Container Garden Week 3

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The container garden is flourishing! Seriously. Look at that zucchini plant! And the tomato plants have really put on some height and additional stems. There are even buds on the pepper plant despite what looks like a pest problem.

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I picked up some organic insecticidal soap to help with that. Hopefully, I’ll see an improvement this week. The basil I screaming for me to use it all up, but the whole family has recently started the South Beach Diet so my intense urges to make pasta and smother it in fresh basil and olive oil will have to wait two more weeks. I think I’ll shoot for pesto instead. I’ve seen recipes that sub broccoli and other heartier goods for the pine nuts (nut allergy here) so we’ll see what I can come up with.

And to my great surprise, my cilantro (or spinach if I am not remembering correctly) has sprouted a week after I gave up hope!

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Eva continues to want to water the garden zealously… Tough to explain that all the rain we’ve had in the past few days means we don’t need to, but the grass in the yard probably appreciates her efforts. Her joy in this endeavor is just so beautiful. Let’s just hope she doesn’t pick all the tomato flowers for a bouquet!

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Container Garden Beginnings

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Eva and I have a container garden! We have tomatoes, peppers, basil, zucchini and mint in the works and some cilantro, spinach, and marigolds just seeded.

This new obsession was a Mother’s Day gift from a wonderful friend. I check the plants every morning. Eva talks to her marigold seedling. I love breathing in the gentle scent of mint on our deck with my morning coffee in hand. It might be my new form of religion.

Anyone surprised I’m taking up gardening? I don’t like getting dirty. I wear dresses and heels nearly every day of the week. But a bag of potting soil and a couple of seed packets really get me excited apparently.

Let’s call it another manifestation of embracing motherhood and the changes it has wrought in me. These plants are an investment of time. I have to remember to take care of them! Let’s hope we can last the next 30-50 days until harvest. I can’t wait to see Eva’s excitement over out first tomato fruit or a batch of homemade basil pesto. Seriously, that is going to be a thrilling mommy moment.

A new adventure has begun!

With Love, Your Momma

To My Daughter on Mother’s Day,

I told you in the car yesterday that I couldn’t be Momma if it hadn’t been for you. And you said, “Mom, I’m just Eva. You’re the mommy!”

You’re right, sweet one. You are your own person. You are Eva and I am Abby. But being your Momma is the best and most wonderful privilege. It does not define my existence, but you have shaped me and helped me grow in ways I never anticipated.

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From the moment I saw your perfect form on the ultrasound, to holding you as a newborn, to witnessing your first step, to you mastering all manner of tasks and expressions, you have taken me on a journey that I have cherished every single day–even the tough ones.

Right now, I adore how you love your family with such a sweet constancy. You are always talking about the people you care about. Oly, G, Auntie, and our many friends. I giggle inside when you talk about anything that happened in the past because it was always “yesterday.” You approach everything with a vengeance! So strong, so confident, and so very beautiful.

Your face absolutely glows with delight when you accomplish something new. I can’t wait to see that expression when you bring home a great report card, dance a perfect routine, or graduate high school. There are many happy days ahead.

But there will be days that aren’t as happy, too. Life isn’t easy or fair but, little one, you will be shown a way. I promise. You will have enough grace to make it through.

You have never asked about your father, but I think you might soon. I dearly hope that you don’t wonder yet because you are so surrounded by love that it doesn’t matter that he is gone. One day, you will ask and one day it will matter. I am thankful today is not that day. I don’t know if he will ever find the strength to give you the love you deserve. I don’t know that we’ll ever find a man to be my husband and your Dad. But if I teach you anything in life, please, let it be that you are no less worthy than a little girl with two parents.

God would not have trusted me with you if I was going to fail; He would not have given you this life without the strength you need to succeed.

You are more than I ever dreamed a daughter of mine could be. Thank you for filling my heart with love, my days with laughter, and my future with hope.

With love,
Your Momma

Dancing With Demons

This past weekend, my family and I joyfully celebrated my sister’s college graduation. (Please refer to previous post as to how incredibly awesome she is.) During the ceremony in which she received her nurses’ pin, there was a slideshow of pictures. Sister picked the accompanying songs (proud of her for excellent musical taste), the second of which was Florence + The Machine’s Dog Days are Over. And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

My tumultuous relationship with this song goes back to its cover on Fox’s Glee in the fall of 2010. If you aren’t familiar with it, please take a moment to watch it here:

“Dog Days are Over” via YouTube

I saw it performed and absolutely fell in love. I loved how Glee interpreted it; I loved its message; I loved what it meant to me.

When I first heard that song, I was happily engaged. Blissfully anticipating the beginning of a fulfilling and satisfying life. We had so many dreams. A wedding. A home together. More children. We had hopes of getting pregnant immediately. Hopes we were so committed to that while furniture shopping we considered kitchen tables and sofas based on their suitability for a family of 5 (him, me, Eva, and the twins). We even had names picked out. He had promised to find a way for me to be a stay-at-home mom. We both wanted to travel.  He offered me everything I’d ever dreamed of. Basically.

But I think what I wanted from him–the part of our relationship I craved–was his ability to erase my shame as a single mother.

I didn’t consciously think about it that way. “Yeah, let’s get married so I can be a real mom,” was not how that happened. In fact, I’ve only really just started processing how my insecurity affected our relationship and how many red flags I glossed over. There weren’t many, but there were enough that I should have taken things slower. But with him, I felt whole. Not just whole, but also legitimized. His presence gave me credibility. “That’s right, there is a ring on this left hand, you can’t judge me–so there!” I could walk in anywhere with him and Eva and know that we looked “normal” together. Do you know what an absolutely stunning relief that was? To be released from all that nasty shame?

It was intense. And the freedom was so great, I found myself dancing constantly. I danced at home, in the car, and even in my workplace. Not just a little white girl head-bobbing, but full on booty-shaking, head-banging, jumping around kind of dancing.

My dog days were at an end. I remember baking Christmas cookies, with the song on repeat in the background, wistfully dreaming about all the holidays we would celebrate together, the family we were going to grow, and the love we were going to share.

When I found out that my dreams were all based on a lie, that burden of pain reappeared on my shoulders and its impact was a hundred times heavier than before. I imagine it much like Sisyphus rolling his stone up the hill the first time; reaching the top, feeling elated that his sentence served–his punishment at an end–only to see it roll right down to the bottom and know with utter certainty that reaching the top again would be much, much more difficult.

In the aftermath of our break-up, in my grief and shock, I immersed myself in denial. To have fully faced that reality would have been the emotional equivalent of ripping all 20 fingernails and toenails past the quick–I would have been raw and exposed. Hours after giving him back my engagement ring, I met a co-worker at the mall and helped him pick out a Christmas gift for his girlfriend. I remember smiling the whole time and didn’t speak of what had happened. I worked that night without breaking down. I know I emailed a few friends and simply said, “I am no longer engaged” with a small please-don’t-ask-me-about-it clause. I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts. I dropped off the face of the earth as much as I could. I may be remembering the details incorrectly, but I definitely told my parents to not bring it up to me and for us to pretend like it never happened.

So for a long time, I pretended like it never happened.

To an extent.

I walked out in the middle of a church service about marriage. For months afterwards, I cried every time I heard a baby cry in my restaurant. Sometimes I would be so overwhelmed, my chest would feel so tight, I thought I would stop breathing.

Grief observed is a terribly difficult thing. Grief ignored is silently devastating.

I have no idea how long it will take me to move past this. It’s been nearly 18 months and the grief stays with me. I cried on Friday listening to that song. It’s beautiful and moving and I know that if I made myself listen to it enough, I could repossess it emotionally. I have repossessed boots, earrings, scarves, and other gifts that came from him, I’m sure I could get that song to a safe place. But I think I would rather leave it and instead walk forward with Shake It Out.

After I heard it the first time, I posted this to my Facebook:

Dear Florence + The Machine,

Last December, I danced around my house to “Dog Days Are Over” almost every day until That Day. And for the past 11 months, even the first 2 chords could bring tears to my eyes. 
This December, you gave me “Shake it Out.” And you’re right; it’s time for the demon to come off my back. 
Breaking off an engagement was a bitch. And it still hurts. But a year of grief is enough. It’s time to bury my regrets.
We just came full circle.

With gratitude,

abby


Florence + The Machine’s Shake It Out via YouTube

If that’s not a powerful song, I don’t know what is. It’s been nearly 6 months since I wrote that post and I don’t know that I have truly buried anything. Maybe the regret? I don’t know that I could have done anything differently. It’s not like thinking about it changes what happened. Maybe my vision is a little less colored by it? I don’t know. But it’s a part of my story, a part of who I am.

She’s so right; you can’t dance with burdens weighing you down. You can’t allow the demons to paralyze and define your existence. But neither can you erase the memory. And honestly, I wouldn’t erase it even if that was an option. (I have other memories much higher on the delete list.) The truth is that what happened with him is just a piece in a much larger section of my puzzle.

Maybe right now I am learning to dance with my demons. Learning to accept the awful truths and move forward in spite of them. I have started dancing with Eva again, because her joy is my best joy, but I haven’t quite been able to shake it out all over the house yet.

In time, right?

Yes. In time.

Writer’s Block, Family Time, and A Big Happy

So I promised via social media that my next post would be about tricking you into loving White Trash. I have literally drafted 7 different posts and can’t find it in my heart to like any of them. Mostly because when I try to be funny, I sound like a bitch instead, but also because I have had the cold/sinus infection from Hades and am still not 100% better. And we’ve been busy. And also, I’ve had a mental block on writing anything else since “Never Alone.” I may have drained my emotional reserves on that one.

So to power through this hiatus of soul-diving, I’m dedicating this post to my sister in honor of her college graduation.

As a four year old, I prayed at dinner every night that God would give me a sister. I intended for her to be an older sister, but God saw fit to start Emily with us as an infant despite my request. Although, to her credit, she often (read: nearly always) acts older than I do.

She is my greatest friend, my dearest supporter, and my favorite everything. She is the best Auntie in the world to my Eva. And as of tomorrow, she will also be the coolest, smartest, soon-to-be most successful B.S.N (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) recipient to ever walk the Earth.

We are here to celebrate her graduation, ceremonies and things to attend galore. And she deserves it all. She has overcome so many obstacles to reach this goal and I couldn’t be prouder or fuller of heart. She can find the fetal heartbeat in twins, stick an IV in a high risk “the charge nurse can’t even find a vein” patient, and stomach cleaning the nastiest and smelliest of bacterial infections. She can make me laugh when I’m crying and throws my good advice to her back in my face with zeal. And she held my hand as Eva was born.

I could tell you lots of cutsey stories from her childhood, or funny stories about her clutzy-ness. I could even tell you sad stories of all things she has survived–cancer, major car wreck injuries, broken bones, etc. But all you need to know is that she always makes it out on top. Because she is strong like that. (And no, I cannot take credit for setting that good example.) She has the sweetest spirit and the most compassionate heart. She has been–and will always be–the better sister.

She has such a wonderful clarity of purpose; I envy her deeply. She knows it is her place in life to care for those who are hurting and heal those who are sick. And she will not only perform her job well; she will be a light to those around her and a hope to those who need her.

So here’s to you, Emily. You are one in 7 billion. There is no one else in the world like you.

 

P.S. I am probably going to bawl my eyes out tomorrow.