Wednesday, September 25, 2013

And What Do You Do?

Meet someone new, answer the question.  Fill out a form or a profile, answer the question.  It’s a way of defining or categorizing a person.  Lawyer, doctor, ditch digger, I don’t care who you are; I just want to put you in a box.

In the past few weeks I have had to answer this question repeatedly and it has caused me great pause.  There are no easy answers. 

I have kids, so I am a mom.  I run, so I am a runner.  I make stuff, so I am a maker.  These things are passions and joys of mine.  They make up who I am but they are not the answer to the question.

Last week I was at my law school reunion.  It was fun, a weekend with friends to relive the glory days, to laugh.  It was also nerve wracking, a weekend filled with lawyers who didn’t know me.  I was asked the question over and over again.  I struggled with my answer.

My friends would answer the question with their job title.  Dean, coordinator, general counsel; people understood those answers.  My friends are also mothers. They may run or make stuff or do other interesting things that make them who they are.  But they can answer the question. They do something quantifiable.  They fit into acceptable categories.  They do big things. 

And what do you do?  I’m currently at home with my kids.


What a noble job. 

That’s hard work.

And now we move on.  Let’s talk about what your friend does.  That is way more interesting than laundry, packing lunches and kids’ activities.

I’m dismissed from the conversation.  It hurts.

The simple answer to the question is I am a stay at home mom.  The reality of the situation is a bit more complicated. 

I chose to leave the workforce.  It wasn’t right for me at the time.  I spent all this time and emotional energy to become a mother.  I needed to do it with all of my mind, body and soul.  I couldn’t split my focus, that wasn’t working for anyone.  I left and didn’t look back.

As the kids got older, I was able to explore things that interested me.  I didn’t have to do something just because I held the appropriate licenses.  I wrote.  I made jewelry.  I made other things.   If I didn’t enjoy something, I didn’t have to do it anymore.  I had freedom, I had choices.

I found I loved writing.  I thought I was pretty good at it so I sought to do more of it.  I found a volunteer position that allowed me to write.  It grew into something more and I grew along with it. 

And what do you do?

I am a writer.  I am a maker of things. I run like a gentle breeze.  I am lucky to be able to share my talents with organizations I believe in.  I have the luxury of being home for my children.

That answer works for me.  I don't care if it works for you.

Monday, July 15, 2013


The room was empty.  Darkness and cobwebs covered the corners.  It was not a place you wanted to linger. 

After a quick scan of the room, she moved on.  It had to be here somewhere, but where?

Room after room, she searched unsuccessfully.

Perhaps it was lost to time much like this house had been.  At one time, there were people here.  The house bore witness to their joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies.
The people were long gone.  The house fell into disrepair, a lone sentinel to a life forgotten.

Standing in the empty living room, tracing patterns in the dust, she wondered if any of it was real.  The stories she had heard, the dreams she harbored about this place seemed to fall flat.

The empty house had no secrets to tell, no answers to give. She felt childish for holding out hope. 

At the door, she turned back.  One last glance, one last flicker of hope made her linger there.  She half expected someone to come running down the stairs waiving a book, a photograph.  Something.  Anything.
But there was nothing. 

She closed the door, walked down the porch stairs and go into her rental car.  She drove away empty handed, empty hearted.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

High Tea

She took special care in getting dressed today. After studying her options in her closet, she chose a pale pink cap sleeved dress with a full skirt.  Her hot pink sweater had beautiful paillettes that shimmied and danced when she moved.

Because the weather was warm, she eschewed stockings.  Instead she wore silver strappy sandals with the slightest bit of heel.  She was glad her mother had given into her relentless begging and painted her toes bright pink last night.

She carried her sparkly silver headband over to the mirror.  Studying her reflection, she smoothed back her hair and placed the headband just right.  A bit of pink lip gloss completed the look.  She twirled and smiled at the girl in the mirror.  It was perfect.

She placed her lip gloss in her purse in case a touch up was needed later.  She added the five dollar bill her mother had given her and her handkerchief.  She always carried a handkerchief because that is what a lady does and she desperately wanted to be a lady.

Satisfied with her preparations and brimming over with excitement, she ran out of her room and down the stairs.  Halfway down, she checked herself.  Ladies do not run willy-nilly, they make an entrance.  She walked down the stairs with as much grace as she could muster.

She found her mother in the kitchen.  “Is it time?  Can I go now?”

Her mother was chopping vegetables for the soup.  She placed the knife on the counter and turned towards her daughter with a smile.  “Yes it’s time.”  Mother reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear, “you look lovely.  Do you have the money I gave you?”

She nodded.  “Wonderful. Well off you go.  Enjoy yourself and don’t forget your manners.”

After kissing her mother goodbye, she raced out the door and headed for her bike.  She placed her purse in the basket and headed off.  Down one block, across the park, the excitement growing the closer she came to her destination.

Finally she arrived.  She carefully locked her bike and grabbed her purse.  She skipped through the automatic doors strait to chairs next to the elevator.  As she waited, Mr. and Mrs. Prescott entered.  “Oh my, Earl, will you look at this pretty little lady.”  

“Yes dear, she is a peach.”

She smoothed her dress and smiled.  “Thank you.  Today is a special occasion.” 

“Is it now dear? Do tell.”

“Opal and I are going to high tea!”

“High tea? That is special.”

“Oh yes!  The queen has high tea.  It will be lovely.”

Just then the elevator arrived, bringing Opal in to the lobby.  She gasped when she saw Opal.  Her silver hair was curled just so.  She wore a pale green dress, with a matching embroidered sweater.  Silver heels and a silver clutch completed her look. Opal looked so beautiful, just as if she had stepped out of the pages of a magazine.

Mr. Prescott winked, “such lovely ladies on such a lovely day.  I have half a mind to join you.”

“Oh Earl,” Mrs. Prescott giggled, swatting at him with her pocket book.  “You ladies enjoy your tea.  Say hello to the queen for me.”

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chasing Waterfalls

Sundays are family days in our house.  We always do something, maybe we'll hit a museum or a park.  But the rule is that we do it together.

I have visions that these are going to be days my kids will remember when they are older, perfect days forever etched in their memories.  More often they are days I would like to forget.  Someone cries, someone throws a tantrum, they both fight.  Then I worry is the forced togetherness too much, should there be time for individuality instead.

But it's not too much.  The kids can and should be able to hold it together for a few hours of family time.  It shouldn't be a battle.  So we have talks about choosing happiness, choosing joy rather than choosing to be in a bad mood.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but we soldier on.

There are times, maybe one in ten, where it is all worth it.  The fights over what to do, the tantrums in the museum are forgotten on a sunny and warm day in the park.

We chose to follow a path along a small lake.  We rambled on looking at trees, rocks and plants.  We stopped to stare in wonder at holes in trees and in the ground.  Who lives there?  We explored  the lake's shore.  Fifteen, twenty minutes spent watching a frog in the water, laughing as his whole body puffed up to let loose a might croak.

We found a waterfall.  We sat on rocks at the base letting the water spray us.  We reached out to touch the cool, clear water.  We looked for tracks of animals who might have come early in the morning to drink, to splash, to play.

We walked on through native prairie.  We climbed trees.  We discovered a beautiful field of flowers, a riot of purple and white.  We laughed at the flower's name.  Phlox.  "Momma it's a field of phlox.  A fabulous, field of phlox.  I wonder if we'll see a fox in the phlox."

It's days like this, one in ten kind of days, that I etch into my memory.  These are the days that keep me going every Sunday.  These are the days that make Family Day worthwhile. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Run On and On

I started running.  This is nothing new.  I've run before.  I've participated in races.  I hated every second of it.

So why would I start again?  There are a lot of reasons.  I'm doing Weight Watchers (again) and I actually wanted to lose weight.  Activity is a great way to do that and running is an activity.

I had friends who were on similar journies.  I followed their progress on Facebook, every morning at the gym, every morning doing something.  I felt their passion.  I saw their results.  I wanted that, oh how I wanted that.

I was inspired.  I had a goal.  So I laced up my shoes, walked outside and I ran.  I ran 2 miles and I felt great so I did it again and again and again.  I finally found what I had heard so many runners talking about, endorphins, a runner's high.

The feeling carried me through my day.  I went to bed excited to get up early and do it again.  There have been mornings full of sunshine where I have felt the power of something greater than myself.  There have been mornings full of clouds where I knew running would clear away the clouds inside of me.

There is a time in every run where I want to quit.  I can feel it coming.  My body will ache, yelling do you not remember you are 43, you should be in bed.  But I know that just a block or two more and that feeling will leave.  It will be replaced with a feeling of calm and of strength.  I yell back at my body, I am doing this because I am 43, because I am getting stronger.

I am doing this because I love it.  I love every second of it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Activity begets activity.  It's evident in my running.  Once I start I can't stop.  I run one day and the next thing I know I am waking up at 6 am four days in a row to pound the pavement.  I love it.  I need it.

I'm finding it now in other areas as well.  Rather than sitting and watching reruns of Grey's Anatomy during Lion's nap time, yesterday found me on my hands and knees digging through our game and puzzle bins.  Games and puzzles that had not seen the light of day in months were taken downstairs.  A part of me wanted to take them directly to  Goodwill but baby steps.  Once I know they have all the pieces and no one asks where they are, they will be gone.  I know that now.

After I hung the canvases on the wall, I knew it needed more.  So Lion and I got the paints out and went to work.

It was fun.

It was comforting.

It was familiar.

The rhythm we had was so much like the one I used to have with Bunny when she was his age.  The questions about what will happen if you mix one color with another, the desire to paint one after the other, all so similar.  He's even painting his own version of Hamstacks (albiet without the fascinating backstory of French scientists who live at the circus).

And now I'm blogging again.  I haven't blogged with any real regularity in months, maybe even a year.  But here I am three days in a row in a place I haven't been in so long.  I don't know why but it just feels right.  It feels like something I need to do.  My first blogging home But Why Mommy doesn't feel like fits anymore.  I'm still a mom but it's not all I am.  This is freer, there are no expectations here.

I once had dreams of being a style blogger, a craft blogger, something.  Now I don't.  Maybe it's age, maybe it's maturity, maybe it's apathy.  I'm writing for me.  I'm writing about the things I want.  There are no apologies for being gone for so long.  I obviously needed the break.  There are no promises of more.  I may be here in a week, a month, a year or I may not.  But I am here now and I think I'd like to stay.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Half Finished

I am the queen of half finished projects. 

I get a brilliant idea in my head.  I rush out to the craft store.  I start.  And then I don't finish.

My room is full of baskets containing unfinished crochet projects and yarn that didn't quite make it into a project.  The craft room of doom contains piles of beads, empty canvases and a dormant sewing machine.  Even if I finish a project there is no guarantee that anything will be done with it.  It may lay forgotten on a table or a shelf for months.

Last year we repainted our green living room a lovely latte color.  It is brighter and lighter but it lacks the punch that green had.  So one day when the kids were painting, I decided to join in.  I grabbed three canvases, some mod podge, textured paper and a bunch of paint.  I glued, papered and mixed the paints on the canvases.  It was fun and I was pleased with the results.

I had every intention of hanging the canvases on the living room wall near the TV. 

I meant to do it, I really did.  But I didn't.

The canvases were added to the piles in the craft room of doom.  Every time I saw them I meant to hang them, I really did.  But I didn't.  I did nothing with them for months.

And then one day in a fit of inspiration, I hung them on the wall.  The organization may not be the greatest but they are on the wall.  I finished something!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Rummage and What Is Left

I struggle with stuff.  Not doing of stuff but the having of stuff.  I like stuff.  Having stuff around makes me feel better.  I have the things I might need ... someday.

I also hate stuff.  I hate that we have too much stuff.  I hate that we have junky stuff.  I hate that our stuff is all over.  Having stuff around makes me feel anxious.  I have things that I will never need ... ever.

So we had a rummage sale this weekend.  We sold some stuff and we hauled the rest to Goodwill.  The stuff was out of our house.  I breathed a sigh of relief.  Stuff was gone, we had space.

But then I looked around and noticed there was still stuff everywhere.  Bins full of kids toys and books were gone but bins full of kids toys and books remained.  Paperwork overflowed.  There was not enough space for what we had.  That sigh of relief turned into a gasp of panic.

A beginning was made but so much work still needs to be done. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Picking up

This photo sums up my life.  It doesn't get any simpler than this, a guide to organized living lying forgotten under a table.

I have good ideas, big ideas, good intentions.  I get excited.  I plan.  I make lists.  I buy supplies.  I think "I'm gonna do it".  I intend to do it.  And then I don't.


Life gets in the way.  I'm distracted by my kids.  I have to do this or that.  There is not enough time, not enough space.  I don't have the right supplies, the right plan.  Oooh something shiny.

My good intention, my big idea, lies forgotten like the magazine, collecting dust under a table.


I am unorganized.  I am so very unorganized.  I have things, too many things.  These things do not have homes.  When new things come in, old things do not leave.  The new things are piled on top of the old, balanced precariously.  Piles have piles have more piles. Things are shoved behind closed doors.

There is room in my home.  It is the office.  It was designed to be my creative space, space to write, to paint, to make jewelry.  I should feel pride in that space but I do not.  

Oh, that room.  I shut its door, I hope you don't see.  If you don't notice, its contents may disappear.  But, I know it is there.  It haunts me.  It paralyzes me.  I cannot fix it.


Procrastination.  No.  Procrastination is just a five syllable word for sloth.  I am lazy.  There is no magic cure so I do nothing.  Doing something requires action, effort. 

Things stay as is.  Ideas collect dust.  Creativity withers.

Or maybe, just maybe, I could pick that magazine up off the floor