August 3, 2014

Belle of the Ball


The producers at Bravo invited me to come to the series premiere of their new show, Jersey Belle. Except not at all. But they might as well have.  I was one of over 700 people to attend the viewing last night. See? It was small.  Intimate.  Just a few close friends.



My plan was simple.  I was going to get discovered.  I waltzed around trying to keep a smile so long that my lip stuck to my teeth and I never saw Andy Cohen once.  So, apparently "writers" don't get "discovered" by waltzing at premieres.  Got it.  Still, the whole thing was magical.  We’ve covered my love for Bravo reality TV before.  



The new show is all about Jaime Primak Sullivan.  She’s a New Jersey native who falls in love with a Birmingham boy and moves south.  I read an article today (yes, it's harmless stalking.) that both convinced me I have relatives in New Jersey and broke my heart for Jamie. 

She said:
“Prayer is huge in the south, in case you didn’t know. They will pray for you, about you, behind your back, over you, under you. And it’s not that northern people don’t pray. But southern people, it’s their way of dealing with stuff. You have a headache — I’ll pray for you. You’re having a baby — I’ll pray for you. You’re kinda ugly — I’ll pray for you. But I have learned that in the right circumstances, I’ve gotten very good at praying with my children. It didn’t come naturally to me, necessarily, but my children really enjoy it.”

I hear you, girl.  It’s hard to be down here and know which way is up in this chaos of religion and tradition.  Jesus and Christianity.  Habit and sincerity.

I used to find myself saying “I’ll pray for you” over and over.  But I didn’t always pray for that person.  Sometimes I never did.  I meant to.  I did. But my promise of prayer was more of a knee jerk habit than a holy commitment.  That disgusted me.  I don’t want to be that way.  I don’t want to confuse the Jamie Sullivan’s I meet.  I want to show people that I love Jesus, not present them with a well-versed, worn out and tired, I’m saying this because my Mama did, let’s-hurry-and-get-to-brunch, shallow, meaningless charade of faith.

I’m getting better. And I'm learning how to say only the absolute truth when I speak.  I'll get there. Until then, bravo, Jaime.  Thanks for having grace with us.  

July 27, 2014

all choked up


This Sunday at church, we had a guest speaker preaching.  You may not know much about the south, but you know we live, breathe, die, and make idiots of ourselves over college football.  This preacher is a LEGEND in the football world.  A legend, people.  We are talking, works with national champions, IS a national champion, wears all the rings,  ALL OF THESE THINGS, HERO! (I mean, if I knew sports, I feel I could articulate this better.  He’s famous.  A really big deal.) AND, he brought all of his award-winning, sport playing, ring wearing family members and their beautiful wives WITH HIM.

Ok.  You get it. 

I was so in awe of his message today and overcome by this family.  They, like us, are an interracial family.  But they have generations among them and I was so drawn to the legacy they have created. We are just starting out.  They have paved the way with strength and honor and grace.  This is what we want to be able to build for Mills.  Towards the end of the sermon, I went to the nursery to get him so the family could pray with us at the end.

Mills is a flight risk.  A “runner”, as we like to call him.  So, he hasn’t darkened the doors of “big church”, nor will he until he is 17? Later? Hard to say.  On our way in, I grabbed a handful of peppermints and began shoving them in his mouth in order to keep him quiet and occupied until the end of the service.  It was sort of a beautiful moment to have all three of us sitting together in church, on the front row (I'm that girl now!) for the first time.  The preacher asked us to bow our heads and began to do the altar call.  I noticed that Mills was unusually still and began to smile to myself thinking about what a spiritually sensitive child we obviously have.  Clearly, he was responding to the Holy Spirit.  I opened my eyes to nudge Matt and alert him of our son’s holiness when I saw Mills clawing at his neck.  I began to pat him on his back and noticed his face was quickly turning blood red.  With people all over the floor at our feet asking Jesus into their hearts, the famous athletes and beautiful people just inches behind us, I suddenly began to scream, “he’s choking, he’s choking!”  All I could think was that I'd just killed my child with a breath freshener in order to beat other people to the front of the prayer line.  Talk about a mom fail.  Matt started to do a hybrid Heimlich/karate chop, the preacher kept praying, I kept screaming and the peppermint popped out. 

Sweet Lord.

When Mills was an infant, I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know what to do.  Matt would come home from work (into a filthy house, with a crying baby AND wife), kiss me, swoop the baby into his arms and say, “You did it!  You’re both alive!  Great work today, Mama!”  

I have maintained for the past two years that this is my only goal.  Keep.him.alive. 

We had a close call, but today… I DID IT!  I'm exhausted.  

July 26, 2014

to the waiting ones


Dear Mama who can’t get pregnant,

(You became a Mama the moment you began to dream of that little one in your heart. That is where life actually begins...)

I see you.  And I want to tell you something.  I know exactly how you feel.  I know the unbearable pain you’ve carried for months, years even, waiting for your baby.  My very heart beats with yours.

I know what it is to weep on the cold tile of the bathroom floor month after month; sobs wreaking havoc on your body until you vomit and then mourn some more.  And I also know about the numb feeling that slithers in after the pain is too much to carry.

I have hated my body for forsaking me and not doing the one thing I felt women were created to biologically do.  I have felt that I couldn't face another "tomorrow" more times than I'd like to admit.  I have felt broken more than I've felt whole. 

I’ve cried at baby showers.  To the mom-to-be.  In front of her mother.  While we were supposed to be praying for the baby.  So I really know about avoiding showers.  And maybe tearing up invitations and flushing them down the toilet. 

I've stayed in bed at holidays and "been sick" for babies' birthday parties.  I used to hide from my life which made me feel ashamed, which made me angry at myself, which started a downward spiral to the dark dark place.

I’ve been afraid.  Angry. Disappointed. Hopeless. Lifeless. Weak. Ashamed. Sick. Confused. Belittled. Enraged. Exhausted. Embarrassed.  Utterly, completely alone.

I’ve watched every single friend of mine (even the infertile ones) have a baby.  And then their second.  Now they are on round three.  Somewhere along the way I began to withdraw and life became very lonely and complicated for me.

There is something I want to tell you.  You are not alone.  As long as I am here, understanding you, we are in this together.  You are not being punished.  You are extravagantly loved by the creator of the Universe.  Even if you don’t believe in Him.  That’s ok.  You are still loved and accepted just the way you are.

The only thing you have to do is make it through today.  Me too.  We don’t have to figure out why, or when, or what steps to take. Don't even THINK about tomorrow!  What's tomorrow?  We just need to do today.  One of my favorite parts of the Bible says,
Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.  Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”
Let's hang on to this promise.  

Let’s just do today, friend.  Together.

*Matthew 6:34

July 24, 2014

swimming in the shallow end: toddlers at the pool


As summer draws to a close (I MEAN! What even happened??) I’ve gleaned a few bits of wisdom about taking a little person to the pool.  If you have a toddler, plan on having a toddler, or see a mom actually trying to drown herself in the shallow end (she has a toddler) the following may be helpful…

adult swim: You'll face your biggest resistance with this little trick the lifeguards pull. I recommend pre-season training.  Set your kid up with a brand new toy until he is playing gleefully.  At the height of joy run up, blow a whistle in his face, rip him away and scream "ADULT SWIM!!" Sit him a few feet away forcing him to look on while a few of your neighbors roughhouse with the new toy. Repeat this daily, often and at random intervals. That's the closest you'll get to conceptually explaining adult swim to a 2 year old.

swim diapers are inverse diapers: If you are new to swim diapers, you may find yourself thinking, “AMAZING! BRILLIANT! Why didn’t I think of these?” However, there is a serious malfunction that still needs to be resolved.  While these contraptions DO keep water out of the diaper, they do NOT keep liquid IN.  So, let’s say you are talking to, I don’t know, an old high school crush at your neighborhood pool while holding a swim diapered child.  You may find yourself with a warm stream running down your own leg.  And that would be really, really awkward.  A friend told me.


potty fascination: Most toddlers have entered the realm of “potty” world.  While they may not be using it, they WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY.  Also? Have you noticed how loud toddlers are?  I’m convinced the insides of those hot little mouths are formed exactly like megaphones, because, wow.  So, in the event that you need to use the restroom during your trip to the pool, prepare for ALL OF THE guests to be fully informed of all the happenings.  It goes a little something like this:

“Mama go tee tee? Mama tee tee in the potty? Mama poo poo? Mama just go tee tee? HOOOORAAAAYYYY Mama! Mama tee teed! Time for treat! Yayy Mama!!!!! YAYYYYYYYY”

Just go ahead and check your shame at the door.

discipline: You will find the need to institute your discipline policy throughout the summer when your little angel acts out.  Navigating a screaming, puddle-jumper-ed, slippery, sunscreen-ed lunatic out of a body of water to the closest lounge chair takes a little practice.  Again, I recommend pre-season training.

no strings of any kind: IF your current swimsuit has strings on it that are functional in ANY WAY (read: are not backed up with clasps, brackets or industrial steel) girl, don’t do it.  You will be climbed and clawed at in ways you cannot imagine.  Standing in the shallow end with only one triangle up is NOT the way you want things to play out.  We aren’t in Panama City anymore, Toto.

werk It: Swim with your babies.  Really.  I know how hard it is to overcome body issues ESPECIALLY at a public pool.  Personally, I’d rather face a firing squad across enemy lines.  But I’ll tell you this. I have paraded myself ALL OVER our pool this summer and it’s been amazing! I remember my family members that played in the pool with me, and the ones who wouldn’t think about getting near the water.  Years from now, your child will not say, “Hey Mom, I really wish you had been seven pounds lighter that summer I was two.”  But they will cherish the fact that you were present and joyful with them.  Especially if your bathing suit doesn’t fall off while all their friends are watching.   

July 23, 2014

caller unknown


I experience irrational fear every time my phone rings.  I’m jumpy and my heart beat slams in my ears and I fumble around in my purse, palms sweating until I can grab my phone to immediately hit “ignore” or fling it away from my body.  Anyone in my circle knows this about me.  I have to breathe for a few minutes, regain composure, and then I’ll call back.  Usually. In a few hours or days or something. 

I do this to friends, family, my husband.  I’ll call him back 15 seconds after he called me.  “What were you doing?” He asks, knowing full well how this dog and pony show plays out.  “Brushing my teeth” I lie.

But sometimes the worst happens.  An unknown caller pops up on my screen.  The dread that overcomes me is palpable.  The bile that predicates vomit is quick to lodge itself smack dab in the middle of my throat.  My fingers numb at their tips and I feel an instant urge to drive my car into a river. 

I’m certain it’s the police, or the FBI, or worst of all the mean Librarian from the children’s department because she’s finally figured out I can’t find that book and I keep renewing it every three weeks.  I know deep down in my soul that answering this call will bring my family to its ultimate demise.

The terrorist caller leaves a voice mail.  They always do.

And for days on end, my life revolves around the single red circle at the bottom of my phone taunting me of the inevitable message that will certainly bring news that will alter my life forever.  I can’t sleep, I can hardly eat.  Things are tense at home until Matt catches on and breezily remarks, “You’ve got a voice mail don’t you?” 

“OH LIKE YOU UNDERSTAND!” I slump over onto the table and began to pull at my hair while rocking back and forth.  Matt offers to listen for me, but this is my cross to bear.

I had an incident a few days ago.  It was like all the rest, only this time my symptoms were a bit more severe.  I felt sort of hive-y all over and decided that one of my doctors from my past had re-run some blood work, discovered an incurable disease and was calling to tell me I only had days to live.  I survived the weekend but didn’t think I could live with myself much longer.  I sought solace in the middle of a grassy field to listen to the news. (okay, it was my yard.  Whatever.)  The caller was from California.  Somewhere menacing like San something where I’m sure there are prisons and medical clinics.  The beginning of the message was a robotic woman’s voice and I was immediately insulted that the news of my impending death or lifelong punishment was delivered by a computer of all things.

“…our home security systems allow you to feel safe and secure in your own home…you’ll never have to look over your shoulder again.” The message droned on.

I fell over on my sidewalk.  I was half laughing at the irony, sort of crying and completely incredulous.  Could these people not just torture me with a piece of mail that I’d throw away because I’m too afraid to open it?

I’m experiencing some posttraumatic stress disorder after this debacle and feel like a break from my phone is necessary.  If you need me, just send a carrier pigeon.  Or call my husband.
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