Losing Dad, Preggers

good morning.

Tonight is the eve of my dad’s birthday. I used to stay up till midnight to wish him a happy birthday. Tonight I decided to just be alone and think about him. Last year, his birthday hit me like a brick. It was the hardest emotional day for me following his death. It made things real and I have a feeling tomorrow will be no different. So, to make things a little bit easier, I figured I would write a little something about who he was. In his honor, I turned on some hymns, closed my eyes, and thought about what I could share.

For those of you who knew my dad, you knew him as a friend, a pastor, a preacher, a reverend, a doctor. You knew him as the man who always said “good morning” no matter what time of the day or night it was. To him, it was always morning, always a new day, always good. He had three bouts of cancer and he still said “good morning.” You knew him as that guy with the bushy beard, flannel shirts, fun ties, huge smile, and corny jokes. He was the guy who did your wedding or comforted you when someone you love died. You knew him as the guy who always came to the hospital to visit you, even when he was sick himself. You knew him as a good tipper because, as he said to me one day at a restaurant, “I probably make more than our server and I am on medical leave. She works hard every day and she needs that money more than I do.” You knew him as the man who was always reading more than one book and always wanted to know what you were reading. You knew him as the guy with the fig trees. You knew him as the man who, even after 43 years, was still head over heels in love with my mother. He was quick to laugh and smile and slow to anger. He did not hold grudges, he forgave, he loved, and he encouraged all of us to do the same.

I knew him as dad. I knew him as the guy who rarely went a day without calling me or texting me to see how I was doing. He remembered my friends and he remembered their stories. He listened. He was excited about everything I did. He was excited about what I was about to do. He never hesitated to tell me how proud he was of all of his children. He said we were all so different, but he loved us all the same and was so grateful that he could consider us his friends. Even when I worked in a bar, he was proud of me and saw past the work I was doing to see how I connected with people there. He was my weather channel. He warned me about bad weather and reminded me how to drive safely. He gave me updates when the Susquehanna was slowly creeping up its banks and getting dangerously close to my house. He showed me how to pump my gas, how to change my headlights, put air in my tires, fill my fluids, and replace my windshield wipers. He taught me how to find a stud and hang a picture. He taught me how to do my taxes. He went with me every time I bought a car and he taught me what questions to ask and how to choose the most reliable and sensible car.  I think he saw early on that my independent and stubborn nature would probably keep me single for a long time, so he taught me things to help me survive.

He took me to the Indian buffet, the Chinese Restaurant, and the Mexican restaurant and I watched him sweat through every meal. When the food came, he always looked at me and said, “You pray, I’ll pay.” Perhaps he knew I needed to pray more often. Perhaps he just wanted to take his almost always single daughter on a date. Whatever it was, he made me feel important. He taught me not to give up on people. He said, “People will let you down. They will disappoint you. Sometimes you will give them a chance even though you know they are going to let you down. Still, you need to give them that chance, because everyone needs someone who believes in them and sometimes that is all it takes for them to surprise you.” I wonder now how many times I was that person for him.

The last year has been a hard one. I miss his calls and texts. I miss his smile and his laughter. I miss the way my dog’s ears perk up when I say “grandpa.” I miss the weather updates and reminders to put my wiper blades up before it snows. I miss our dinners out and the way his voice sounded when he said, “wonderful!” I miss him every time I see my daughter kick through my skin because I want to call him and tell him how amazing I think life is and how this little thing inside me is such a miracle. Although he would not have been thrilled to learn that I had sex before marriage and that the father of my child was nowhere to be found, I like to think that the idea of another grandchild would have made him absolutely elated no matter what the circumstance.  I like to think that he would have bragged about her arrival.

Though I miss him, I still see him and sense him around me. Today I saw snow on the blooming daffodils outside my house and it made me think of him. I saw them and thought about how dad would see that and say, “Excellent!” Then, he would call me and tell me to stay off the roads and put my windshield wipers up. Just as he did when he was alive, these thoughts of him made me smile.

So, now that it is officially midnight and officially my dad’s 65th birthday, I simply send out into the universe a smiling “Good Morning!” and a sounding “Happy Birthday Dad! I love you!”dad

Advertisements
Standard
Going Solo: Single Parenthood, Run Momma Run

finish line.

In November, I was registered to run a half marathon in Philadelphia. I was so fatigued and weak during my first trimester that I was unable to run. That day, I was depressed and felt for the first time that my life would never be the same. Training for marathons and half marathons is my passion and my therapy. I love getting out there each day and seeing how far I can run. I love seeing how far I can push my body. In the last four years, I have run 2 full marathons, three half marathons, and a ten-miler. Each one took time, commitment, sacrifice, and stamina. Each one came with a great reward and each required a recovery period. For a few of them, I got to a point in the race when every inch of my body hurt and I was not sure I could continue. Still, with the finish line in mind, I pushed myself despite the pain and I finished. Twice, I hurt so much after the race that I could not move for at least a day or so. Yet I still registered for another race. It was worth it every time.

I’m supposed to be scared of labor. People have tried everything to break me. When I say that I am doing it drug free, they roll their eyes, say things like “good luck,” and say I am silly and naïve. The thing is that I am honestly not scared. A good friend of mine who has done an all-natural birth said to think of this time as my training and the labor and birth as my marathon. Like a marathon, a birth can be easier if one properly prepares for it. When I decided to approach this like a marathon, I no longer had fear about it. Like a marathon, it is mostly in your head.  I have my friend and doula who will be there to cheer me on and support me when I think I can’t go another step. I am carefully picking out each song for my perfect motivational playlist. I am stretching, doing yoga, and doing exercises to prepare my body. I am reading everything I can about the science behind birth so I know exactly what is going on in my body and what will go on in my body when I start going into labor. I have interviewed dozens of women to hear their birth stories and get advice. I am eating all the right foods, herbs, and vitamins in the same way I strategically carb up for a race. I WANT to feel the labor and the birth and I want to do this. My head is ready and so am I.

So if you are going to tell me your horrible painful birth story, stop right there. I don’t want to hear it. You are only negative energy and I am bringing my daughter into this world in a positive light. If you are going to tell me I am silly, crazy, or that I don’t know what I am doing, walk away from me. You obviously don’t know me that well. I have approached this like a marathon and a thesis all wrapped in one. I have consulted the experts and experienced “runners” and I know what I am getting myself into. Also, I am not a “young buck” or a little girl. I am a 35 year old woman who has completed a Master’s degree on my own, trained to run multiple races on my own, and traveled the world and gone to places you will probably never go in your lifetime.  Have you walked into a Guatemalan prison and been surrounded by more than 100 dangerous tattoo-covered gang members from some of the most dangerous gangs in the world? Yeah, I didn’t think so! And if you are going to say, “Just wait and see,” I say right back at you, “you wait and see!” I weighed 210 lbs. when I started running for the first time in my life and my first run was a half-marathon. I did it despite the fact that people said I couldn’t and I lost 60lbs in the process. I went on to complete two full marathons and I shocked myself and other people each time I crossed the finish line. I am me. I am not you.

punch

If you want to tell me I can do this and you recognize that millions and millions of women around the world and through time have done it and done it med-free, give me a call, pat me on the back, welcome to my friend circle. You are the people I want in my life right now. Why anyone thinks it is helpful or kind to criticize or be a naysayer to a pregnant woman is beyond me. None of us need that and it is not a supportive or loving approach. Shame on you! If you want to be supportive, just wait at the finish line for me. I’ll be the one sweaty, tired, and weak, but still going. I’ll be the one carrying a beautiful baby as the trophy for all my hard work.

Standard
Preggers

dance.

I am 13 weeks away from meeting my first child. Deciding to keep her came easily. Once I knew she was in there and saw that little heart beating on the sonogram, there was no other option for me. I didn’t care how my social life would change or how my family would feel about this child coming into the world out of wedlock. I didn’t care how society would view me. I didn’t care how her father would react when I told him I was keeping her. I didn’t care how she would affect my living situation or my job. I saw that little heart beat and just knew that I needed to protect it and knew that I would never let it go. I knew she was a gift and I was immediately willing to fight for her. No other person’s opinion or rejection of her mattered.

This week I have been reflecting on how my life has changed, how it was just six short months ago, and how it is about to change again. I think despite the joy and excitement every mother feels with the coming of her child, there is also sadness. There is a life that was and a new life that will be. Pregnancy is the ten months of in between where you taste a little of the old life and a little of the new life at the same time. Your friends begin to change, you start to eat and drink differently, and your house slowly transforms. Still, you can go out without finding a babysitter, you can go away for the weekend at a moment’s notice, and if you’re lucky, you can sleep in. You still only have you to worry about and care for.

dance

Seven months ago I was enjoying a carefree life with a new job, a summer fling, baseball games, bike rides, and bottles of wine. When I felt like it, I sat out on my porch and had a cigarette while I watched the sun set over the Susquehanna or stayed late for impromptu dance parties with friends. I ran almost every day. I spent my summer on the river bank drinking craft beers and white wines with good friends. A child was the last thing on my mind because I felt amazing and thought I could probably live this way forever and die totally happy. I had a naïve mentality that nothing could change unless I changed it and pregnancy was not on my radar. This life, though wonderful, also comes with a certain level of foolishness and selfishness.

A few days ago I walked around my house. I ran my hands over my heavy bag and boxing gloves, I looked at the bottle of gin untouched and covered in dust, and I looked at the clothes that no longer fit. I closed my eyes and played Zac Brown’s “free” full blast as I remembered the night in September when I listened to it live in Nashville with a whisky and coke in my hand only hours after running a half marathon. Motherhood was not on my mind and single motherhood was unthinkable. Being single, free and without kids seemed like the perfect life to me.  I had no clue that only two days later my world would change forever. I will box again and run again and I will even enjoy a nice glass of wine here and there, but that life is gone. The thing is, I am 35 and I have enjoyed absolute freedom for 15 years. I have travelled the world, I have completed my education, I have gone out and partied and come in with the sunrise hundreds of times.  I loved that life and enjoyed it, but I have a feeling I am not really going to miss it.

Now, I am thinking about daycare, care seats, strollers, and good school districts. I skip the bottle of wine and the night out so I can have more money for my baby. I look at baby clothes and decorating ideas on Pinterest. My car is full of secondhand bottles and clothes and they look like priceless treasures to me. Now, I am already looking forward to nights at home with my daughter playing dress up and tea party and having permission to be a kid again. Don’t get me wrong. I will still dance till sunrise. The difference is that now I will be dancing because there is joy that has entered my life that is far beyond any joy I have ever experienced before.

Standard