Messenger, Zoom, Teams. People as far away as England and Moscow, Florida, Cincinnati, Lexington, Raleigh, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh. I really do need to chat with my friend in Japan next. I am pretty glad this way of connecting exists even if it means sitting for a spell yet some more while we chat.
Although I am definitely not bored, I am helping co-produce a recurring Zoom webcast for a doctor friend who is sponsoring women’s health conversations. It’s been fun to put my webcast producer and interviewer hat back on.
I’m grateful for guided meditation, books, walks outside, my sweet little doggie, take-out, video-conferencing, social media, Amazon Music, and Netflix guiding me through this time, and for all the curiosity and twists of fate that led me to experience a pandemic with these stress outlets at my fingertips. I may or may not have become an Outlander fanatic over the last two weeks or so.
I remember when this whole thing started, I challenged people to do something meaningful with the time. Now I realize how ridiculous that was. Not one soul needs pressure, to feel bad about what they are or are not doing. Everyone has their own circumstances with an inherent set of challenges built in. We do what we can do, nothing more. No guilt, just grace.
The only goal? Survive. Just make it through to the other side of this, however long it takes.
By the grace of God, the five of us are still hanging strong here at Louie Lodge, today being Day 27. Here’s what I know:
The organization genes run strong in my 12 year old daughter. She has taken it upon herself to start cleaning out drawers and cupboards in the kitchen, God bless her. You know those utensil drawers you can’t quite close because it’s overflowing with stuff? Marie Kondo would be proud.
I’m so grateful we all have a small, adorable Maltipoo to keep us company in this craziness. One of our favorite nicknames for her is Pupperton, which sometimes morphs into Snuggleton, and recently after a bath: Flufferton. Just in case someone in the house isn’t feeling all that snuggly, we have our pup to turn to. Seriously, thank God for her.
There’s no getting around it: March was a sobering month but nothing like the prospect of flipping the calendar to April with the frightening thought that some of us won’t live to see the end of the month. April 15 in the US is predicted to be the peak and as we entered the month, April 19 was supposed to be Ohio’s peak.
However, the Ohio models show that our social distancing efforts are working. We might be a week or two out from the peak which has plummeted to 1,600 new cases a day from recent estimates of 9,800 per day.
That’s incredibly good news. We are flattening the curve. To quote Dr. Amy Acton:
School resumed remotely, in some fashion this week. The kids received their assignments from each teacher as of 9 am Monday in an online portal our school district uses, and they have a week to complete them. Teachers are holding “office hours” to answer questions and some have posted videos to explain concepts or lecture. It’s not quite the same thing as the real thing of course but we’ll see how it goes. I doubt they will return to physical classrooms this academic year. Some kids in our school district do not have access to computers but they can get access to district-provided Chromebooks which is wonderful.
Dance classes have resumed, fully online too. Ryun continues to pick up a few more private students for online classes and my work continues online en force.
I really haven’t left the house other than the occasional walk with our dog. What I have done is taken the time I have otherwise spent writing using it instead to connect using Facebook Messenger video calling with a friend in Moscow I haven’t spoken to in over 25 years, and I’ll be doing the same with another friend in London this upcoming weekend. And I probably ought to do the same with another 30-year friend in Japan since they just went into a state of emergency there. It’s amazing that technologies exist to allow us to do these sorts of things.
And as if things weren’t interesting enough, we awoke at midnight to the emergency signal on our cell phones advising us to take immediate shelter in the basement, which we did for 30 minutes while an F1 tornado promptly touched down in our town. We were spared but a few houses a mile from our house did not fare so well.
A few things brought a huge smile to my face this week, as it did for a lot of people. The first Randy Rainbow’s tribute to Andrew Cuomo. If you haven’t seen his parodies, you are missing out on some seriously clever entertainment. The part where he mentions Chris Cuomo made me belly laugh for a full five minutes. Did I ever need that.
And for the record: seriously, Chris has got to pull through.
A local cartoonist whose name I wish I knew so I could give credit created this parody of Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton using the theme song from Laverne and Shirley as the basis.
I strongly recommend John Krasinski’s Some Good News, already on Episode 2, which brought tears of joy to my eyes in that it allowed me to remember when I saw Hamilton on Broadway.
And finally for the pure feel-good vibe of it, is this family lip-synching to Hold My Hand. Watch Dad. I mean, daughter is pretty darn good but the tree that apple fell from is impressive!
Seek out the joy, peeps. Seek out and share the joy in these crazy times.