Monday, October 12, 2015

Mom is human.

I have always felt very strongly that I should answer the questions my children ask - about sex, death, math, reading, whatever - as honestly as I can and in as comprehensible-to-them a way as I can.  And I think my children need to know that I am human.  I am fallible.  I am damaged.  I am strong.  I am complicated.  And I love them unendingly.  Forever.  No matter what.

But sometimes...oh sometimes answering those questions and giving my children a glimpse of my most human parts is both natural and seemingly cruel.  Cruel to my kids or to myself, I'm not sure.

As I've fallen off the blogging bandwagon and hardly blogged in the two years since we left the town where my children were born and, hence, am sure to have new readers, I will give a quick re-cap.

I have PTSD and my main trigger is emergency vehicles.  Firetrucks are especially triggering.  Generally I am prepared when I'm driving to do a maybe-kooky thing to stop flashbacks because flashbacks while driving are not ok.  Sometimes I am blindsided.  It all goes back to the pivotal moments of my life as I watched my mother's life slip away suddenly.  So suddenly.

Tonight I briefly explained my trigger to Bean.  A-Train was there too, and knowing the way his little brain operates I'm sure he didn't miss a word of it as he stared out the window.

I was driving us home from a dinner and we pulled out onto the main road through town.  I heard sirens.  Check the rearview mirror.  Nothing.  Look ahead of me.  Nothing.  Check the rearview.  Nothing.  Check every side street.  Nothing.

By the time I saw the ambulance (thank goodness it wasn't a firetruck), I was stopped at a red light and it was coming toward us.  Heartbeat quickening.  There is no one in the north- or south-facing left-turn lanes so the ambulance can surely pass.  It's ok.  It's ok.  It's ok.  I must have mumbled something to The Beast as I held his hand and confirmed with him that the best thing for me to do was stay stopped exactly where I was.

Because Bean asked me why I was upset.

I've never given him details.

I've never told him that I ran after a firetruck to help Grandma Nita and I came back to find her, essentially, dead. 

But tonight, in the midst of trying to calm my body down and keep the adrenaline from really flowing, I told my son about my deepest, darkest, toughest, most-hidden damage. 

When Grandma Nita died I chased a firetruck.  It turned the wrong way and I wasn't sure how they would come back to help Grandma Nita.  And now my body sometimes does a thing where it acts like I'm back on that day.

The day Grandma Nita died.

Grandma Nita died.

My mom died.  And I'm your mom. 

It's ok for them to see that I'm human.  I don't think I'm ready for them to realize that I am mortal.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Brea's sweet potato, black bean, quinoa...thing

Posting this here because I get asked for it frequently.  It's just one of those things I made up.  I always use a jar of black beans that we cooked from dry, only for the sodium level.

2 medium sweet potatoes
chili powder
a can of black beans
2TBSP chipotle in adobo, whizzed or finely chopped. 
1 cup quinoa

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes (or smaller)
3.  In a bowl, coat the sweet potatoes with oil (I like safflower, but vegetable would work), and spices. 
4. Roast in the oven until soft and slightly browned (check every 15 minutes or so)
5. Rinse the quinoa very well in a strainer.  It will be bitter if not rinsed well.
6. In a medium-sized pot, bring 1.25 cups of water and the 1 cup of quinoa to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20minutes.
7.  When the quinoa is done, add the chipotle in adobo and black beans, mix together.
8.  Serve on tortillas with feta cheese on top.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


21 year ago today.  That seems impossible.  But it has been 21 years since my world was rocked and my soul shaken by the sudden, unexpected, traumatic death of my mother.

21 years later and I know she would be proud of me.  She'd be happy with the life I've built and who I've become.  She'd be grateful for those who stepped into the unfillable void - teachers, friends, family - and guided me through the lowest and most difficult time of my life, when I sometimes wasn't sure I wanted to keep going.

Her death tore my life and my family apart.  21 years later, I still think of her every day.  Sometimes it's happy thoughts (I still picture her laughing her memorable laugh and see those fillings in her teeth); sometimes they're bittersweet (I haven't managed to recall the sound of that laugh for years, except when its echo comes out of my own mouth); and sometimes they are full of stinging grief (how did my mother parent through particular phase? How sad for my children that they will never meet her.).

21 years.  My grief can legally drink now.

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