Wholesies

Every time I’m *this close* to shutting down my Facebook — a few too many political posts, too much voyeurism — something newsworthy, something heartworthy shows up at the top of my newsfeed. Because we, as a people, are either totally predictable — or Facebook’s Big Brotherdom has me nailed.

I know. It’s the latter.

The other day, I had been texting with two of my sisters — half sisters to be exact — because I’d been having a not so stellar day, and they showed up for me with an ear, their support, some laughter. A Tina Fey GIF might have made the rounds — because, well, the levity. The oh so necessary levity.

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Half sisters. This means that, although we have the same father, we have different moms; they are products of my dad’s second marriage. My brother and I are results of his first. I also have a third sister, another half, adopted from China when she was 3, by my mother and her then husband. And — there’s more! — I have an ex-stepbrother in here somewhere. Don’t get caught up in the flow chart. It doesn’t matter.

These folks aren’t halves. These people are family.

Which is why I was so struck by this video, one in a series, in my newsfeed.

Wow, Angel Soft. {#uglycry} I might have used a whole roll on just one of the videos.

Because when you or your children — or your sibling, or an aunt, or a friend — are affected by divorce, when your family has been divided, is there anything more for which we can hope?

To know a child, and encircle them with love. To observe a challenge, and still pull them in closer.

Sometimes it’s a tall order. When we let our ego take the wheel, and allow ourselves to be guided down a path that we think our lives should traverse — taking notes from a rule book that doesn’t actually exist — we are limiting ourselves. We are limiting our people. Because this life, with parents and step-parents and siblings, whether halfsies or wholesies, and then an ex and ex’s partner, and his or her family: Well. There’s nothing clean or linear about it. Even when you squint. 

We’re like an ink gushing octopus — with five times the tentacles. 

Collectively, we are brutiful — brutal AND beautiful — a word coined by Glennon Doyle Melton, the author of the very real, heart on your sleeve (or perhaps face) blog, Momastery. It’s sometimes a little religious for me, feel free to sub out God with Buddha or the Universe or Tom Brady, whomever you feel like. But her messaging is clear. 

It ain’t always pretty.

And so…although I can’t speak for allllll of the tentacles — whether they see what I see — we’re connected. We are.

This is not to say it doesn’t take effort. A strong will, even. I can’t say relinquishing — or should I say, sharing — some of my mommy duties with another woman was the simplest box to check off inside the walls of my aching heart. Those first few months, when my house was bereft of its usual cacophony of childhood birdsong, were some of the darkest days of my life. Where once it had been a constant flurry of activity, my tiny people burying their faces in my lap, the sound of giggles carrying up the stairwell, it was now — half the time — eerily quiet. No midnight calls for Mommy, no beds to make, no boo boos to kiss, no meals to prepare. I could eat a Clif bar three times a day, and no one would be the wiser.

Still smarts to think about it.


But, then.

Witnessing my girls’ dad and his partner on the field sidelines, cheering on our children, the harder edges of my heart began to soften. To know that my kids are fiercely loved, so unconditionally, is an enormous gift. Here is another person, showing up for my girls, and yet still respecting my role as their mother, greeting me with a smile, and loving my children as if they are her own.

Deep, deep gratitude. 

Because that’s what it’s about for me. Showing up. Being a part of a village.

Taking in all of the tentacles, and then offering them a seat at the table.

A step this, a half that?  No thanks. As a friend offered recently in a conversation — and my apologies if I’m delivering it in Hallmark packaging —  why go looking for holes, when you can enjoy what’s already whole?

Being a part of this equation, it takes a little grit. Some determination. But there’s no actual cost, unless you count the opening of your hearts and the rising numbers of your village. Unfurl those closed fists, outstretch your hands that know so well how to hold, and pull your people in. The rewards are there for you, patiently waiting.

 

Mothers in Arms

It was two and a half weeks before spring break. I had run through a minimum of 14 different scenarios for where to go and what do with my two girls, but — for a variety of reasons — it looked like we were settling in at home for an adventurous trip in Staycationland.

With a side of Boston —  if we were lucky.

Despite the million other times that I’d packed them up and thrown them in the car, I simply couldn’t deal with the idea of taking them away on a solo parenting trip.

The doing it all.

The preparation of meals + the laundry + the sunscreen applications + the “Watch out for cars!” + the scanning of the oceanic horizon for two bobbing towheads. The showers + the hair brushing + the constant wiping of the kitchen counters + and the dishwasher filling + then the emptying. The bedtime stories + the bedtime songs + the bedtime back tickles + the “Mommy, will you lie down with me?”

More than anything, I wanted to have new experiences with my children. To dive into some air quality that was different from our own, right outside our front door. To gaze up at the stars and soak it all in. I wanted to show my girls that I was still strong. Still capable, and fierce. That I was a mother f’ing adventurer.

And yet, more than anything, I felt paralyzed with fatigue.

I already did all of those things, here. At home.

It takes a village, they say.

Sure as hell does, I remember thinking, as my eyes scanned the surrounding sphere that was April.

The view outside my window that day, it was heavy with grayish, darkening skies. Leafless trees. A gnashing wind whipped around the four walls of my house, the screens on the windows pulsed as if with bitter, labored breaths. Upstairs, my girls were arguing. Stalling on bedtime. I heard a door slam and something sizable go THUD. Probably someone’s head.

A big sigh came out of my mouth and then a slow panic began to spread through my bloodstream, climbing like invasive bittersweet up and into my ear drums. And then, to follow — like shards of glass —  horrible pangs of guilt: mental apologies to my babies — for these very First World problems — running through my head.

The phone rang, a dear friend on the other end. A mom to three boys.

“I’m.so.spent,” she said, her voice weary. “I need a vacation. Like, a real vacation.”

I heard another door go WHAM above my head. Then another one opening and, “MOM! She scratched me!!”

Followed by, “Well, she punched me in the stomach!”

Oh dear God, help me.

With the phone cradled in my ear, the words shot out of my mouth like a cannonball, “YES,” I said. So yes.

JetBlue,” she offered. “From JFK. They’re having super deals to Charleston. I’ve never been there.”

Someone is shouting “MOMMMMMMMMY!” as they come racing down the stairs. Thundering footsteps are following.

JFK is a 5-hour drive. A minuscule price to pay…

I haven’t either,” I say. “Let’s go.

Within a matter of only a few days, we secured lodging. A car. And a couple of recommendations for where to eat.

Two moms, five children.

Mothers in arms. 

This was so happening.

Before we knew it, we were minivanning our way to JFK. Grateful Dead was flowing. Some reggae. Taylor Swift to round us out. The kids were pumped, moms were chatty. She drove and handled the traffic with ease. I navigated and was on snack and iEverything charger patrol. Sure, we hit some snags because everyone else in the Tri-State area was also going to the airport. Not to mention, there were a lot of pit stops. Anyone have to pee? always seemed to be met with a firm No until three minutes after you pass the exit for services.

But it was no matter, we made it in time for our flight. With only a little sprinting. Of course with five different little personalities in tow, we had to re-enlighten our brood a few times as we raced to our departing gate.

Please don’t touch the homeless man asleep on the bench.

Don’t use the word “bomb” — ever again — in an airport. No, I mean it. Not ever.

Those gummy worms? That were dropped in the public bathroom stall? No, I will not rinse them. Throw that {shit} out.

And, last but not least, when someone is taking a #2 outside of the shuttle station to Terminal C (while handily doing a wall sit, I might add), we simply smile and nod. Go about our business. 

Doling out the life lessons that morning, we were.

We landed in Charleston and picked up our ride. The car rental attendant pulled up in a glossy red, chrome-studded SUV. My friend and I looked at each other. Really? This is our ride?? The kids almost needed a ladder to get into the vehicle, but it was worth it as we rode like Kardashians through the angel oaks and Spanish moss. The scents of wisteria and jasmine filled our lungs while the tunes were blaring, the windows open, my fingers cruising with the wind.

I should probably live here, I thought.  

We pulled into our beach house, a two story beauty sitting up high on stilts, and within minutes, the kids were racing from room to room, picking out their landing pads. My friend and I each popped open a White, an homage to the homeland, as we broke open the cheese and almonds and sat out on the deck, the ocean’s waves crashing off in the distance, our bags in a heap at the bottom of the stairs.


Totally worth it,” we said.

And it was.

We were one sip in when the kids began playing soccer in the street, their happy voices carrying up and into the house, echoing off the neighboring shingled homes. Before long they were running to the boardwalk…ready to sniff out and explore the South Carolina seas.

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I’m pretty sure my friend and I high fived, like, eleven times as we inhaled that seaside air and turned our faces to the sun. As we leaned back in our chairs and realized how very good, how very right it feels to be part of a village.

The effort. It definitely took some. And the credit card bill. Crikey. Let’s not talk about that.

But, the dealing.

Oh man. The dealing.

Whether at home, or away from home. Riding in a car, on an airplane, in a boat, in my own backyard. We, as grown-ups, are always keeping those little people safe.

Looking back I remember strapping them in to their 5-point harness car seats. So much strapping, and unstrapping. Jamming their little pelvises down, as they’ve stretched out into human 2×4’s, so you could just.get.that.metal.fucker.to.click. Reaching down for the sippy cup, only to have it whiz by your head twelve more times. Rinsing the pacifier. And then rinsing it again. Placing a hand in front of their mouth while they’re sleeping, to feel their sweet breath dampen your palm. (And the hundreds of sighs of relief that follow.)

Holding their hand on the escalator. Holding their hand as they cross the street. Holding their hand as they receive their first shot, right in their little arm.

So much holding of those tiny little hands.

As they get older, it becomes more about the negotiations. The rules. The homework being completed. The desire to teach them all that you’ve learned, and what you could have done better. That daily recommitment to raising human beings who are kind + good, respectful of themselves + others. That teaching but not interfering. Letting them figure out some of the lessons on their own. It’s a delicate balance but it comes with the territory; it comes with being a parent to small humans whose frontal lobes are not yet fully developed.

The seven of us came home from Seabrook Island days later, our bodies tanned + our hearts filled with superfine sand + bright fuchsia sunsets. We’d biked the beach. Played tennis in the street. Sampled food trucks + street fairs + body surfed enough waves to last us until summer. As moms, we’d tagged out for solo walks or sleeping in. For a moment of rest when childhood fervor hit a fever pitch. We came home, another notch on our belts. We came home vacationed.

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Many years ago, when I lay down on that operating table  — twice — to deliver my babies, I may have handed over the keys to my previous life. I’d do it again twelve times, tomorrow, if it meant I’d get to parent these two crazy delicious people in my life.

But it also gives me license — gives ALL OF US license — to ask for help when we need it. To make that call. Because there’s always someone on the other end, someone who needs you as much as you need them. We’re in it together. And it’s not always an easy road. But, for me, I find it’s what happens along the way that makes it so sweet, that makes parenting in that village so worth the effort.

So worth the dealing.

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Fourth Time’s a Charm. [Sort of.]

This is perhaps the hundredth time I’ve sat down to write since my last post, O’ Christmas Tree. Struck with a case of writer’s block, I admit it. In my defense, I did type out one long, detailed entry. Three times.

The first time, I saved it and when I went back to work on the piece — poof — it was gone.

The second time, it wouldn’t save. The SAVE button was push-less.

Click click click click. Nothing.

I gave up and came back to it later and the screen was blank. Awesome.

The third time, I wrote a few paragraphs but I had totally lost my mojo. I realized the Universe was sending me a message.

THAT POST WAS HIDEOUS.

Little harsh. 

I mean, it wasn’t all that interesting unless you like the story of a woman losing her car keys in 8 degree weather (Real Feel was Minus A Lot), nary a hat or mitten in reach. A story where the kids think that losing the car and house keys is akin to losing access to one’s home and toys and pets. Forever. A story where AAA comes to the rescue in the form of a young buck– you’re old enough to be his mother — wearing a pair of Carhartts, a t-shirt and ski goggles, only to break open said car to the tune of a BLARING PANIC ALARMED CAR HORN that won’t stop and temporarily deafens you as you search for those same keys all throughout the car.

But, nope. No keys. Just a car having an ongoing panic attack. In public. For a really, really long time.

It wasn’t all that interesting when you reach out to some friends with a text on a cell phone that has 10% battery remaining. Yukon winds squalling — frost nip brewing –and the alarm, still so earsplitting. Friend comes to the rescue and gives you her car so you dash off to rescue your children, stranded at piano lessons. There in the parking lot, you happen to encounter potentially the most handsome man to have ever walked the streets of life coming out of the building. You lock eyes for what feels like a full minute, but the car. Damn it. Still blaring a couple miles away.

Sorry, Mister. Love’s gotta wait.

Once inside the music studio, your daughter greets you with a freshly paid for Rice Krispy treat. (She carries money? She’s 8.) You’ve been skipping the carbs lately, they make you too tired, but right now you are so AMPED that this XXL square of childhood is so happening. You set it aside as you rummage through the girls’ belongings, believing that the car keys must.be.here.somewhere.

And then. Of course. They ARE somewhere.

Like, in the toe of a size 3 girl’s winter boot. My daughter’s boot.

The boot that I was holding when I first combed the parking lot for my keys.

A few hours ago.

Sigh.

No, the post really wasn’t all that interesting. I mean, it was just a year or two shaved off your life. The heightened blood pressure. The heart rate, slowly coming down from its AC/DC Highway to Hell. It wasn’t that interesting when you hopped back in the friend’s car, massive cellophane wrapped Rice Krispy goodness held between your teeth as you began to tear out of the parking lot, thinking on motherhood and how it can be so deeply humbling. Both hands are on the steering wheel, hair wind-whipped like a wintry tumbleweed, ready to save the eardrums of citizens across the land, when you just happened to spot that handsome devil again. This time you get a better look — he’s walking towards you, WOAH, HE IS CUTE — and your jaw drops, slightly. Well, it would if there weren’t a giant confection being held in your mouth and you realize it’s likely — that, yes, it’s definitely possible — that he’s not feeling the vibe. With the crazy eyed sweet tooth behind the wheel. That maybe it’s simply because I am blocking his car with mine.

Pffffft.

So glad I didn’t finish that entry.

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O’ Christmas Tree

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‘Twas the season. The season for counting our blessings, for giving to others, for merrymaking and gratitude… the season for family. All of those things that people with white picket fences do. We did those things.

Meeting Santa.

Singing carols at the town tree lighting.

Cutting down a Christmas fir at the local tree farm.

Listening to holiday music while decorating said tree, a roaring fire in the wood stove.

Sheesh. We were Pinterest pins.

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But that white picket fence was something I grew up wishing for…for something that felt safe and intact. Containing, even. I’m not talking about a dude on a white horse, I’m talking about a clan, about people. The notion that someone or someTHING had my back. I wanted that. My parents had split when I was young and my brother ended up living with our dad, I with our mom. Despite two loving parents, my strongest desire was for a family. For a place where I belonged, that felt whole. And when I got it, it actually was pretty damn close to what I thought it would be.

Until it wasn’t.

Cue to present day. It’s Christmas time. Tree time. And lo and behold, Beyonce’s Single Ladies is my theme song. {Don’t read too deeply into the lyrics. I mainly like to do the dance.}

This isn’t going to be a Debby downer post, so you can breathe easy. Nobody wants to click on that little X in the corner  —  to close that negativity down — more than I do. Absorbing other people’s struggles, it’s heavy. Boo hiss. No thanks.

Which is maybe why I set out to do the following. Look at me. Look how freaking tough I am.

So, the tree. I was tempted to buy it at our town hall, where my girls and I picked it out last year. Dozens of them lined up in the parking lot, just waiting to be adopted for the season. The man who sold it to us even tied it to the top of my car, trimming a couple of inches off the trunk so that it would be freshly cut for water.

This year, I set my sights on the tree farm. I would simply saw one down and hoist it to the top of my SUV. I’m an active woman. I work out. Taking down a little tree would probably be the simplest thing I’d done this year. And despite the bitter temperatures, for this is winter in Maine after all, the timing was right. My girls and I would do this directly after school, rewarding ourselves with hot chocolate + extra marshmallows when we got home.

Easy peasy.

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We get to the farm at 3:30 and grab a saw, merrily making our way deep into the balsams on a mission to find our pillar of Christmas hope.

We close at 4!” calls out a woman behind me, taking payment from the families lined up on their way out.

Eldest daughter decides, against my wishes, to leave her mittens in the car. Youngest daughter is wearing tights and a skirt but has mittens. I’m one for two in the hypothermic fingers department but am not much better off, wearing thin yoga leggings with a pair of slippery boots and a puffer coat. In Maine, that can almost pass for streetwise fashion though today it simply means I came straight from a class and now that I’ve cooled down, I already have a chill. I look up and see the high fuzzy crest of the moon. It’s 3:42.

A sheet of ice is there to greet us as we shuffle and skate our way further in. We don’t spot any winners, so we keep walking. And sliding. It’s a glacial afternoon and as one eye is measuring daylight, the other the path in front of me, my blood pressure begins to rise as I realize how far it feels we are from the car. Luckily the girls aren’t picky this year and we quickly settle on a very tall and slim tree sitting on the outskirts of a sea of firs. I begin to saw away at its trunk, feeling badly for plucking this beautiful thing of nature, only to bedazzle it at home and dry it out with baseboard heating.

Sorry, Tree, I whisper.

Sawsawsaw. It’s going swimmingly for the first thirty or so passes when the sharp teeth begin to stick. Hmm. Must.saw.harder. I’m using my bicep in a way it’s never been used before while also developing acute carpal tunnel syndrome due to the awkward angle. But there’s movement.

Saw…………………saw………………….saw.

And then, suddenly, it stops. Won’t move an inch. No, I’m serious, not a centimeter. Surely I’m more than halfway, I think, as I peer down at the trunk. Barely a third.

BUGGER.

I look up and the moon is there, smiling at me. It’s 3:52.

Okay,” I say to my kids. “Might be harder than I thought.”

Littlest child says, “You can do it, Momma. You’re strong.”

This fuels me. I AM strong. I am mother f’ing strong.

I’m sawing. My bicep is having a tantrum while perspiration beads up on my lip. And then, once again. Saw. Won’t. Move.

Eldest pipes up, “Why don’t I go get the woman by the parking lot? The lady you pay at the end?” 

I look behind me, at the distance we walked across ice and snow, how very, very far away we are from the parking lot.

THAT LADY IS 75 YEARS OLD,” I say.

Exasperated.

Eldest shrugs. “Well. She might be good with a saw.”

It’s 3:56.

“NO. I am actually good with a saw,” I say, while giving it a firm kick with my boot. It moves. Back in business for another minute before it sticks again. “Good grief,” I utter under my breath (or that’s what I’d like to remember me saying) as I stand up and look at the tree. “You.are.not.my.friend anyMORE,” I mutter-shout through clenched teeth as I assault the tree with a good shove. Like a flexible driveway stake that bounces back after the snowplow speeds over it, the fir sways back and forth, as if waving to me, Hello there! I have roots!

“Come. ONNNNNNN!” I say (yell) to the tree as I push on the saw with a force that is only displayed with crazy pissed off adrenaline. Swear words course through my veins and I finally give the saw another kick and then the tree gets another much bigger shove and then, finally — CRRRAAAAAACCCKKKKKKKKKK.

The bitch is down.

“Yay, Mommy!” my girls chirp. “You did it!”

Oh, I did it alright. The base of the tree sticks out of the ground with jagged pieces. If someone were to fall, they’d be impaled. I glance at the tree lying now on its side and its trunk, too, has craggy spears shooting out of it like nails.

Eldest looks at me. “Probably shouldn’t have pushed it, Mom.”

“Yep,” I say in a clipped tone. “I see that now. Thanks for the tip.” 

Because my 10-year old didn’t comply with the mitten order, my youngest and I carry the tree (did I mention she’s 8?) toward the parking lot. It’s so icy, she slips and I drop my end and the tree begins to slide down a small embankment. Big girl finally pitches in, despite the fact that she can no longer feel her fingers, and the three of us limp over what feels like the finish line: the parking lot. Tree lady is there waiting. The farm has closed.

“Hi,” I say. “Um. I had a little trouble with the saw.”

She looks down at the base of our tree and says, “Trunks have been kind of damp today. But God almighty, you sure did!” She inspects it and, shaking her head, begins to chuckle and calls behind her to the Mister. He comes out, saws some of the trunk off so it’s ever so slightly a cleaner cut.

All I can think is WHERE THE HELL WERE YOU ten minutes ago?

My fingers are red and raw and basically out of service, so the idea of tying the tree to the roof of my car is totally out of the question. In what can only be described as the opposite of “in a jif,” I have the seats down and the tree, rolled in the tarp, riding in the back of my SUV. With my children. I start the car and my girls warm their hands by the vents.

Tree lady looks at me and says, “Don’t got far to go, I hope?”

I shake my head, knowing that we if were actually setting out for a 400-mile road trip right now, this tree would be riding in the same position. Also knowing that if she attempts to get me to put the tree somewhere more appropriate, I’m going to detonate into a pile of tears.

I go to pay and see a sign that reads, CASH OR CHECKS ONLY. ONLY is underlined. A lot. I realize I’ve brought the wrong checkbook. The one attached to the joint checking account that is about to be closed. Because we are no longer joined. And because there’s no money in it.

That lump in my throat that had been suppressed, I feel it starting to rise. And then the tears come, so hypersonic I can’t hold them back.

The woman looks at me, her eyes softening. “I’m just gonna take a guess here. You haven’t done this before. Alone?” I barely nod and she puts a mittened hand on my arm and says, “It’ll be okay. I promise, I’ve been there. You’ll be better than your best.”

Better than my best. I like that.

We arrange for alternate payment and I drive us home. Hurdle accomplished, lesson learned. When we get home, my eldest gets out of the car and, without a word, pulls the tree out of the back, drags it by its trunk to the door and then — together — the three of us, my girls and me, we stand that tree in its base. One of them fills the stand up with water while the other puts away our coats and mittens.

I whip up the hot cocoa and as we sit down at the table, steaming mugs warming our hands and our hearts, I look over at my girls — a very giant part of my tribe — and remind myself that Pinterest isn’t real. That this moment here right now is what’s absolute and that it — so much, in every way — is a life worth celebrating.

Our stories can be messy and bleak and sometimes ugly and broken but they can also be graceful and kind, full of fellowship and love. New traditions can be made (perhaps with improved planning) and they can be as meaningful as the old. We aren’t Pins. We aren’t without flaws. But honestly, who wants to be? Because it’s only through this hilarious debris and this life and these stories, that I found my people, that I found myself.

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Lessons from the Lawn Mower

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Fifteen years ago, one of the things I swore I’d never do in a marriage is use a lawn mower. In sickness and in health and in long, grassy lawns that will never get the attention they deserve — from me. I’d tackle the gardens and keep those pesky weeds from cropping up, but the grass was not, in my mind, going to be my turf.

And turf, it ain’t. Because that shizz can grow.

Lo and behold, as it turns out, if you find yourself living without a partner and the grass is growing up around your ankles and you’re pretty sure the ticks are going to come join you for dinner on the patio, the lawn needs to be trimmed. For a good chunk of the summer, I have a college kid who comes weekly, only leaving occasional grassy mohawk stripes here and there. I’m pretty sure he won’t be setting out for a career in Golf Course Management but until mid-August when he leaves for college, he gets the job done.

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During the grass growing —  let’s call it — shoulder season, it’s all me. Just a few pumps to prime it and a quick seventeen pulls on that thingymabob and we are off, the old biddy and me. It’s still kind of a new relationship. Blowing grass all over the state and into gardens throughout the land. It’s like synchronicity if you consider huffing, puffing, sweating, cursing and kicking machinery to be a match made in heaven.

A few weeks ago, as I started her up, I thought to myself, what a beautiful day. So grateful to be outside in the sun. And then I accidentally mowed over a plant. What can I say, turning on a dime is not in its vernacular. Wrangling this old lawn mower is not unlike pushing a mighty dog sled loaded with bricks — but with no dogs. For two hours. It’s a sweaty, laborious task that has nobody jumping up and down to say, Oooh, me me me! I’ll do it!

But I rallied, saying to myself: This is a first world problem, get over yourself.

You are WOMAN. {Mowing around the lavender bush – whoops, nicked my Liberty apple tree.}

You’re from hardy stock. {Mowing the perimeter of my vegetable garden.}

You are, like, Laura Ingalls Wilder. {Mowing below the grape vines.}

Get it DONE.

So, I did. And I checked it off the week’s To Do list.

The next week, the mower broke down. It needed a part, so I borrowed a neighbor’s.

How do you start it? I asked her.

Oh, you just push that button, she answered. I just looked at her. Say what?

Wow.

So I pushed the button and got her started up. Began mowing and realized right away that this thing was SELF PROPELLED. I could have traveled a hundred miles to Boston, mowing the whole way, it was so smooth.

You’ve GOT to be kidding me, I thought. I pretty much push an old car around my yard, hoping it will manicure those grassy tendrils around my garden, and there are lawn mowers out there that don’t suck? That don’t drop screws and washers every ten minutes? That actually catch the clippings?

On what planet had I been living?

My dear Dad, I should mention, generously gave me a check for my birthday that was meant to buy me a new mower. I’ve sat on it all summer and even now that I know mowing doesn’t HAVE to be a solo CrossFit workout, in a weird way, I kind of like it. In fact, I kind of missed my mower. What the whaaa? I know. I don’t love the frequency in which the grass needs to be cut. And I don’t love being the only person in my house capable of mowing said grass. But I do know that I’m strong. That when times get tough, I can make things happen. Not just peanut butter & jelly sandwiches and back tickles or homework and dance parties. I can get shit DONE.

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It’s a good reminder.

Doing things that are hard — that are less than savory or scary, even — is good for the spirit. [Mowing, I realize, is not scary.] And doing so reaches into your solar plexus, that area below your ribs and behind your stomach, into your power center. Tapping into this is what stimulates our hearts and our brains and our quest for a life well lived. Doing the hard stuff is what motivates us to do better. To be better.

I’m pretty sure life isn’t going to get better by chance. I think it takes optimism and, often, change.

So, I got the part. Fixed the old gal, who has a few good years left in her. And I vow to myself: until death do I part, I’ll be taking on the hard stuff in search of a better tomorrow.