05 May 2016

the phases of motherhood

mother's day was started by a woman who was never a mother.she was a woman who had a vision. celebrating her mother. 

have you ever looked up the definition of mother? go do it. i'll wait. once you get through the more obvious words, you come to this: a woman in authority. and if you keep reading you get to: something that is an extreme example of its kind especially in terms of scale <see the mother of all construction projects>.

so today let's talk about construction. the construction of a mother. or as in my case perhaps the deconstruction as i gingerly negotiate writing censorship <mine> and the request to write less honestly <boys i live with>. i wish i was more like nora ephron whose boys remember her always saying, "everything is copy" meaning anything that happens is fodder to be retold in print. unapologetically. maybe i will someday. but until then, i type ever so gingerly. i tread lightly on the writing.

speaking of treading lightly. nearly 17 years ago, my life took a turn down a path that i don't know if i'll ever clearly understand or fully grasp the rigors it brings (present tense). i've written about it here <see censorship comment>. aired my dirty laundry. expounded on the triumphs and the trials. mostly, i am still that incredulous person wondering when am i going to set sail onto calmer waters in respect to life and specifically mothering. but y'all. it's not happening. and based on the conversations i collect with older mothers, i am beginning to realize that calmer waters are a myth. 

i can only venture to guess that it has something to do with the fact that i am trying my best to wrangle some pretty fierce and often ferocious people who i hope will be fierce and ferocious grown ups someday. in all the best ways of course. ferocious for good and for justice and for mercy. fierce for truth and perseverance and grit and courage. those are my hopes. for these souls that have been set in my life to watch and learn from and enjoy and to try REALLY try to instill with bits and pieces of wisdom. 

but also to be humbled by these boys of mine who remind me that i've worked really hard to make them independent and then they go and be INDEPENDENT! sometimes in good ways. sometimes not. 

the bigger the kid, the bigger their, ahem, let's call them situations.the stakes just get bigger and bolder and grander and potentially more fantastic, right? 

this year, i've been stunned by mine and their situations. i've been bowled over by them and heartbroken and clearly as you can tell by my lack of writing, silenced. all in good ways. mostly. 

That time your son was recognized by the College of American Pathologist and you stood in the wings and watched.

That time you were checking your phone and looked up to see...

That time you heard a voice overhead-and this time is was a real. 

That time your youngest wrote you a note.

That time you watched from your front porch as your boy ran by on his way to his cross country meet. 

That time your kids decided to entertain the neighbors with a little FIRE works show.

That one time the coast was clear so you sat to flip through stacks of magazines. 


The time your kid asked you to give him some ink. 

He tried. So did she. 

That time a boy wondered what he would look like with bolder eyebrows. 

Middle school p.e. uniforms. Enough.Said.


That time you sold stuff from a parking lot to raise money for these boys' school. 

That time your boy decided he wanted to try a new hobby. 
Snoop Dog just cause.
so i continue to tread lightly as i wrestle through writing and parenting. and wondering how i can do both with honesty. i would love to hear from you bloggers who have older kids. how do you do it?

but before i go, i leave you with this, one of my favorite photos with one of my favorite reminders...

happy mother's day to all of you cause we all have mothers to thank for our lives. may all of us strive to be the mother of all...you fill in the blank.

and if you have an hour to spare, listen to this podcast. i was the mother's day guest. we chat bono,jeans and b-12 shots just to name a few. 


02 March 2016

doxology and dichotomy: whiskey in church

as i write, i have a sick kid in bed with me and am listening to my latest crush, the newsroom. it's streaming on netflix. check it out. and since i am like 4 years late to every party, it's so much fun watching the last election with as much excitement as if i wasn't there the first time. 

talking about my latest online crush {more tele less otherwise}, had me thinking about last sunday and last sunday reminded me of church and church reminded me of my most favorite childhood story. and well a favorite childhood story begs to be told so here goes...

i grew up in a small town in tennessee. to keep the story short, i'll just say my family found our way into a rather large baptist church where we warmed the pews every sunday for a good 4ish years. 

i loved this church. i loved the pastor. so much so that i found myself sitting with this precious man every sunday. what the heehaw i was thinking i do not know. but every sunday i would make my 10 year old self to the FRONT row where I WOULD SIT BY MYSELF with the pastor. i write that in all caps for dramatic effect. now i may have been accompanied by my friend kim, but for the sake of argument, let's pretend i was doing this all on my own, because let's face it that's how i rolled.
Speaking of how I roll, Zoe from Nurse Jackie cause she's pretty much all that and pink track suit. 

well, part of the story that needs mentioning was this. i was the youngest of 5 children. i was the youngest by like a lot. that needs to be stated because i had a much older brother who liked to partake in the crown royal. and his pesky littlest sister thought that the purple bag the crown royal came in was damn near, well royal. like "something a princess would carry". do you know where this story is headed? yeah. 

so after the bottle of the crown royal was enjoyed {or maybe to shush the littlest sister}, my brother gave me, the littlest, the said legendary bag that once came with the bottle of whiskey. and you know what i did with it? 

well, i used it as a pocketbook like any self respecting, {ignorant} southern baptist girl would do. i would carefully tuck my bible with my name emblazoned in gold, a myriad of highlighters, as well as a fresh pack of velamints and my tithe money in that purple velvet tote with the gold embroidery. and then i would march down the aisle. all.the.way.to.the.front. of the church where i would take my place on the front row, beside the pastor. of the baptist church. with my contraband accessory. only, and this is the greatest part, i had no clue anything i was doing was at all worthy of speculative banter. like, o, i don't know, "where did that little girl get THAT bag?" {my brother} or "what kind of family drinks whiskey?" {MINE} or "does she not know that this is the house of the Lord?" {yes, and...} so i share this most favorite childhood story with you because it is pretty much still who i am 35 years later. it was what those in the literary world would call a foreshadowing. 

i am still that little girl sitting very reverently {and irreverently} on the front row of a church. the only difference is now i am sitting with boys, not a pastor.

i am the mother of boys who can pull the biggest pranks whilst enjoying the view from the front of church. and you know what? for the most part, i just let it go. 

when one of my boys brings his soccer ball and tries to volley during the sermon, i admonish him for reasons of safety-mostly. when another wishes to sit and chat with his friend the entire time, i quiet him with a "it's rude to talk while someone else is speaking". and when another pulls out a snack of a hotdog and proceeds to enjoy the snack whilst sitting up front-well, i say, "this is NOT a baseball game. cool it with the snacks". and throw in, "you're making everyone else hungry".
Passing notes in church cause goodness, quiet down already!

my point is my poor parents had to watch in horror as i walked down the center aisle every sunday in a small town baptist church toting our family secret which as it turns out wasn't the biggest family secret we had. and i am here to shout, "if you can't let your secrets slip out in church, then where can you?" or that's the way it should be. and that's the way it is where i sit.

to be fair, i am sure this crown royal situation happened exactly one time before my panicked mother and father took away my pretty, little purse and replaced it with something, ahem, more appropriate. but baby, i will always have my crown royal bag at church-and if you know me, you know what i am saying, right? cause i am a little rowdy like that. kid on the front row and all. 

so here i am rambling about whiskey in church. and yeah, that's about right. that's how i see it. children in church. acting up and acting just about perfect cause let's face it when i see kids at my church running around or dancing up front or crying out LOUD or singing the doxology at the top of their lungs, i can't help but feel like THIS is what jesus meant and means for all of us. whiskey in church. irreverent plays nicely with the reverent cause we are all both. hopeful and hopeless. doxology and dichotomy. and hopefully letting our secrets slip out in the best ways. 


Okay so this was a wedding reception, but you see what I mean, right?

21 February 2016

If you build it, they will come

Settle in. This is sure to be a lengthy piece. It's been so long since I've written here that I forgot how to log on. Excuse the absence. Life has been wrought with a lot of, well with a lot. I'll leave it at that. Add to it, one of son's friends found my little writing spot and unearthed his anonymity and you have the making of a blog lock down, or take down might be more like it. 

But here I am. I am back. Hopefully, to write more consistently. The opinions here are expressly mine. And I will take full responsibility for my inconsistencies, hypocrisies and otherwise lack of professionalism. But hear this. I am writing from a place of nothing but love in hopes of bringing about better stewardship. Today's topic: EDUCATION. 

What's more divisive than politics and religion? You gots it. The big "E".  So without further adieu...

{Let me preface this letter with an introduction. I am Tracy Utley, a long time lover of education, a once upon a time teacher, a homeschool mom who straddles between homeschooling our youngest child and sending middle and high schoolers to public schools. In the words of Bono, this is not a rebel song. It's meant to encourage us to do what we do best as parents, be builders. It's meant to maybe begin a dialogue which I hope can be productive and illuminating. And more than anything, encourage community, peace and love. As Abraham Lincoln once reminded, "A house divided cannot stand." I see this as true in my neighborhood. A neighborhood divided cannot stand. Unanimous agreement is incongruent with being human. But one thing I hope we can all agree on as families is this, seeing the role in education as primarily the parent's mandate. And for that reason we understand that if we don't build something, it might not come.}


Dear Education Dissonance, 

You are the elephant in the room right now, actually not in the room, but in our neighborhood. We all talk about you in sketchy, unclear terms, but it's hard to grapple with the spirit of something so let me be clear. This is about choosing to dig in and dig deep into keeping our neighborhood schools thriving rather than letting something else move us to send our kids someplace else for school. 

My mother always told me if you are not part of the solution, you are part of problem. The way I see this situation playing out is either you leave our community, or we are going to be forced to take you down one choosing parent at a time. Dissonance, you have no place here. 

We see you sweep in and scare and weaken the stalwart. That is not cool, Dissonance. You leave your mark in social circles that are peppered with gossip and buttressed with secrecy. Instead of bringing unity, instead of reminding us that we are all for the same thing, a strengthening economy of academic excellence, you make us feel that we are only out for number one, ourselves, our kid. But we know better because fear is a liar.

You see fear not only lies, but it fractures relationships and breaks the harmony that is the cornerstone to building community. And when these quaking and intimidated families bail on their neighborhood schools, they take with them the monies that won't make their way into their neighborhood schools, the land where kids can play with their school classmates. Dissonance, you call that "yesteryear", a passing fancy that no longer is attainable. And it becomes a vicious cycle because once the money leaves the building (neighborhood school), the long sought for classes and teachers and extracurriculars are taken. And this keeps parents from choosing the neighborhood school. See how manipulative you are?

Dissonance, you make mountains out of mole hills and mole hills into mountains. You create obstacles where there should be none. You remove sincere families who are the builders and turn them into consumers. You needle into the fiber of family involvement by insisting that the grass is greener on the other side of town where the other schools are. And just when we are to the very brink of personal and familial exhaustion, you give one final blow. You show us that the school that we ran from, the one that is in our neighborhood, the one where our kids could have gone and flourished if we had shown up ready to build, was really the better choice. 

Damn you, Dissonance. 


Do you understand the letter? How can we be the change we want to see? 

I do not have the answers. I am only and I mean only a parent who really, really wants the kids on my street and up the street and those who have parents who don't have the time to invest, to have a place to call school and for that school to be in their neighborhood. Mine included. 
Bonus: Having your kid run by your house en route to his cross country meet. 

24 November 2014

rough and rowdy ways

fatigue overcame me so i sat down to rest, but my mind wouldn't stop downloading information so i decided to look through some photos. my eyes stopped at these.

taken by a boy. of two girls who happen to have 10 boys between them. "lord have mercy on our rough and rowdy ways." 

these photos, a reminder from a few weeks ago when this dear friend came for a very quick visit because she knew i needed it.

she and i go way back. like before kids, before husbands, before stillborn babies and lay offs, before the death of a father and loads of moves. we have a history, but one that was begun and stands on one truth. 

i gave my camera to the 11 year old who got cheeky. then the 8 year old decided to photo bomb in the form of jumping out in front doing the splits. and high society ladies walked by looking at us and murmuring something under their breath. i am not quite sure what it was as i was literally crying with laughter. and it felt so good and so right. 

to be there in front of that display of mums laughing our hearts out. a suspended moment of bliss. forgetting all the worries of the moment to just laugh.

and as we did that rascally boy chronicled it all with the click of a camera. 

please tell me this is something that you do too. dropping everything. taking a break to laugh. especially now with thanksgiving on our heels.

laughter really does make the heart glad like good medicine. and when life feels daunting and unmanageable, good medicine helps. in the form of laughter. or a good cocktail. 

laughter has a way to break through.sometimes it sneaks up and surprises us like a boy who jumps in a photo at just the right moment.sometimes it's the reminder from a friend that you are worth dropping life for just to come.for a few hours. 

however it comes, may we always break for laughter. life is full and tragic and wonderful and messy and blissful. might as well laugh when you can. 


10 November 2014

this woman's work

last week i stood on a stage and gave the following talk before a room full of strangers and friends. this is my story. personal and honest. it's not meant to be a rubric or remedy. the topic of the talk was faith and work. this is about my work. 

let me tell you about what happened last week. on thursday my 13 year old jumped the fence after our dog jumped the fence. one made it over, the other did, but sustained a broken arm. the next day whilst i was driving this dear 13 year old to the doctor, i got a call from my oldest's son's school telling me he had fallen and needed medical attention. so my husband took two boys to see the orthopedic surgeon. and you know what? only one ended up needing surgery. that was halloween. a mess. and speaking of a mess.

i am nothing if not a mess. a fully flawed ridiculous unpredictable dormant volcano that could spew volcanic ash in the form of expletives at any moment or sit down cuddle up and read a loving bed time story. in other words, i am a mother. 

and as a mother, it's not like i planned to wake up one day and pull my oldest child out of one of the most desirable suburban schools in one of the best school districts in the area (which i did) only to move him and his brothers to one of the lesser desirable neighborhoods in the inner city (which i did). it's not like i decided that after nearly 10 years of homeschooling, the school the oldest would attend, was the one that just happens to be across the street from where we live and was once considered to be one of the most dangerous schools in america (which i did). that wasn't my plan. but that's what happened. even though i didn't plan it. i am not much of a planner really in fact...

as i was preparing for this talk, i sat in front of a white screen. for a like a long time. trying to think up what i had to share. i had so much swirling in my mind to share. to narrow it down seemed daunting and somewhat impossible, but as i was driving away from my childhood home with my darling 13 year old after tending to my terminally ill mother, i knew. 

i told him to look at the sunset in our rear window. and it came to me. one chapter of my life is setting. the one in which i am a daughter of a mother. 

i find myself in a surreal place right now. sandwiched in between taking care of the one who mothered me and taking care of those whom i mother. 

i remember when i was in college studying the women who were caring for their parents whilst caring for their own children. it seemed like that demographic was older. much older than 43. but here i am. driving in between tending to my dying mother and tending to my lively boys. and it's just well, weird.

i didn't choose to be somebody's daughter, but i chose to be somebody's mother. 

in my talk tonight i want to make two things clear. one, i think we need to change the definition of what, yes i said what, a mother is. i think we can all agree it is more that a woman in care of a child. it's more broad.

and here's why i say that. you see i have been mothered by someone, my friend jacqueline, who is younger than me, and she would love to hear me acknowledge that. and who does not have children of her own yet. being a mother isn't about hierarchy or birth plans. i've been taught about what makes a good mother by women who are without children in their care and may never "have" children. 

i consider a woman who seeks to leave the world better than she found it by remarkably and altruistically looking out for her fellow man and woman, a mother. that's broad i realize, but so is the job of motherhood. broad. not 9-5. there is no retirement package with a gold watch either. are you following me?

and the second thing i want you to know is i didn't become a mother because i didn't have anything better going on. it was not a last resort. it was a first resort. 

i approached motherhood, or rather it approached me long before i had my first child.

like most vocations, it was something i knew from early on, i am talking like 4 years old, that this was what i wanted as a career. to be a career mother. it was what occupied me so it became my occupation if you will. 

my story of motherhood is a little like a drunk fest. sometimes i feel like i woke up with four kids without any recollection of how they arrived (sorry, honey). and i feel hung over. a lot. i sometimes still feel like that 18 year old teenager waiting for the parents to come home. only they never do cause i am the parent. 

i think it is because i felt so much of the weight and joy of mothering even way back when i was working in the nursery at church, babysitting and teaching school. children have always held my gaze and my passion. other's children first, eventually my own. 

i have to say after living almost 16 years with children i feel no better at being a mother no better prepared for what is to come.

as a family, we hike. and motherhood is akin to a hike. adventurous and beautiful, but it can be horrible and daunting. and much like a tricky hike, once you reach what you assume to be the summit, you are shown that this is just a base camp. so you arm yourself with an extra tank of oxygen and continue the sojourn. 

when two of my boys decided they wanted to jump off the trail of homeschooling for a more traditional public school experience, i breathed deeply and went with it. and on those trails, one to high school, one to middle school, i saw a lot. much like a naturalist, i captured conversations and samples of family dynamics of their classmates. 

it continues to prove to be one of the most remarkable experiences of my life. being called "mother" by children who have painful relationships with their own mothers. watching my oldest son thrive in a school where he is challenged academically yes, but where he is challenge in even more beautiful and redemptive ways. ways i think he may be completely unaware of. like being a minority, having friends who are in pursuit of academic excellence like he, but who may be of a different race, socio economic background, living in homes with different family dynamics. 

i remember introducing some of his cross country team mates to pumpkin muffins. after they got over the initial shock of eating a food that was orange, but not neon orange, they asked me to bring this homemade goodness to each and every cross country meet.

i remember stifling laughter when another of his classmates asked, "why is there grass on my chicken?" he was referring to the rosemary we had sprinkled on his chicken leg before we set it on the grill. 

motherhood has schooled me. still does everyday. what i have learned is motherhood isn't about shaming-myself or my children. it's about instilling. it's about knowing what you want and knowing how to ask for it from yourself and your children. 

motherhood isn't about protecting as much as it's about equipping. motherhood isn't about always having the right answer. there is courage and wisdom in saying, "i don't know."

being a mother isn't as much about reaping as it is about sowing. it isn't about saving the day as much as it is just showing up.

it's not about hiding behind an embankment that can become our children. it's not about hiding at all. it's about being known. and being known can be terrifying. motherhood is like an excavation-digging to find treasure. to see good.

but here's the thing. some days, like a lot of days my thoughts on becoming a mother are less "hallelujah" and more "shit! what was i thinking?"

there is a tension i straddle between the lord's prayer of "thy kingdom come, thy will be done" and the promise, "it is finished". living in my neighborhood, being in my oldest son's school, i am reminded of how hard life can be and knowing how the story ends helps me metabolize hard stuff. i know that in the end the good guy wins. and that is my comfort as i raise men to leave this crazy world better than they found it. 

and the way i do that is by teaching them to root for the underdog cause guess what we are all the underdog and the one whom my boys and i follow was once an underdog. 

so i scramble around with my brood of boys, seeking justice which means i have to get up off my sofa and go out into the world. i aim to love mercy. so we leave our four walls and go out into the world to kick up some community. and my heart is to walk humbly with our god by stirring the stick in the proverbial camp fire. to light a torch for those who are apt to adopt a stranger as their mother and call her out at tailgating event. or maybe that that just happens to me. and boy and i fortunate to have that happen. i know that. just like i knew nearly 40 years ago that i wanted to be a mother, anybody's mother.

god used motherhood to make me a living witness of his goodness. especially when i find myself caring for a dying mother and boys with broken bones. 

this is my story-
and i'm sticking to it,
xo gf

28 October 2014


a few nights ago i had a dream. i was walking around my neighborhood,running errands, doing the mundane only i was completely naked. like not a stitch of clothing. on my body. at first i was shocked when i realized it, but then something changed inside and i felt empowered, emboldened. it felt necessary,not naughty. it felt purposeful,not perverted. 

i was recounting my dream to the mister. i asked what he thought it meant. he laughed thinking back to the weekend when our youngest had traipsed around our 5 acres of land in the country completely naked. he swam in the pond and reveled in the obscurity of being out in the woods. but my husband's interpretation of my dream didn't seem to fit. my dream seemed more metaphorical than literal. it felt more like necessary vulnerability than daredevil antics so i tabled it til i went to see about my mother.  

in many ways i feel like my mother went missing about 8 years ago. right after our youngest was born. and in many ways when she checked out, i forgot that once we had a tender and sweet kinship. she went missing and took many of my fondest and most tender memories with her. she's a hard one this mother of mine. stoic, yet loyal. fierce, yet loving. unwavering, yet generous. far from sentimental.

today i read to her. i opened several cards that were sent from my friends, strangers to her, telling my mother she was being cared for from afar. the vulnerability was too much for my weak minded mother. she changed the subject. 

i thought to when she came to sit in my hospital room when the doctor told me i had cancer. she asked the doctor if it was her fault, because she smoked. i thought of when she came to help me mother my first born and my second and my third. somewhere around the 4th she threw in the towel and our relationship changed. i guess she saw that i was in capable hands. my own. and she sort of stopped coming around. the only time i saw her was when i drove to her. and that cut hard. a deep wedge that i will never understand.

today i asked her what she thought of dying. if there was anything she wanted to say, any unresolved feelings or stories she needed to get off her chest. i know my mother's childhood was not sweet or gentle but i only know this by subtle hints. she hasn't let any of her kids in on much of the details. and in some ways she seems like a stranger to me. so we sat on my sister's sofa. and she gently asked if there was anything i had left to say. and just like that i opened up. like a storm cloud. but with gratitude. 

i thanked her for doing better than her parents. for protecting her children the best she could. i thanked her for all of the drives she made up to see me when i was in college. all of the care packages she sent. for taking me to europe and on family vacations. for always giving us her best, the best she could. giving us the most comfortable bed in the house when we came to visit. having cupboards stocked with food and never letting our dirty laundry hit the floor before throwing them in the washing machine.even now i can think of a hundred more things to add to the list.

it is clear to me, and i told her, that she did the very best she could. i told her even when she was not nice, but harsh and i had to politely, yet firmly tell her that she was not allowed to speak to me that way, that i know she was doing her best. and as i spoke she wept. and i wept. and i knew that she needed to be let off the hook.

as she slept most of the day, i read a book on (ironically) parenting. it soothed me and reminded me that we as parents are not the saviors of our children. parenting is more mundane than anything as grandiose. it's more about stewardship than saving the day. it's more about the grunt work than the frills. it's more about being faithful in the little things than grand gestures. it's more about sowing than reaping.

i left my mother and drove back into town under an ominous cloud. literally. i dodged the wind and made my way into the thrift store. boys needed stuff, and i their mother was the person for the job.

it hit me like a ton of bricks. two hours earlier i had been helping my mother find her way to the bathroom, and tucking her into bed and trying my best to sleep in the same bed with her. i had spent a mere 24 hours mothering my own diminishing disease riddled mother. now i was back in my adopted hometown mothering my boys by way of finding them the necessary accoutrements for their halloween costumes. what a weird dichotomy.

i left the thrift store empty handed and continued my way across town.upon my arrival, i was met with a tepid welcome. the boys were distracted with a guy named wallace and his dog gromit. i didn't take it personally. i poured a glass of wine and decided to shower whilst the mister tended to dinner. 

in the shower,it hit me. that same feeling that has been sneaking up from behind for the passed few weeks. a confusing, "i want my mother to be out of pain, but i want my mother". even now i cannot explain the confusion. it's not the wine. believe me. it's not the wine. i wept in the shower and thought of the vulnerability in seeing my mom's naked body today as i helped the nurse dress her after her bath. i don't think i have seen her naked since i was a little girl, and she and i took baths together every night. how did i not think of that til now? 

i finished up my shower, dressed and joined my 5 boys at the supper table. the mood was heavy. i looked at those eyes, my own eyes red rimmed. and i decided to charge in. no holds barred. no stone unturned. no story off limits. and my boys know. we live honestly and in light of the goodness of the creator who recklessly throws open the door and calls us all his and never picks favorites and always shows up and understands that our frailty is what keeps us from taking ourselves too seriously. lest we do, we may forget that we too still need a little more time to find our footing. but never throws in the towel.

dear ones, i deeply and humbly thank you for all your care, well wishes, prayers, cards, chocolates and meals as we continue to live in this sad place of watching my mother metaphorically pack her bags for home.


14 October 2014

left behind

hey you. i've been ignoring you. on purpose. i've been thinking of all kinds of way to break up. to plead the fifth. to forget. to be too busy to remind myself of your existence. the truth is, well, the truth is i've come down with a big case of the scaredy cats and haven't had an ounce of will to buck up. i don't think i ever will. so i put on my crush eddie who sings, "just breathe" and here goes. i write to say...

yesterday, it hit me. we were fresh from the sandy shore where i purchased from my very favorite bookstore a blank journal in hopes of converting it to the day timer calendar of my dreams (after a short, but exhausting search which left me wanting). as i jotted the dates and blocks of days that added to a year, it hit me. it's very likely this year will bring the loss of my mother and the thought even now as i sit makes me well, sad. let's just say sad cause i wouldn't want to lean towards the dramatic like "life changing" or "shattering" so i'm sticking with sad-for right now. 

for the past month i've been sitting on a keg of a blogpost. my mother has stage 4 inoperable incurable lung cancer. she's 77. she's smoked a long time. but here's the thing, dear loved ones. when someone you knows tells you her mother has lung cancer, please don't let the first words you utter be, "does she smoke" like many of those who i've shared my troubling family news with have responded.

here's why. we all deserve to die-but grace, praise the lord, grace usurps that tormenting truth and allows us to relish, like a float down a lazy river, the love and courtesy of a saviour who says, "there is a better way-me." so yeah. don't start with the "i told you so" when someone tells you their mother is dying. it's just poor form. 

so here we are. me wrestling wild ass monkeys (aka my children). them winning. mostly cause i am older and slower and not as smart or energetic and let's not forget distracted whilst a couple hours away my mom is living with broke down lungs. it's all so surreal. and sickening. 

my sister takes her to an appointment and phones me to process the news. i drive over to see my mom on the days when my boys are in their one day a week tutorial for a visit with a doctor or take her to lunch or be shunned cause she really can't be bothered with me being all weepy all over the place. 

geez. could somebody make an app for that? the "schedule a break down app"? in between the taking the dogs out and driving the cross country team?

i was cleaning out one of the two cabinets i have in my kitchen (first world problems) when the littlest bemoaned his homemade biscotti was too hot (first, first world problems). and like a voice over the intercom, i heard my voice say, "honey, i am sorry. i burned the biscotti. i am having a hard time thinking of nana dying."

and like kids and life do, we just move on. down the road. to carpool and family vacation and supermarket outings. but in the corner of my mind, i think of the burying of the only person in my life who still worries when i drive alone or with my boys. who is that "call me when you get there" voice. the only person who can make me want to bang my head against the wall, but whose approval i think i still secretly and sickening wish i had (it'll never happen. just when she got used to my homeschooling and became an all "down with public school" zealot, i put two of my boys in public school so in her defense i am pretty maddening myself.)

so here we are. you, me and cancer. not my cancer (been there done that) or that of my Mister or my boys (thank god). but cancer that is taking away the only grandmother my boys have ever known. the one who always had a hot meal, their favorite food group-macaroni and cheese-from the box,like they like it-waiting for them when they arrived from an arduous journey be it from maryland or nashville. and i am sad. so let me just sit in that for a while. or for a long while. or probably forever because death or the thought of it kind of sucks. not for those who are dying necessarily, but for those who are left behind. 

that's it. so if you see me out and about and i look distracted or my kid shows up without his homework (or having studied for his art history quiz) or i forget about a meeting, just know. it's cause i'm sad. that's it.