the mystic.

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your mother always told you

pay attention

pay attention to what jumps out at you

pay attention as you shuffle the deck

pay attention to what falls down around you

slips through your fingers

comes knocking on your door

pay attention to the car that drives through your walls

into your living room

as you are sitting on the sofa biting your fingernails right down

to the quick

pay attention to the driver

who has been drinking and fighting with his wife

upstairs

in the apartment building where you live

with your lonely mother

who spends her evenings drinking and shuffling cards laying them out in intricate formations in random order

who spends her evenings

divinely guided

who spends her evenings answering questions before they are asked

knowing who is on the line before she answers the phone knowing who is

on the line

your mother nesting your mother a wise old owl full of wisdom full of sunset blush full of squelched desires and muted little hatreds

your mother looking the other way while you

steal ambrosia and nectar from the gods

your mother looking the other way while you

roll a boulder uphill

forever

your mother always turning her back on upright cups

chalices and hearts

your mother a remote and inaccessible cave filled

to the brim with impenetrable truths

your mother

who spends her evenings lonely evenings drinking alone

instead of fighting with her husband

what’s in the blood

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a week of outfits.

this month included a birthday, a couple of parties and a vacation, which called for some dressing up and dressing down. it also involved a whole lot of working out and even a 2 day juice cleanse, followed by a 4 day booze & junk food free for all. i realize that no matter how hard i try, there is no getting rid of my hips, which is made v v clear when i wear white high waist pants. also i feel best in mid-calf length skirts and holy cow i totally get why button downs are such a thing. it took me about 38 years but i have really come around to the button down as THE wardrobe staple. additionally despite jenna lyons being gone i’m really on a j. crew kick lately.  the end.

 

the wisdom of no escape.

at the beginning of the summer i felt pretty heavy with worry. i knew a big routine shift was coming with the end of the school year and transition to summer school, and i spent about a month frantically trying to schedule everything to make sure our days would be full. i fought like hell to re-schedule my son’s aba therapy to accommodate his schedule and not lose his favorite therapist, i planned out each day so that things would move seamlessly in the least disruptive way for my son, but of course it didn’t move seamlessly. there were seams. there were rips and tears and holes and finally everything just sort of fell apart. phantom illnesses and reactions i never anticipated happened, and in the middle of all of it my son’s favorite therapist up and moved to southern california (news which the company that she works for failed to tell me until her last day).

when things fall apart i usually find it pretty impossible not to see the lesson in it. i feel like when things hit crisis level, it’s typically the universe shouting at me to pay attention to something. like, now. pretty early into the summer i sensed that something needed to give.

i had a conversation with my oldest friend this summer about walking on eggshells. both children of alcoholics, we spent our childhoods tip toeing around our parents’ moods, doing out best to not make any false moves and set them off. in turn, we both grew up and had babies that had colic. we both spent the first 4-5 months of our babies lives scrambling to keep them from flying into a crying rage (that often lasted for hours on end). we were talking about the cycle of our lives, how we spent out childhoods walking on eggshells and then had babies that made us keep walking on eggshells. and we both wondered how we break that cycle for our children. for ourselves.

my son having colic, and then being on the autism spectrum has left me feeling like i am walking on eggshells for most of his life. it also keeps me feeling like i constantly must do everything perfectly or things will fall apart, and inevitably they ALWAYS DO because there is no perfect anything. there’s no way to keep the world from hurling random snowballs at your head and no way to always duck just in time. and i cannot blame my son for this, because this is the way that i have lived my life for as long as i can recall. this has been my experience of life: you must struggle and sweat and agonize and strive for perfection, and when someone is not impressed or criticizes you or just doesn’t give a rip, it feels like utter and complete failure. and reaffirms all of the beliefs about how flawed i am that are in there mighty friggin’ deep.

so this summer i drove myself nuts trying to line it all up perfectly and it all went down in flames. and what happened is that i was left all alone with my son every day. just the two of us, as it was before all of the therapies and school started. and to my surprise i knew exactly what to do. i just had to be with him and love him more than anything in the world (because i do). and i found that once little things fell through over and over, i finally got to the point where i realized that none of it really mattered. not really. what matters is that i love my son no matter what happens. not much else matters.

what has continually astounded me about motherhood is here is this person who holds this mirror up to all of my deepest flaws and ISSUES and yet, the inclination to bolt isn’t there, not physically. you have to make the choice whether or not you are going to bolt emotionally. it forces me to be present in times where i would normally check out. and no matter how much he pushes my buttons, i still wake up every day honestly stoked and overjoyed to see his face. every day. and i love being the person that he looks at with shock when something hurts him or amazement and joy when something excites him.

what motherhood has taught me is that there’s nothing to do but be here. stepping back and letting things happen and being open to all of it: good and bad and pain in the ass, has made life so much sweeter. sometimes shit goes haywire, and my son has meltdowns, and sometimes he just has good old fashioned tantrums like a 3 year old does, and sometimes i can’t fix whatever is not going the way he wants. but lately i’ve been trying to let those moments happen without adding the stress of my shit on top of it. i’ve been trying to “pause” in those moments where i feel like a failure or like people are looking at me and judging me or whatever, and trying to connect with my son in those moments instead of shut down. i have been looking at my son in those moments and just loving him and wanting to help him get through it. and more than anything, i’ve been having faith that we will get through it. that the storm will pass. and we’re going to be ok.

diary.

four days in the desert staying at the entirely gorgeous and v v swanky parker hotel, where we somehow scored the loveliest and most fancy suite ever. we spent our days sipping champagne lemon drops by the “family” pool (aka the not sexy pool), where my son tried to flirt with european tweens and little redheaded girls and i dug through the september issues of elle and vogue while (strangely) pauly shore paced around the pool talking on his cell phone. we also had one too many pina coladas at the ace while chatting with the staff about renegade desert parking lot minutemen shows and my high school crush on mike watt. we did our best to get through a plate of cheese fries at pappy and harriets and wound up hanging out in the back of a truck filled with punk rock t-shirts where the extremely kind proprietor gifted my son a set of rocky & clubber lang dolls which he has not let go of since. we also partook in bottomless champagne brunches and hung out at iconic atomic vintage digging through bags of 1960’s bikinis and costume jewelry and bar cloth shirts. all in all it was a dream trip, one which my liver and metabolism will likely need months to recover from.

diary.

a week of outfits.

 

putting make-up on space.

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the other day i said to my oldest friend that i feel as if i’ve lost my faith. i am a person who has always subscribed to a lot of woo-woo stuff, from astrology to cosmic force and all of the “everything happens for a reason” dogma that goes along with it. but there i was, spilling my guts to a most trusted confidant over a glass of rose, saying, “lately i just think…shit happens.”

i came to this conclusion after hearing myself saying, once again, that the past week or month or months have been “some of the hardest” or toughest or roughest or most difficult. after hearing myself say this for the umpteenth time i realized that i am no longer in a “tough phase,” this is my life. it is hard. there are a lot of days where i feel like i’m struggling just to make it through the day.  where i feel like i’m not strong enough or good enough or compassionate enough or nurturing enough to be the mother my child needs. like things are just worsening with time. part of the process of having a child on the autism spectrum, for me, has been walking through the levels of acceptance. levels that go deeper and further and take different directions. facing the fact that this is not going away. facing the fact that my life is always going to be difficult. that i might never be able to work again. that my son might never talk. that he might never become independent. facing those possibilities is terrifying. but necessary. and doing that, lately, has caused a sort of unraveling for me.

lately the struggle has been about routines. my son has to have things a certain way, and when something doesn’t fit what he expects or wants, crisis usually ensues. i make myself sick trying to anticipate what he might want or need out of every minute, and of course i fail because life cannot be just the way anyone wants it all the time. i realize that i’ve been just as uptight and rigid about his routines as he has. i realized this when all of my carefully laid plans started to fall apart, and the falling apart got larger and larger until i had to pay attention. and realize that i can’t control my son and his reactions to life. all that i can do is be here for him. i can’t make the world go away.

when i told my friend that i felt as if there was no universe or star map or reason behind things anymore, that i no longer believed in magic, something funny happened. i started seeing things that gave me a certain kind of flutter, the kind that comes from synchronicity. i overheard conversations that felt like they were speaking to me. my plans fell apart so much that they left me alone with my son, and i realized that no amount of therapy or school or play groups can compare to me being with and connecting to him. i love him unconditionally, and i was so caught up in doing all of the right things, of making sure he got all of this therapy and intervention and just the right people and places and things to avoid some big scary dark unknown future. grinding through each day until i could get some time to myself, or my husband got home, or some vacation or future perfect. and in that i was missing the moment. the moments in the day where he wants to snuggle with me, or sing to me, or show me how incredibly smart he is. it’s not that i didn’t live those moments, it’s that i let them slip by. in my quest for something else, something that i can’t even define.

so i think that yes, shit happens. but it’s kind of magic when it does. because it’s the shit that makes you pay attention and look at where you are and who you’re with and what is going on in the present moment.