Monthly Archives: March 2013

Spoiled Brats?

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Whilst perusing FaceBook yesterday I stumbled across a photo of a young mother who had recently given birth to her third child. She had been a teen mom, having a set of twins at age 17. She is now married, owns a home and is 21 years old. She and her husband planned this third child and have the stable life and financial means to raise this new baby as well as the two they already have. But while scrolling through the comments I was shocked at how many negative comments I saw. People having the audacity to call this mother a slut, to ask her if she was done having kids, to suggest to her she get her tubes tied.
I am always totally confused when I see people saying such things to another person in regards to their lifestyle choices. I’m sorry, but when did another persons lifestyle choices effect YOU? What does it really matter to you how many children a person has or at what age they have those children? A hundred years ago it was common for folks as young as 12, 13,14 to get married and have babies. They worked hard. They raised children. They took life seriously. Now, I’m not saying I think age 12 is a smart age to go start a family. BUT, I do think we coddle our kids these days. We make comments about “letting kids have a childhood.” And while yes, I do agree in allowing kids to be kids, to explore the world and live life and not be too rushed into adulthood. But I also feel strongly that we are raising generation of spoiled, pampered brats. Kids who expect cellphones for their 9th birthday. Teens who cannot understand why Mommy and Daddy won’t just hand them cash. Um, how about because Mommy and Daddy work their asses off for that cash? Since when did we become so damn entitled? We have a generation of youth who get every stupid game system, call phone, I pod, I pad, etc…..on Gods green earth because parents don’t want to take the time to actually invest in their kids lives. When was the last time you went out into the backyard with your child and tossed a ball or built a fort? When was the last time you went on a walk, showed your child nature? When was the last time you read a book with them? Discussed their life? No, instead we let them turn their brains to mush playing video games and then we wonder why we have so many people in their 20’s still living at home with Mom and Dad.
Maybe it’s time we start expecting MORE from our children. Like the Duggar family with 19 kids, who just happen to all be very well mannered, respectful, hard working children. Those two parents expect their children to ALL do daily chores and each of the older ones is responsible for a younger sibling. People cry child abuse at that. But that’s how MY family works. I teach my sons it takes the ENTIRE family to make a home run smoothly. I refuse to coddle my sons. Mainly because I don’t want my future daughter-in-laws to hate me.
So, we raise a generation of spoiled brats. And they get it in their head they shouldn’t need to work for anything, that they need to enjoy childhood for as long as possible, far into their teens and twenties and even thirties. And when we actually SEE a young mom out there working hard providing for her children, investing love and time into them, we cry out that she is a slut. I think our vision has become seriously, dangerously skewered. I know an awful lot of teen moms, or moms in their early 20’s , who are spectacular parents. (Dads too.) And I sadly know an awful lot of parents in their 20’s and 30’s who spend more time out partying and socializing than they do with their children. Apparently THAT is what is acceptable in our society. I myself have heard enough comments from people who tell me I “deserve” my own time, my own freedom. That I ought toput my kids in daycare so I can seek some lofty career. That I ought to dump my kids on my mom for a bit so the hubby and I can go on a vacation.
Screw that. My children are my life. And it’s nobodies business but mine and my husbands how we raise them. And weare raising them to be ADULTS. To be responsible. To be able to leave the nest at 18 and have solid ground to walk on. I don’t plan on doingthier laundry at age 25. I plan on being secure in my knowing they can handle life and live it. Its so backwards how people think these days. We label the responsible ones as wrong and they childish, spoiled ones as right. Its the American way.
Wanna know why so many of our youth drop out of school? Whywe have so many obese children in this country? Why there are so many deadbeat dads? Why SAT scores are so low in comparison to the educational standards of some other countries? Its called entitlement, folks. Maybe we need to stop cushioning life for our babies and let them grow up. And maybe its high time we look at the ones who are out there every day working so hard and stand and applaud them.
That’s all Im saying.
(Though my reply to the man who called the young mom of three a slut was slightly less detailed. And slightly less polite.)

On A Sea Of Testosterone

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Once upon a time there was a girl. And all she ever wanted to be was a mom.
She had it all figured out. As a teenager she decided she wanted a large family. At least six kids. Three boys. Three girls. Her first baby would be a girl. Her name would be Destiny Starr. Because it was an awesome name.
Apparently God didn’t pay much attention to my plans.
Because I’m six sons in now and still no sign of a daughter. I’m the lone sailor on a sea of testosterone.
To be honest, I DO have two female dogs and 3 female cats.
But I can’t chat with them about all things girly. All they care about is crunchies in a dish and getting their bellies rubbed. So, I’m pretty much alone here.
People seem to have some preconceived notions of what my life must be like. They envision a trashed house, covered in mud and bugs. I must be frazzled and walk around in football jerseys looking exhausted.
Um. No. See, I’m still a woman, Mm’kay? I still wear dresses. In fact, being a hippie, I basically live in dresses. I like flowers and faeries and Tori Amos and sparkly stuff.
But I admit, some days are tough in terms of keeping a firm hold on my femininity. I am fighting the valiant fight while teaching my sons manners and etiquette. I keep reminding them to say excuse me, to hold open doors, to chew with their mouth closed, to offer to help carry heavy bags of groceries for ladies or the elderly. I explain (AGAIN) why it is pretty darn important for them to only wear socks and underwear for ONE day, to keep their nails trimmed, to brush their teeth twice a day. And shockingly, I have learned that if you keep at it, you really CAN raise boys who can behave like proper young men in public. I’ll toot my own horn here and tell you I have received many compliments (well, so has my hubby , but lets be honest here, he can be just as bad as the kids.) on my childrens behavior when we are out at a restaurant or a store. I always tell people I consider my parenting a success if they behave in public the wayI teach them in our home.
But I will be 100% honest in this one. It’s not all pretty. I have pretty much given up on decorating the house. Because any knick knack I purchase lasts 24 hours tops before getting smashed. The few special things I have managed to keep from getting busted are tucked into my office. My office is forbidden to enter for any person under the age of 18 with penalties of sure death if this rule is broken.
My bras make great sling shots. The fridge and freezer are the perfect storage spots for random toys and shoes. (Yeah. shoes.) I once pulled a dead mouse out of a pocket of my sons pants. My boys have borrowed my nicest kitchen knife to dissect a field mouse they discovered our cat had killed. I have a sponge and a spray bottle of cleaner within reach of the toilet because I have to clean the toilet EVERY SINGLE TIME before I use it. And the floor around the toilet. And the wall. My porch has to get cleaned of nearly everyday because my 4 year old prefers peeing THERE. (I make my peace with this because at least its one or two less times I have to clean the toilet.) The most common words I hear daily are “Butt”, “poop”, “boogers” and “penis”. My house is littered withstray army guys, legos and matchbox cars. I have visions of an immaculate yard with gorgeous flower beds. Instead my yard is a mass of bikes, scooters, balls, skateboards and sports equipment. My headbands are used for ninja play. The tv always has some action/sci fi movie playing on it. Or PBS cartoons. (If I have to see one more episode of Caillou I swear I will stab myself in the eyes with a pencil.) I sweep and mop twice a day. At least. I own a carpet cleaner and I use it twice a week. No lie. No onein this house has the ability to aim for the actual trash can while tossing trash out. My life can be noisy and busy and crazy and chaotic and dirty and smelly. There are days I long for a long bubble bath. I wish I could burn a scented candle without my sons blowing it out and dipping their fingers in the melted wax so it hardens and they can then peel it off and say “Look Mom! Wax finger tips!” (That’s great son, now put the flippin wax BACK in my candle holder.Ugh)
But ya know what, It ain’t all bad. Not by a long shot. Before you go and pity me, let e tell you about the good stuff.
I live with 6 guys. This means when I get myself dolled up for church or whatnot, I have 6 males who all tell me how pretty I look. (Well, I have a hunch the baby only likes me for y breasts. But whatevs.) My 4 & 5 year old will randomly wander up to and tell me I look beautiful like a princess. My 3 oldest boys give me a hug and kiss before they leave for school every morning before school. At night, before bed, we all pile into my room and I read a couple chapters aloud while they actually STOP and listen intently. Sometimes my 9 year old offers to make me a cup of coffee. My 7 year old likes to write me little love notes and leave them for me to find all over the house. I get totally spoiled at Christmas. Last year my boys spent almost all of their savings on gifts for me from the dollar store. I got candles and coffee mugs and perfume and sparkly sunglasses and nail polish. On Mothers Day I get handmade cards and they serve me breakfast in bed. I may be alone much of the time on female stuff, but in this house I am queen. I may sometimes get the sense they are in some secret society that I cannot ever be a member of. In this society you have to have a penis, you have to know more than one Pokémon name, be able to name all the Star Wars characters in order of movie and be able to do that gross spit thing where you let it hang out of your mouth and when it gets within a fraction of an inch of the floor you slurp-suck it back up into your mouth. I may not ever be able to join their gross-boys club….but I consider myself a lucky woman. I don’t have to carry the groceries in from the car. I don’t ever take the trash to the outside can. I don’t have to battle the spiders. When I was on bedrest with my last pregnancy my sons brought me drinks and snacks and massaged my feet with lotion.
So yes, my life can be pretty nuts at times. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m a lucky mom. ❤

When The Victim Is To Blame

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The above is real. It was a survey given at a school. Real teenagers gave their opinions. And the results are appalling. Heart sinking. Sickening. And it makes us wonder what are we teaching our youth? No wonder so many girls and women in this country never even bother reporting sex crimes. We have it pretty well planted in our minds that circumstances have to be just so in order for it to TRULY be a crime.
You may have heard the news story recently about the two 18 year old high school football players charged with raping a drunken 16 year old girl. Sad, right? Here is the TRULY sad part, that girl has come under attack in a HUGE way. I read through dozens of comments yesterday from people who felt the need to share THEIR opinion on the matter after reading the news story. Person after person rationalized that CLEARLY this girl was asking for it. She got what she deserved because she got drunk. She was underage and drinking, she should be punished. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time……I got sick to my stomach reading these comments.
Go ahead and point a finger at her mistakes. Because none of US were never 16 years old making mistakes, right? Not one of us ever drank more than we intended or went to a party we maybe should have avoided or hung out with a friend who wasn’t that great for us. Right? We never dated the wrong person or blew money on a stupid purchase…..we are all perfect???????
Not even close.
I don’t give a rip if that girl was a nun at home reading her bible or if she got three different shades of stupid drunk and puked in her own purse. Rape is rape is rape. Its never ok. Its never anything less. Its assault. Its wrong. There will NEVER be a scenario when the victim is to blame.
I have six sons.I teach them respect. I talk to them about honor and integrity and being gentlemen. If they see a lady who is dressed scantily, they know to avert their eyes. I hope I teach them well enough that when they are teens, even if some drunk girl throws herself at them, that they will make a wise decision.
Because the sad fact is, more often than not victims of sex crimes do not report it. There is a stigma there for so much shame. To top it off, if they DO report it, it very often goes ignored. The police will tell you its your word against his. That you shouldn’t have been under the influence. That you have a reputation. etc….I have heard countless stories from women saying that is exactly what they were told.
I am one of them. I was raped. By a man I had a history with. So, who would believe me? He told me he would just tell them I had WANTED it. What proof did I have? That incident followed me for a very long time. Even to this day, there are moments with my husband where a millisecond will flash across my memory. There are rules now when it comes to sex, sadly. I freaked out one day when my husband ran his hand lovingly down my jawline while we made love. In my mind I was back in THAT night with the other man and HIS hand was on my neck squeezing until I was unconscious. My husband knows now not to go near my throat, not even to kiss. Its sad how rape mars what is meant to be a beautiful thing. I have learned over time to speak up. Because if no one does, it continues to get swept under the rug. And girls continue to be blamed. And they continue to believe they ARE to blame.
So, let me make this straight.
It doesn’t mater what you wear. Rape is Rape.
It doesn’t matter if you started to make out or lead him on and then changed your mind and said no. Even if he is already hard. Rape is Rape.
It doesn’t matter how much you drank. Rape is Rape.
It doesn’t matter if you are dating him, used to date him or are even married to him. If you said no and he did it anyway….Rape is Rape.
The fact is, those two boys made a choice. They had sex with a very inebriated underage girl. That was WRONG. I am sorry if the consequences lead to them losing their chance at the future they planned. But take it from someone who has been there, that girls life is already marred and changed.
Stand up. Speak out. No ALWAYS means no.
Always.

Birthing Blaze

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Blaze Marley was my sixth son. He was born August of 2012 after an exceptionally humid (read:miserable) summer. Although in retrospect it probably wasn’t really THAT hot…..but when you are growing a person in your uterus you tend to feel a tad like a hman incubator. So, I spent much of my last trimester in one of two places. In my faithful pink recliner about 3 inches from the air conditioner or sitting in my son’s 2 foot deep pool, a bloated hippo afloat in an oasis of coolness. (Oasis meaning I had kicked all the children OUT so I could soak without getting splashed.)
In the last two weeks of my pregnancy I had become very focused on one goal. To do this birth on my terms. I had birthed 5 sons before him. The first I had not known WHAT to expect, having been only a 20 year old girl without any experience to reflect on. BUt then my first son had been born in the midst of a thousand interventions, 5 weeks premature with a follow-up stay in the NICU. Utter sense of loss of control. Spiralled into Post Partum Depression. Then my third child slipped away in a miscarriage. Then a doctor advised me to abort my next child in case I miscarried THIS one as well. THAT was the final ball dropping. That was when I took my life into my own hands. I began to research obsessively. And I feel completely in love with the idea of a home birth. An unassisted home birth.
I won’t go into all of the statistics or data or reasons why I desire this sort of birth. Only to say that it speaks very eloquently and deeply to the primal core of myself. There is no fear or doubt in this decision. None at all. Not for a moment.
BUt circumstances always seem to hinder my desire. This time was no exception. Lets just say, when making a choice to do something that requires 100% of your soul and physical strength and focus…..do NOT allow a person into your presence who has doubts of their own that they may portray onto you.
And though a part of me sometimes mentally kicks me in the butt, wishing I had followed through, I cant say I regret too much. Because I labored and birthed pretty damn close to where I wanted it all to fall into place.
Those two weeks before, I would tuck my other sons into bed and then walk circles around our huge backyard. Dressed in one of my ever-trusty sundresses, a cat or two and all three dogs trotting along behind me as a waddled in rhythm while talking to my baby, looking to be for all the world, like some teeter-tottering Dr. Dolittle, I’m sure. I told my son within me about my dreams for his life, about my concerns, about my hopes. I asked him to come soon. I sent him vibes of love and life and health. I sang to him. I walked and walked hours upon hours under clear summer skies and stars.
I told my husband exactly the day Blaze would come. Because Blaze had told me. That exact morning I awoke early to a gush of fluid beneath me. NOt a huge torrent, but enough to awaken me and leave me with no doubt this was my water breaking. I was giddy. Gleeful that my communication with my unborn child had worked so well. I rubbed my tummy in eager anticipation and told my son I was looking forward to meeting him. I got up and went about my day, took care of the household duties and child care stuffs while changing the pad in my panties every half hour or so as it got soaked. I wasn’t concerned about time. I knew my body and this baby would come together to get this all accomplished at the perfect time. I trusted instinct and urge. I went out to the pool to empty it and refill it, scrubbing it out, stopping every so often to squat to the side and allow the amniotic fluid to leak onto the grass. (Removed the panties to avoid the hassle of going through a million pads.)
After the pool was complete I got changed, loaded the kids into the van and we all headed off to church. I enjoyed the fellowship and worship time. But after only 20 minutes I realized I was leaking fluid far faster than I had earlier that day. So, I explained to our beloved Pastor what was up and he brought my husband and I to the front so the church could lay hands on us and pray over us. I felt so much tangible love and empowerment in those moments.
It was literally the MOMENT we pulled into the driveway at home that the first REAL contraction hit. I held the car door handle and breathed through it. Slow and easy. From then on it was all about listening to my body. I tread a path through the yard, pacing and squatting as need be. I took a hot shower. I spent time leaning over my recliner. Back to the shower. Down on the rug on my hands and knees. Back outside. I felt amazing surges of energy, almost electric in quality. When the contractions grew in intensity I got loud. I closed my eyes and moaned primally. I cussed in a deep throaty voice that rumbled downward. I clutched my husbands hand. He tucked chux pads beneath my bottom as I squatted in our bedroom. He locked eyes with my gaze of love and intense fear in moments when it hurt so much I was nothing but waves upon waves of light and life and tearing and squeezing. The tv was on in the background but it was muted. The lighting was dim. Dave tried to wake the kids up but they wouldn’t wake. The world had taken on a grainy, unreal tint to it, much like a dream.
Then he was here. So fast was the pushing. Intense is the only word to describe it. I pushed when I wanted, stopped when I needed to take breaks. But I didn’t desire many breaks. I was spurred on in my excitement at meeting my son. I felt his head stretch out my insides as he passed up and over and through and then he was out, slick and beautiful and silent for the first moment. Dave cried. I couldn’t have quit smiling if you held a gun to my head and demanded it. All in all, from start to finish, labor itself (from first contraction) was only 6 hours long. From the time I first set foot into the hospital til he was born was about 15 minutes. Not too shabby.
I nursed him. He was a pro. He was marvelous. I undressed him and stared in utter awe at every single inch of his perfection. I was head over heel sin love. I wouldn’t put him down. Just held him as I ate the meals the hospital brought me. Held him as I signed papers. Held him as I watched tv. Held him as they took my blood pressure. I set him in his little isolette so I could pee and he felt a million miles away. When he was only 24 hours old they showed the documentary of Bob Marley on tv. I sat in the hospital bed nursing him and snuggling him and explained all about his namesake. I explained why he carried with him the name Marley as a middle name. Along with his second middle name Honor. I sat and watched the story of Bob Marleys life and pondered the journey of seeking peace, of blessing others, of living an honorable life. And here I held this fragile, unblemished little soul in my arms, fed him from my breasts. I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the gift of this moment.
Blaze Marley-Honor. My beautiful boy.
My cup runneth over. ❤

Remembering Ken

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That first photo is the guitar pik that I found while cleaning my shelves in the livingroom a week after Ken died. It was my last gift from him. He never had thechance to give it to me along with theguitar he had bought me for my birthday. guitar pikdrez1favoritekenreading2boysnewspaperphot
That photo of Ken and I…….This was the photo they used in the newspaper article. The one detailing the last day of my best friend & fiancés life. The one I was interviewed for over the phone while on my cell while I was attempting to shop for the necessary items I would need to make the 18 hour bus trip from NC to OH for the funeral. I say attempted because I really didn’t accomplish much of anything. I wandered aimlessly up and down aisles of the small dollar store I had shoppd in a million times before. But this time it was like I was in a foreign land. Nothing was familiar. I couldn’t even remember how money worked. The man on the phone kept asking questions, the most basic, simple questions. Things I should know. I tried desperately to come up with responses that would encapsulate Kens life, his role in our family, what he meant to myself and my boys. (OUR boys, as he had come to call them in the course of our 2 year relationship.) My words felt watery and shallow to my ears. When the article came out, a couple of days later, it was kind and respectful and I wrote the journalist a heartfelt letter of thanks on his FB page. Because it was one of the rare moments of respect regarding his death for many months.
To make a very long story short I will simply say Ken had a drinking problem. It was something that ran in his family, and it was a demon that he battled with for many years. He was never a violent drunk. He drank because he was ashamed. Of the drinking. Which led to this awful cycle. He was his own worst enemy as far as self-love. He would try so very hard to stop and would do wonderfully for awhile but then it would get the better of him and he would take off, stay gone for a few days at a friends house and stay drunk. Anyone who met Ken, who knew him, knew he always had a huge smile on his face and was always the first to help a person out, to speak a word of kindness. I fell in love with him because he made me laugh.
The man I was with before Ken was abusive. Ken made me feel safe. He fast became my closest friend. I cant explain our connection. We simply GOT eachother. I am trepidatious to use the word soulmate as it seems so cliché.
So many times I begged him to quit drinking. He tried. He really did. But unless you have struggled with addiction you cannot imagine how tight the bonds are that tie you to the devil when you begin to dance with him. Pretty much every single friend and family member told me to leave him. But I couldn’t. I told him once I couldn’t imagine existing without him, surely I would cease to exist if he died before me. I was unaware at that time of the strength within myself.
He was a good Dad to my boys. Truly. He loved them all and called them his but he forged a special bond with my youngest, who was only a couple of months old when we began our relationship. They were inseperable. Drezdyn would not sleep unless he was nestled on Kens chest. He lit up with smiles so bright when they played together. Everyone simply assumed it was his son. And for all intents and purposes he was. Ken died 9 days after Drezdyn turned two. And to this day, my now 4-year-old can tell you what they used to play and what song it was Ken used to dance with him to.
On January 29th,an officer showed up at my door. I swear for a few seconds it didn’t even phase me because it happened to be the officer who attended our church with his wife and was in our sunday school class. I assumed he was there on church business. And yes, there was the pastor right behind them. But there was another office….one I didn’t recognize. I naivly smiled at them and said hello. They ushered me outside, off my porch, to the walkway. I closed the door on my 5 sons who were watching a movie whilethe chocolate chip cookies we had just made were baking in the oven.And that was the very last moment of my old life. The cookie batter in a bowl on the counter, my boys blissfully innocent of loss.
“We have some bad news, Tonia……Ken passed away last night.”
Two things happened at the same time. One, I dropped top my knees and sobbed. I don’t cry in front of others. I get very self conscious normally and tell myself to toughen up. BUt I simply dropped and keened in on myself. Not even tears. Just some strange guttural sound from within myself, my arms wrapped tightly around myself as if I was afraid of splitting open and falling apart right there. The second thing, was this other smaller portion of myself which immediately disconnected from me and thought “I thought they only said it like that in the movies.”

Those two separate parts existed separately for a few days. The broken aching part was very very numb, very very scared and very very alone. The other part tried her best to get things done. I began by calling Kens mom. The officer was attempting to ask me question after question. I tried teling him answers. I found out my texts to him, and his back to me, were the very last human contact he had with any person on this earth. Which means his last words to me were “I love you” and my last words to him were the same. I am eternally grateful for that. I called his mother. Right there, in the midst of the officer trying to talk to me I told him I hadto do something. Because it dawned on me that this woman, this woman I hadn’t even had the honor of meeting yet because she lived in Ohio, was going to get a mothers nightmare of a phone call from some cop. I couldn’t have that happen. So, I called her. Told her. Listened to the heart broken sobs of a mother. That sound will be seared into my memory for the rest of my life. To have to tell a mother that her 42 year old son is gone……Its something I never wanted to do but I knew I needed to. There was no wussing out on any of this. Same went for telling my sons. Trying to answer their questions about death and God and heaven…..
Ken had been walking the Greenway. Its a paved pathway that runs along a river. He stopped at one point on his way home to sit and rest on a bench just a couple of feet from the riverbank. (We didn’t have a car at that time.) He sat and texted back and forth with me awhile. It was late by then, about 10 pm. Dark. He had been sober almost two months at that point and had just told me a few days earlier that it was the happiest and healthiest he had ever felt. In his pocket was a wedding ring and engagement ring he had just bought me that day. Maybe it was nerves he wanted to settle before proposing. Maybe it was simply temptation. But he drank that day. Too much. Maybe it was the alcohol. (though I doubt it because he was never thefall-down drunk type.) Maybe it was the simple fact it was dark and the damn bench was too close to the steep drop down to the river. Maybe someone pushed him. I honestly don’t know. The cops chalked it up to an accident. Many people, myself included believe there is something suspicious in it. But in this small town things get covered up, swept under rugs. When I began to dig for details I got warnings. Subtle but clear warnings. But nonetheless, Ken fell in the river. Drowned. Died. A lady and her daughter found his body the following morning. While I was washing dishes, playing football with my boys, changing my youngest sons diaper, they were painstakingly pulling his body out of the river. I always assumed I would SENSE if someone I loved died. But the world kept spinning.
I went to the Greenway the next day with my mom, walked every damn inch of it obsessively. I wanted to know where it happened. How it happened. Why it happened. God bless my mother, she walked with me for hours. Im sure I looked on the verge of a breakdown. I was someplace else. I wanted every detail. The following day an officer took me to the site. It was right where I had guessed it had happened. He asked what I wanted to know.I said “Everything.” So he told me. Told me how his body was floating in the water, face down, arms splayed, still holding the shopping bags from his shopping that day. He gave me Kens belongings. A soggy shoe box with one brand new hiking boot.(they never found the other.) His wallet and phone. Both muddy. Photos of myself and the boys in his wallet coated in river mud. A pack of gum. Loose change. And then the box. The tiny black ring box. I took it wordlessly, stoicly. Stepped outside, walked around to the side of the building where no one could see me and cracked it open. Two beautiful rings sparkled beneath a layer of mud. I wiped them clean and slid them on and cried. I told Ken they were beautiful. Cried more.
The bus trip to Ohio was hell. I hadn’t slept in three days. But everytime I began to drift asleep on the bus I would see Ken drowning, reaching for me, begging me to save him……I met his family for the first time and they were lovely and so kind.
I saw his body. My very first dead body. I broke down and sobbed, kissed his cold lips like I was kissing a stone. I placed myhand on his hands and it was the same…the same hand I had held a million times before. But not. It felt like velvet and ice. Soft and cold with an unfamiliar hardness underneath. I remember thinking it really didn’t LOOK like him, more like a wax figure replica. There was makeup on his face and his hair was nothing like he styled it. He hair had been his obsession and I remember going outside and calling my mom, telling her I wanted to go buy a brush and fix his damn hair. It bothered me so strongly.
His funeral the next day. I spoke. I read a poem aloud. I kissed him one last time. I watched his father, usually so stoic and strong, fall apart and throw himself over his son in the casket, sobbing loudly. Another memory seared into my mind.
I went home. Life went on. I didn’t really have much of a choice with 5 young sons to raise. We fumbled our way through the days and months, helping to hold each other up, each coming to terms with God in our own way. A year after Kens death I took out the box with his possessions in it, the stuff that made me sad, the things from his last day, the stuff that only reminded me of his death and not his life.I took that box and emptied it out. Dumped it into my firepit after the kids were in bed. Sat and talked to Ken for awhile. And then I burned those things. Because I didn’t want to live my life in grief. I wanted to move on. To honor his memory by my life.
I try my best to do so everyday.
He once told me how proud he was of me, how strong he thought me to be, how impressed he was by my spirit, my tenacity. I didn’t really see it in myself. But he helped me with that. I am forever thankful for that.
All I am doing from this point on is because of who he helped me become. Who I am today is due in great part to a man I only had for 2 years, but who filled my heart with a lifetime of memories.
Rest in peace, Kenneth Wayne Kubit. And thank you. ❤

Why I Write

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I still can remember the very first poem I wrote. I was 9 years old and while waiting for the bus to school I heard a crow. I looked up and sitting regally at the very top of a huge pine tree nearby was a stark black crow. Something about the beauty of it inspired me to write so I whipped out a composition notebook and jotted out a basic poem.
Over the years I have always been a writer. Poetry, essays, short stories, journals,even a couple books. I discovered that writing really was a fantastic form of therapy. I have filled countless composition books in my life. Stacks of them are stored away in boxes in my shed, more are stashed in my office.
I have one for each of my boys. I begin writing the day I discover I am pregnant, writing letters to my unborn child and continue writing to them as they grow. I tell them my dreams and hopes for their future. I try to instill a little wisdom. I chronicle memories of their development and birthdays and holidays. A few of those love letter journals were begun for children I never birthed. They ended up developing into books filled with pages written by a mother in grief, and eventually coming to a place of acceptance and peace as I write letters to angel babies I never got to hold. My first miscarriage was the hardest, because I was halfway through my pregnancy when I lost it. I spent years writing letters to that baby. It helped to write my feelings down, how I was angry at God, how I ached to hold that child at times, how I was so very aware of missing a child when Christmas rolled around. I filed an entire journal up with those letters and it is incredible to read back and see the gradual progression from grief to healing.
When I was a teen and my mom and I would but heads (as all teen girls and moms do) I would pen angry letters to her. And then rip them up. When I fell hard for the popular boy in school and he wouldn’t even look my way, I wrote him romantic sonnets. And then ripped them up. I wrote poetry for competitions and won awards. My first paid poem was for a gentleman in my church who paid me $20 to write a poem inside a card for his mother for Mothers Day. I was 14. My first story I ever wrote was a fictionalized story about a war vet from the Gulf War. It was 15 pages long. I was 11. I gave it away to a lady who worked at the daycare where my baby brother went. Simply because she liked it. When I was 13 a teacher watched as I penned a poem out, two full pages, in under 5 minutes. She told another teacher about it who in turn went out on his teachers salary and bought me a gorgeous journal. The next day he called me into the office he shared with a couple other teachers and gave me the journal and told me to keep on writing because I had a gift. When I was 11 a teacher gave me a bound copy of Maya Angelous inauguration poem with a note inside to keep writing. When I was 12 a teacher would ask me nearly everyday if I had written a novel yet. Writing was simply always a pat of every bit of my life.
When my first husband left me I penned pages and pages of hurt and angry letters that I never did anything with. Eventually I moved on with my life and threw them away. 5 years later I began writing a fictional novel about a woman who lost her husband when he drowned. It encapsulated her life after his death and all of the emotions that go with that experience. In the finest of unfortunate ironies (or perhaps I KNEW what was coming somehow.) my fiancé passed away a year after I began the novel. He drowned. He had read each chapter as I finished writing, helping me edit it. It still sits unfinished in my desk. I doubt I will ever complete it.
When I finally got myself out of an abusive relationship I wrote poems about rage and fear and hope and healing. When I married my best friend in 2011 I tentatively began to fill notebooks with rhyme again.It began with writing my own vows for our wedding. (I had taking a sabbatical from writing after Kens death.) It felt good to put pen to paper once again. Like coming home. When I saw injustice in the world I began to write defiant and strongly worded letters to anyone and everyone who could make some change come about. I started blogging. Not every day like I intended. But at least a few times a week. This turned out to be the very scariest form of writing for me. It is easy to write poems and journals and stack them neatly in boxes for no one to read except perhaps your children when they are grown. It is easy to pen out a well worded letter to a faceless CEO of some company three states over. It is a rather different thing to put your thoughts out there for your peers to read. It carries with it a sense of vulnerability. Sometimes I am just silly and that’s pretty easy. But then we get to days where I write about tiny 6 year olds dying in school shootings and how it makes me feel, or men jumping from buildings, or babies dying in wombs, or husbands leaving, or best friends dying…..and suddenly its all a bit more real and tangible. But as a writer I am aware that if I leave it all inside, it goes nowhere but stuck. This writing thing is for me more than you,I suppose. If something I write makes you think or smile or cry, then I am okay with that. But if no one ever read it, it still would heal me. I liken it to listening to music….really GOOD music, full volume , but never allowing yourself to sing along or dance. These words demand to come out, to sing a song and dance across the page. I am merely the instrument.
I write not because I can, but because I MUST.

Hold Them Close

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Been doing a bit of crying in the past 24 hours. Yesterday there was the story of the infant who underwent a circumcision surgery and met with serious complications. Late last night I heard the news he had passed. As a mother I cannot fathom that ache…..to sign the papers for a surgery to take place and to suddenly lose your child as a result. To have a newly born babe is such an intense rush of emotions….and to have to go from extreme bliss and nirvana to the utter devastating, irrefutable darkness and agony of loss…..I cannot even bear to ponder too deeply on it. I want to wrap those parents in my arms and attempt to soothe the hurt in some meager way. When I read the news he had passed I gathered my own sweet, sleeping baby up into my arms and just covered his beautiful face with kisses and thanked God for being able to do so.

Then today, a friend on FaceBook posted a photo, an achingly sweet, sweet photo of the hand of her 13 days old grandson who had passed from SIDS. They had buried him earlier today. I looked at that photo, at his perfect tiny hand, and I just broke down and wept. It could have been my own sons hand. All chubby and dimpled and tiny and marvelously formed. I wondered how the family managed to make it through that service. To have a son less than two weeks…….its enough to fill an entire lifetime of memories, but far, far too soon to let go.

In these moments, when I ponder the very real fragility of life as a whole, I find myself overwhelmed by gratitude. My six sons are healthy. They are here. I watch them through my window riding bikes, teasing eachother, soaking up the sunshine. And I am so thankful to have them here. Thankful they get to feel that sunshine. I don’t deserve my children any more than those mothers who lose theirs. Not in any way. I am reminded it could have been me. I could have left that hospital empty-armed. I could have buried a child…….

I send my prayers up for those hurting right now. For the empty nurseries. For the breasts filling up with milk until they ache to be emptied. For the weeping mothers and grieving fathers. And I hold my own sons close. Oh so close. And thank God for them. Everyday.

VOICES (A poem)

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VOICES
They tell me I can’t possibly tread this water.
Cant possibly skim even the surface of the purpose
of this mystery.
But if history
tends to run on a cycle of repeat,
If desire is the sum of passion and heat,
Then I can tell them my viens drip lava.
Glowing red like flames,
steaming up like my mornings cup of java.
I carry determination like a sturdy weight on my back.
My eyes focused forward, pay no mind to the slack
To the pulling and straining and feet-dragging behind me
To the voices that haunt and try to remind me.
Theres a glow up ahead,
a shining, a shimmer,
A promise in the distance where the fears all grow dimmer.
They can’t keep my feet from this path,
They cant turn me away, theres just no turning back.
They shout louder and louder and shake fists at the sky,
Demanding some reasons, some hows and some whys.
And maybe they see in a glimpse, in a moment,
That this peace from within,
This place to begin
Is so much bigger, wiser, stronger,
That it cant be ignored any longer.
But I havent time to answer these questions
Though posed from the left and the right
I havent time to pause and ponder
Nor time in me left to fight.
Im just moving onward, moving upward,
Past the shadows in the corners,
Eyes aimed toward that shining distance
beyond the grievers and mourners.
They tell me to give up, to give in,
They say love cannot triumph over fear.
They tell me I cant possibly tread this water,
But I’ve been doing it for 33 years.

Tonia Starr

Letter to My SomeDay Daughter

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I have six sons.
Not on purpose, mind you. My plan was to have a daughter first. She would have blonde hair and big blue eyes and I wold name her Destiny Starr. I had this plan all figured out by the time I was 14 years old.
But apparently God doesn’t pay much attention to MY plans.
I love my boys with so much love my heart can barely fit it all in. Seriously. They are my reason for breathing, my soul-song. I can’t imagine life without them. Being a mom of all boys can be like treading into scary, unfamiliar territory at times. But it also is the most fun EVER. Its a blast. Its all wrestling and football and superheroes and silliness blended with those sweet little boy snuggles and the unbearable cuteness of a chunky two year old in overalls. I am queen of this house and that’s pretty darn cool.
BUT, sometimes I long for a princess. Sometimes I am out, at the park or at a diner and I will see a little girl and imagine for a moment what it would be like if she were my daughter. The toddler at my sons awards ceremony at school with her mom, the one with the Shirley Temple culs and the stripey shirt with the polka dot pants and glittery tu tu and kitty rainboots…the girl at the playground with the long flowing hair dancing in the grass to the music in her head…..the little girl at church snuggling on her moms lap as they share a snack out of the moms purse……these are all glimpses of the someday daughter in my heart. Because as much as I adore my sons, I still find I longto share what I know and what I am learning as a woman with another future woman. ❤
And yes, I do realize that the someday daughter may never actualy exist. But if she ever does…..this is what I would say to her.
Dear SomeDay Daughter,
The fact is, no matter what I tell you in this letter, you are still going to go out and make your own choices. I know that and I accept it. I hope you take some of what I say to heart and embrace it as truth at some point but I also encourage you to carve out your own pathway in this wilderness of a world. Life is far more exciting that way. Trust me on this. The only result you get from following the crowd is exactly what you see all around you. Never doubt the power in a simple decision to turn right when everyone else is turning left. Read Robert Frosts "The Road Less Travelled." Memorize it. Live by it. And remember, its never individuality if everyone else is doing it. That's called a fad. Two totally different things.
Ignore what society says is acceptable or normal for your mind and body. If you want to seek higher education, go for it. Your mind has no limit. If you want to shave your head or grow your hair to the floor…..pay no mind to those who disagree. If the latest fashion trend feels comfortable on you, wear them. If they don't, wear what does. he most important thing you can be is comfortable in your own skin, truly. Find your style and embrace it. Seek your own interests and become what you want. Go ahead and buy makeup. Its fun. Experiment with all the different ways to decorate your face and hair and body. Be silly. Be fancy. But then go wash your face. Save the makeup for the occasional night out. Or don't bother with it at all. Because you lok fabulous with nothing but a bare face and a smile. The most beautiful women I know are the ones who don't wear makeup. Its not about their outer appearance. Its about the fact the love and peace and joy within them shines so brightly that makeup would only dull that light. Don't let society convince you of crap like wrinkles are ugly or anything above a 0% body fat index is gross. Walk with good posture, make eye contact, smile. Be YOU. Youre gorgeous.
Never compromise who you are for anyone. True friends nurture you and build you up. Always.
Don't give yourself away to a boy just because he says I love you. Those are only words. Make him prove it. A real man will not be threatened by a strong woman. He will treat her like a lady and spoil her and lift her up in honor. If a man insists you have sex to prove YOUR love, walk away. No one should ever bully you into giving yourself away. Wait until you find that man who will wait for you. Wait until he gets down on a knee and promises you forever. You are worth it.
Always play fair. Never cheat or lie or steal. Dress modestly. Don't be afraid to give your opinion. There is no such thing as a stupid question.
When you are out in public, at school or wherever, and you are 100% convinced everyone around you is judging you because youre having a bad hair day or your jeans are old or you have a huge pimple on your forehead, let me reassure you, people are really not THAT focused on you. Believe me on this. Every single other person around you is dealing with their own insecurities. And those few people who tease you and make you feel bad? They are so wrapped up in their own insecurities they have to tear at other people to make themselves feel better. Isn't that sad? Feel sorry for them and move on. With grace.
When someone compliments you simply thank them.
If a guy tries to touch you in a way that makes you uncomfortable tell him NO. Loud and clear. If he does it again kick him in the balls.
Be a lady. You can be strong and still be a lady. This means don't be a whore. Don't get a reputation. Don't get fall don drunk or smoke or screw with drugs that will make you act like an idiot. Don't fight. Don't cuss like a drunken truck driver. Don't dress like a strung-out hooker. Have some class. For some reason classy ladies don't exist as often as they used to. Never mind "Bringing sexy back" Bring CLASSY back. That way, when people hear a rumor about you, they wont even pause to think it could be true for a second.
Take care of your body and respect it. I know having a monthly period can be a real hassle. But be thankful for your body being healthy. So many women don't have healthy regular cycles and therefore cannot have children and often have chronic pain. Celebrate the fact your body behaves exactly as it should be instead of whining about the hassle. Eat whole foods whenever possible. Get sunshine and fresh air everyday.
Most of all, know that you are loved. Immensely and totally LOVED. By God first of all. And by me. Always. No matter what choices you make. No matter how many times you fail. I will always love you. And so will God. That, my dear, is called grace. Live your life doling it out in abundance and you will find yourself surrounded in it. Love and grace always multiply.
Shine on, you crazy diamond.
xoxoxo
Mom