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Mourning and Mothering

Updated: 2018-02-14T14:58:00.154-08:00




I used to yell a lot. For one thing, I used to be more angry. Then there was the toddler factor. Those tiny people don't listen to reason! Sometimes I just couldn't take it anymore and I resorted to my own primitive form of communication. These days, I'm more even-tempered, and my tiny people are mid-sized and capable of logic, at least some of the time. But the one thing that will push me

Seven years and change


I don't post here anymore, not because I don't have anything to say, but it's like I've forgotten how to say it. That, and some of it I say in other places now, like Facebook. And then there's some of it that I only say to the people who are involved, in person, in real conversations. Then, sometimes I'm tired, although I'm never tired like I was back in the early days of all of this, so that



I've been thinking about ambition lately, both in a general way and also as it relates to the workplace. I've not read Sheryl Sandberg's book Lean In, but I did read Anne-Marie Slaughter's piece in the Atlantic earlier this year about parenting and working, and I just read in the Washington Post this article by Elsa Walsh about a "good enough" life. While I take issue with Walsh's framing of the

Six Years


A couple of days ago, Maddie asked me if she had seen her daddy die, and I told her no, that she had been asleep. She took that news with no visible emotion. John died exactly six years ago today. I'm sure I've written about this day before, more than once, but this is how I remember it now, six years out. I didn't tell Mads that the door to the twins' room had been open, the distance between

Kids (Don't) Say the Darndest Things


What Riley said: "I love the fish gun in that game!" What I heard: "I love the fisting in that game!" Not the same thing. Not the same thing AT ALL. That said, fish gun? I never did quite figure out what a fish gun is or why it is so great.



I have my blog to thank for many of the things I love most about my life in the here and now. Job? Check. A reader sent me the link to the online posting. Boyfriend? Check. I met him through a reader who has become a close friend in real life. Speaking of which, social life? Check. A fair number of the people with whom I regularly socialize are readers who have become flesh-and-blood friends.

Hello, 41. Nice to meet you.


Maddie woke up cranky. There are plenty of reasons for this (including the child's least favorite reason: tiredness), but I knew what the reasons were and was mentally prepared for the crabbiness and was able to deal with it in a calm and reasonable manner. By the time I left for work, she was clearly still not her usual ray-of-sunshine self, but there were hugs and kisses and respectful, kind

Newtown and Bad Attitudes


Newtown really messed me up. I am not alone in this, of course. Only those with cold, hard hearts of stone could remain unaffected by Newtown. In the days following the shooting, I felt like I should post something, that I should have something meaningful or significant to say, but no, nothing. And now, nearly two weeks later, till nothing, no. I have plenty of emotions and feelings, but they

OMG, duh.


Tomorrow is John's birthday. Forty years ago tomorrow, his mom, as he would say, "dropped the bomb." (Get it? Pearl Harbor day? Get it? That joke got me every time.) As my sporadic postings here document, I've been overwhelmed and overwraught these past few weeks. An email today reminded me of tomorrow's significance, and suddenly, things came into focus. John's birthday has always been a big



I have spent three of the past sixteen days at home in Oregon. The twins and I went away for the weekend before Thanksgiving (Friday evening to Sunday evening), then left for Michigan early on Monday morning. We returned on Friday afternoon, then I left on Tuesday morning on a trip for work. I returned home yesterday, Sunday evening. All the travel was good. The Thanksgiving trip, for all the

Dribs. Drabs.


I wrote a long post yesterday. It started out like this: I am anxious. The post was largely about the upcoming Thanksgiving trip the twins and I are taking to see John's parents, brother, and sister in Michigan. These trips always make me anxious, but it's difficult for me to write about my complicated feelings around John's family and our interactions in a way that is honest but also honors

Doing something every day is hard.


Thanks for the great book suggestions. As much as I've loved reading Harry Potter with Maddie and Riley, I have to confess that I'm pretty excited about being done with that series and moving on to something else, so much so that I'm loathe to dive into another series of books, even though the Benedict Society series in particular holds much appeal for me. We still have 40 pages in HP book 6 and



I miss reading books. I used to read so many books. I read all the time. When I was in the Peace Corps, I frequently had days that looked like this: wake up read breakfast read lunch read dinner read sleep Those were great days. What I fear is that even if I had a day like that now—I day I consciously devoted to setting aside other things in favor of doing nothing but reading—I don't think I

On Running, Extroversion, and Addiction


[Aside: I just had to correct a there/their typo in my last post. Seriously embarrassing, that.] I have been running quite a bit. I've blogged about running before, although I'm too lazy to look back and see when I last wrote about my experiences with running. I've been running off and on now for about seven years, but these past three years have been the most consistently on of that time span,

The Warehouse Sale


I went to a warehouse sale on Friday afternoon for an athletic clothing company I like quite a bit, Title Nine. In true warehouse sale fashion, the dressing room is one big open pipe-and-draped space with some folding mirrors propped on chairs and empty boxes in the middle for rejected items. The items on sale include swimwear and bras, so women in the crowded dressing room—it's really a

Halloween with Maddie and Riley


On the subject of things in which I am quite invested: Maddie and Riley. Here are some pictures of them from Halloween. They went as Harry Potter and Hermione Grainger (complete with Crookshanks!). We've been reading the HP books together and are about to finish book 6. We've been at it for about a year, and it's been a real joy to share that whole series with them and see them be engaged by a



I thought about building it up, explaining how it was raining and how this particular stretch of highway often gets backed up in a way that seems to catch people unawares. Really, though, none of that is important to the story. What gets the story started is that I had to come to a pretty sudden stop at the interchange between the two biggest highways in Oregon during the morning rush hour. I

You can't be good at it if you never do it.


Imagine my shock and surprise to log on to Blogger today and discover that I have not written a blog post in over three months. Shock. Surprise. Both. Yesterday, I interviewed a candidate for a position here where I work. It's a writing job. We talked a lot about the writing process and his approach to that process. The notion of the importance of a daily writing practice came up multiple

We have a winner!


OK, folks, we have a winner! I chose the winner first thing this morning with some help from the number sequence generator at, but I am not able to log into Blogger at work, so have been unable to make the public announcement until now. Drumroll please . . . The winner is . . . Priscilla! I can't link to her blog as if she has one, she doesn't have a profile that links to it. I

UPDATED: Win free registration at Camp Widow! Entry deadline extended!


I'm so happy that there is so much interest in getting a free registration to Camp Widow! At the request of the good folks at Soaring Spirits Loss, I'm extending the deadline to enter my giveaway to Tuesday, July 24. I will choose a winner at random first thing on Wednesday morning, July 25. Please see details and instructions in the post below.

Are you a widow(er)? Wanna go to camp, for free?


I'm here to give something away. Sure, I could write about what's going on in my life, and there's a lot to say about that, and it's mostly good (although the six-year-olds [SIX!] are driving me NUTS right now), but I'm not going to take the time to say it because right now is the time for FREE STUFF. OK, one free thing. And you can only have it if you are a widow or widower. Sorry to all you

So Many Friends, So Little Time


There's a lot of press being given right now to what it means to be an introvert and what it means to be an extrovert. The currently accepted bottom line seems to be that if you gain energy by being around people, you're an extrovert and if being around people sucks the energy out of you, you're an introvert. By that definition, I'm an extrovert. No, make that a capital-e Extrovert. Or even an

On Mother's Day


I was more ambivalent about Mother's Day this year than I usually am. I am a reluctant participant in most holidays, and Mother's Day and Father's Day strike me as the most made-up of the made-up Hallmark tomfoolery, plus both are additionally fraught with not-so-tacit insult to nontraditional families, those who choose not to have children, those who can't have children, etc. etc. etc. Ugh. A



One of the busy, happy things I've been doing a lot over the past number of months is running. I've written about running before, and I'm going to do it again because lately, a bunch of people have asked me why I do it or told me they could never enjoy it or that they don't understand how I could find running fun. The main reason I run is that it is an incredibly efficient form of exercise. I



A note appeared in my inbox yesterday, a kind note from a reader who wanted to make sure I was OK. Yes, I'm OK. I'm more than OK. Let's call it neglectful but great. Last night, I got home from work and put some water on to boil for spaghetti, and Riley played on the Nintendo DS and Maddie followed me around and talked and talked and talked. We ate dinner, then we got out big sheets of paper