Ring Your Bells.

They sat on the floor near the dollhouse I’d carefully chosen for Amelia’s second birthday, playing a matching game, putting together a puzzle and chatting. I sat nearby, as I always do, close enough for comfort, but not too close as to cause a distraction, my ears half-listening to their conversation.

Twenty minutes before, I’d watched her happily identify each of the planets on my iPad, squealing, giggling, clapping her hands and jumping at each image as it appeared.

I giggled whenever she got to “Uranus,” for obvious reasons.

And now, they were counting, “One, two, free, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, TEN!Ten was met with a burst of applause and a butt-shaking dance, because sometimes, that’s how counting makes you feel. I smiled to myself. I do the applause and butt-shake whenever I’m about to eat an Uncrustables. Or find a new flash mob video. Or vacuum.

Then, they were done.

“Amelia has made incredible progress. What do you think about going down to twice-monthly speech therapy?” Her teacher addressed me now, as Amelia busily got her “MIMI’S Froggie Boots” on.

Words failed to form. I simply nodded.

Whenever I stopped to think about the road we’ve traveled, the one rife with uncertainties, “what-if’s,” “could be’s,” and “maybe’s,” I am overwhelmed. A sweet-and-sour mixture of joy and sorrow; happiness and guilt.

And I am, once again, thankful for everything she has taught me, just as I’m thankful for everything my children have taught me.

From Ben, I learned to become truly responsible for another. He taught me to see beauty in the smallest of things, from a garbage can to Jupiter and it’s moons. I found out just how far I would go to do right for someone else, and I’ve learned to accept people as they are, not as I want them to be.

From Alex, I learned what unconditional love felt like. He was the first person I’d known who loved me simply because. Alex taught me that I was a good mother. From him too, I learned to appreciate how far I’d come. I’d gone from that scared, single mother, the load on her shoulders heavy, praying I’d do right by my firstborn, to the luxury of simply reveling in my new baby.

It’s from Amelia, though, the one with curls like a halo, that I’ve learned the most. Maybe it’s because she’s my clone, looks and personality alike, or maybe it’s because the road we’ve traveled in the past two years has always been rocky, uncertain and scary.

From Amelia, I’ve learned that it is possible to be shattered in a few short moments, by a couple of words, a terrible diagnosis. I also learned that this kind of fragmentation gives you a chance to start again; slowly picking up the pieces of your former life, discarding what you no longer need, adding what you do. All of those fragments of who you were and who you are will be pieced back together through time and love, and the cracks?

The cracks are where the light gets in.

Amelia has taught me to face my dragons head-on, even when the outcome was uncertain: sometimes you slay the dragon, sometimes the dragon slays you. But you can’t run forever.

She’s found Mimi’s Froggie Boots and appropriately cheered, “YAY! I DID IT!” when she managed to put them on “by myself.”

I grabbed my keys and we were out the front door, on the way to preschool. When we got to the edge of the stoop, where she considers the step down treacherous, she automatically raised her hand to mine and asked, “MIMI’S HAND?”

I held out my hand, marveling at how how someone so small, someone with hands like tiny birds, could have an impact so large.

Firmly holding my hand, Mimi lead me into the future.

amelia-encephalocele-mommy-wants-vodka

Choose Your Own Adventure.

The last roadtrip I took was a “BBQ Tour of Memphis.” It may have had a snappier name, like, “Beef and Pork and Ribs, OH MY,” or “Let’s Call Into Work Fat” or something.

Either way, I earned my first nickname, “Leadfoot,” when I learned a little something about Southern Illinois: law enforcement has very little to do beyond design and execute elaborate speed-traps for people who like to drive over one hundred miles per hour on the highway. I also learned another fun fact: BBQ Spaghetti is, in fact, the least appealing food on the planet.

The More You Know, and all.

Consider that my blogging PSA for the year.

Anyway.

I didn’t design or execute that particular roadtrip but I did tag along. I jump at any excuse View Postto go to Memphis. That roadtrip, as I think of it, was the last time I remember feeling free. Life got pretty tough after that, and it’s been pretty tough (although not without it’s shiny points) ever since.

You can tell that I didn’t design that roadtrip, though, because it makes sense. Things I tend to design, well, they don’t. This is why I need a partner on my adventure.

Roadtrips I design have been as follows:

“Let’s go Down South to buy sunglasses.”

(“down south” is anywhere south of Chicago off I-47)

“Let’s take a bunch of left turns. Wherever we end up, that’s where Elvis will be. Or a natty pair of shades! Or that weird drink with the blobs floating in it.”

(Do you remember that drink? That shit was nasty)

“How about we go down to U of I Champaign/Urbana for some Chinese Food? By the time we get there, it should be morning and that Chinese place will be open!”

*shrugs* “We’ll know it when we get there. Let’s just GO.”

———-

I tend to lack common sense which is why I surround myself with people who DO have common sense so that I don’t decide to invest my life’s savings (read: five dollars) in Fry Daddies and Twinkies because *shrugs* “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

So that’s kind of why I figured that if I was going to, in fact, get in the car and drive around, I should probably meet up with you Pranksters. I mean, I’m sure there’s a significant number of you who will lead me into situations where I will be forced to yell, “SOMEBODY GET THIS FREAKING DUCK OUTTA HERE,” alternately, “WHERE THE HELL IS ALL THE DUCT TAPE AND WHY AM I NOT BEING SPOON-FED ORANGE SHERBET?” but most of you are probably smarter than me by a shocking margin.

I’m pretty upset that I still haven’t found a duck OR the proper WordPress Plugin to allow me to see where you guys are physically located (besides inside my computer). I assume, though, that if you’re anything like The Twitter, you’re mostly located in:

1) Texas

B) Kansas City

37) LA

Ba) My mind.

So, that should narrow it down until I get the plugin hacked and working properly. It also allows me to procure a laptop, make “arrangements,” download every song about ducks and roadtrips I can find as well as find a proper traveling companion. I assume, though, that by now I’ve scared off everyone who might have considered traveling with me.

Figures.

*sighs*

I wonder if I can program a duck to talk to me.

Also: what Mission should this roadtrip have? Like, do I collect snowglobes or guns or different cheesy shirts from each truck stop I visit or something? Or pictures of amazing, luscious mullets? The Roadtrip needs a name and a purpose.

Also; also: even if you’re not actually coming with, you’re virtually coming with because the computer is a magical box powered by gnomes and a trainwreck is always awesome to watch as it unfolds.

Un-Slumping Myself

I’ve been in a slump.

I’m not even certain why I was in such a slump; I mean, my Rod Stewart CD’s were all playing perfectly, there were no Uncrustables shortages at The Target, and I’d even managed to figure out how to work the washing machine! If I could somehow manage to work the coffee maker, my life would be a series of wins!

And yet, I was still feeling downright…sad. My emotional continuum is not used to dealing with complex emotions like that. At best, I’m used to handling such bumps in the road as “my People Magazine was not delivered on time” or “my cheeseburger arrived with mayonnaise.”

This, this slump was not exactly something I could easily handle. Especially since it involved more complex issues than Going on a Campaign of Doom to Get My Way.

I was Losing My Way.

I HATE Losing My Way, Pranksters. I hate it more than I hate anything, ever. Even at my worst, even when I seem the most scattered, the most illogical, the most twisted, I always have something brewing in the back of my mind. Some nefarious scheme. Something. Even if it’s “buy a pony and put it on roller skates,” or “turn treehouse into a panic room filled with ballpit,” there’s something back there.

When I can’t see what’s next, when I can’t find my way, when I have no wacky, off-the-wall-plans, I fall into A Slump.

That’s where I’ve been.

I guess I don’t know what to do next. I’d planned my life up until this point, “finish nursing school, have a couple more kids, then…” and now I’m at the “…” part of my life.

I’d expected to go back to school to become a virologist after my kids were old enough to be packed off to school themselves; that was always the plan. But when I realized that I could write – really write – it was like I’d found my missing piece. That was what I was supposed to do.

So what I do I do with that? What do I do knowing that this is what I am supposed to do?

I do not know. I’ve spun around in circles. I’m still spinning.

The publishing market is in the tank. Selling a book to publishers now isn’t exactly…easy. And yet, writing is what I do. It’s my missing piece. I cannot believe I was brought to this realization only to stop and say, “eh, MOVING ON TO THE NEXT THING.” I love to blog, I love living in Your Computer, but I want to make something more of myself.

I want A Career. Even if I make five bucks a year, I want A Career.

So now I have to figure out What Next. Even if it means “buying a pony and roller skates,” I need to figure out What Happens Next.

Any suggestions, Pranksters? I’m totally asking you because you’re smarter than me and stuff and I no longer have a Guidance Counselor and even if I did, he’d probably tell me to “apply myself more,” which is what he always said. I STILL don’t know what that means.