Working on something…

I haven’t written on this blog in a week, but that means little, since I have been writing on a blog. For a few years now, I’ve had an idea – or I guess a bunch of ideas – pinging around in my head. I think last week I finally decided it was time. That life wasn’t going to wait for me to grow a pair and just get started, and that I would regret it forever if I didn’t finally just tell the darn story.

I remember how I felt that I was a capable writer in college, and how over the last few years that feeling has all but disappeared. It’s nobody’s fault but my own, but I just lost all my confidence in that area of my life. Fortunately, it’s kind of like riding a bike – you may not think you can do it, but after you get back in the saddle and maybe fall off once or twice, it comes right back to you. Before you know it, you’re sailing through the wind – or in my case, paragraphs and pages – and it all makes sense again.

I won’t go so far as to say that all these ideas make sense to anyone but me just yet, but I’m getting pretty close. I started a private blog where I can work on “chapters” (not sure what else to call them at this point, so “chapters” is it), and so far it’s a system that is working out extremely well for me. The thing about the chapters is that they’re more like vacuums, really – little segments of time separated out into parcels that stand alone. My goal is to have them weave together a story.

The story is part family history, part memoir (a word which I haaaaate, but there you have it), part fiction. What? Nobody’s family history or life story is really interesting enough to warrant a novel. I’m pretty sure even the Kennedy’s had more boring, plain days than they did extraordinary, remarkable ones. I really don’t want to tell too much at this point, so I thought I’d post an inspiration “board,” if that makes sense (it probably doesn’t). Some pictures, images, and even songs that are really playing into this thing in a strong way.

I know that this could and in all likelihood will all come together and I will be the only person who gets goosebumps from it – that’s a risk I’m willing to take. This is really more about self-discovery, just writing the crap down, and finally finishing what I’ve started a few times now. I don’t really expect most people to care, but I know a few people who will. My grandfather would care. My dad will care. My mom will be proud. My husband will read every chapter. My kids will treasure it one day. If that is all it ever becomes, then that is my only real goal. And to finish it – finally.

The Bravest Mother on Earth

Before I became a mom, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was coming. The moment I found out I was pregnant, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of love for the unborn child that was still just a tiny collection of cells within me – and I thought I was beginning to taste how strong the love for my child would be. Just beginning – I knew it would be different when he was born, and evolving over time thereafter. But I thought I was starting to get it.

I wasn’t. Just speaking for myself personally, but what I couldn’t have ever anticipated was the connection that would materialize between me and other mothers. Despite our backgrounds, our politics, our opinions, our looks, or any of that other stuff that we so often use to critique and categorize each other, a mother is a mother. It doesn’t matter if you carry a child and birth them, if you adopt them, if you take care of them in the absence of a parent who has serious issues or is unable to do a good job for them, etc.

About a year ago, I began following the blog that chronicled the heartbreaking and perspective-bringing journey of Courtney Roth. Courtney’s son, Tripp, was born in May of 2009. He was born with a terrible skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, or E.B. Tripp’s journey and that of his mother was a tale told on this blog “E.B.’ing a Mommy.”

In the case of Tripp’s kind of E.B., the junctional variety, patients typically do not live past two years of age. In Tripp’s case, he went to be with the Lord on Saturday the 14th of January, at exactly two years and eight months of age.

If you want to know who the bravest mother on the face of the planet at this very moment is, it’s Courtney Roth. Please go tell her so. And then go hug your babies.

God bless you, Tripp. I’m so happy you aren’t hurting anymore. But I’m so sad for your mommy. She’s amazing.

Pinterest Tutorial for Newbies

A couple friends have said they were interested in Pinterest and wanted to know how to get started. Here’s a quick primer to get you going:

  1. Signing In: You can either create a new Pinterest Account or use your existing Facebook or Twitter account to log in. HOWEVER, first, you must go to the homepage and click the “Request an Invite” tab. You’ll just enter your email address and your invite will come in usually just a few hours or less. We’re not sure when Pinterest will go from Invitation Only to freely signing people up, but this may be set up this way to deter spambots and similar junk machines from clogging up the site.
  2. Once you get your invite in the email, click the link in the body of the message and start setting up you page. You can add a profile photo from your hard drive, your name or a screenname (whatever you prefer), your location, and some other information.
  3. Now that your account is created, you’ll have a log-on “homepage” of different images that people you know (or in some cases, don’t know) have pinned. It will look like this:
    1. Now, to start your boards. To start a new board, click the link at the upper right hand corner that says “Add+” and choose the option “Create Board.” Then fill in the name of your board (“Recipes to try,” for example), the category for the board, and whether you are the only person who can contribute to it or not. This way, say if you’re planning a party with a friend, you can work on a Pinterest board for your menu together and both contribute. But in most cases, you’ll be the sole contributor.
    2. To pin an image you find on the site, just click the upper left hand corner of the image where it says “Repin” and choose from the drop-down menu of your existing boards or, if you like, create a new board for that image.
    3. When you pin or repin an image, make sure you don’t keep the Facebook box at the bottom of the pin pop-up clicked all the time, unless you want every single thing you pin to show up on your Facebook profile.
    4. If you find something online elsewhere that you want to pin, or if you have an image of your own that you’d like to pin to a board, upload the image or use the image URL (web address) from websites to add it. To upload the pin, click the “Add+” tab at the upper right hand corner again, and this time choose the “Upload Pin” or “Add Pin” tabs, depending on whether you’re uploading or simply adding from a website. Be sure to use both the image URL for the image itself and the website URL from the website it came from, so that other Pinterest users can access the same information. This is especially useful for recipe and DIY tutorial Pins, so that other users can access detailed directions for those types of projects.
    5. To delete a pin or board, use the “Edit” button on them to delete them. The edit function is also used to change text, URLs that have expired (if you want to keep the pin and can find an updated URL), Pin or Board category, etc.
    6. If your Pinterest account is tied to your Facebook account, you can easily find people to follow using the drop-down menu under your name at the far upper right corner of the screen where it says “Find Friends.” You can also use this to invite friends to the service.
    7. If you have your settings arranged in such a way, your email will be notified when someone starts following your boards. Some may follow just one or two boards, some will follow all your boards. To change those settings for what and how much you get emailed, go to the Settings tab under your name at the upper right hand corner of the screen, then click “Notifications.”

If you have any other questions, let me know in the comments section. Happy Pinning!

Haley Barbour: A Fool and his Felon Friends

Two weeks ago, I traveled to the great state of Mississippi for the first time to attend my nephew’s wedding in the insanely small town of Shubuta. Seriously, look it up. Actually, we darted willy-nilly between the three booming metropolises of Shubuta, Waynesboro, and Clara over that two-day dash. Covered plenty of ground, particularly two-lane roads that had no line in the middle (that was a novelty). But really, Mississippi is not all that different than South Carolina, geographically or otherwise. I grew up hearing the South Carolinian joke about “Thank God for Mississippi,” and though I’ not sure us Sandlappers should be getting so uppity, the sentiment resonates with me nonetheless. I really didn’t like that whole bit about no lines in the road. Some people (my dad) need those lines.

But what I didn’t know two weeks ago was that Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour was just days from ending his term and turning the office over to newly elected Phil Bryant. Why did I not know this? Probably because I don’t care. But alas, I think it suddenly matters to me more now. 

Newly minted Governor Phil Bryant’s entrance into the storied asylum of deep south politics was overshadowed by the fact that the honorable ex-Governor Barbour ended his term by pardoning 199 different criminals. Fabulous! Because from what I saw at that small-town Walmart, they’re a few short of the “Town Crazy” quotient. This should mop that up in short order. Oh, but seriously: What the —-? 

This is exactly the kind of guy that I want to see roaming around in downtown Shubuta or some similar locale – 

I mean really, he looks like a nice young fellow, doesn’t he? This is 40 year-old David Gatlin. David is a jerk, first and foremost, because he shot and killed his estranged wife Tammy in 1993 while she was holding a newborn baby. I’m sure there are other reasons he’s a jerk, of course. Now, Dave here was sentenced to life in prison, and was denied parole this very month. But none of that matters now, because Haley Barbour thought the guy was pretty nice and a hard worker, and well, geez…can’t we just forget about that whole putting-a-bullet-in-his-wife-business? I mean, come ‘aaaaaaan.

At least on parole, psychos like this guy would have to check in with the judicial system. But now that his slate has essentially been wiped clean, he can do anything he wants, including buy a gun, vote, run for office, or live right next door to the family of the woman he murdered. David Gatlin is one of the two dozen people in that 200-person pardon round up whose crimes were listed as murder, homocide, or manslaughter. Others were rapists and armed robbers. Some were drug criminals and DUI convicts. Many were bribery, forgery, and other similar (non-violent) charges. But really, it’s the violent and deadly ones I’m fired up about, so let’s not split hairs. Some pardons were conditional, but in reality, the majority were full and unconditional – meaning they’re free to walk out and start right back up on their straight and narrow path.

Note: When I say “slate wiped clean,” I mean it. Upon further investigation of the issue, pardons are an unchecked part of the rights of a head of state (such as a Governor or President). There is no overturning of a pardon, no reversing, no recourse. As in, the criminal record no longer exists, no buts about it.

You can read the entire rundowns of pardons Barbour issued during his time as Governor of MS, including the ones issued yesterday, here. Some other brief highlights of Barbour’s inexplicable gutting of both the judicial system and the idea of basic human rights:

  • A full pardon of the brother of NFL quarterback and Southern Mississippi star Brett Favre, Scott Favre. Scott drove in front of a train in Pass Christian while under the influence back in 1996, resulting in the death of his best friend Mark Haverty. Favre was sentenced in 1997 to a year of house arrest plus two years’ probation. I’m not even sure what the heck the point was for this other than to say to people “Hey, if your brother is good enough at throwing balls, we’ll relieve you of a conviction on your record that is over 15 years old and for which you’ve already served the sentence.”
  • Anthony McCray, who killed his wife in 2001.
  • Joseph Ozment, convicted of killing a man during a 1994 robbery.
  • Charles Hooker, sentenced to life for a 1992 murder.
  • Nathan Kern, sentenced to life in 1982 for a burglary that took place after at least two prior convictions.
  • Azikiwe Kambule and Santonia Berry, both convicted in the 1996 death of Pamela McGill, the victim of a car jacking by the two aforementioned brainiacs. The targeted auto in the case: A 1993 Dodge Stealth. Totally worth killing someone.
Probably the most INSANE part of this whole bit was, when he was questioned repeatedly about this blatant disregard for public safety, victims’ rights, and just general common sense, Barbour had this sociopathic reply:

“It’s Phil Bryant’s day.”

What, like it’s a special Governors-only holiday where you just take a vacation from having any semblance of a conscience, or silly things like morals and ethics? Right. And this is just flat-out strange when you consider that uber-conservative Republicans like Barbour was in office typically err on the side of keeping prisoners in prison and having them serve their time to the very last moment.

Err…that is…

Unless of course you’re a large group of prison “trustees” (which seems a very illogical and backwards job title to me on a whole other ideological level) who have nice personalities (other than having shot yo’ woman down). Then…well, it’s okay. Call me narrow-minded, but I always thought roadside trash pick-up and general manual labor was best suited for convicts, while service at the Governor’s Mansion should perhaps be reserved for people who…ya know…don’t kill people. Hmm.

There is absolutely no redemptive value in pardoning this amount of violent, lethal offenders (or, ya know…any). Many of those pardoned for murders and homicides actually PLEAD GUILTY. It also says quite a lot about how Haley Barbour views women when the large majority of the field of murder/homicide convictions he pardoned were in cases where men killed their wives or girlfriends.

So, needless to say, I think Haley Barbour sucks. At life. And I sincerely hope that if this windbag ever seeks public office again (God help us), people will not forget this stunt.

Why innocent "Thinspiration" is still damaging to women

As many of you know, I have a Pinterest account. I love using it to get new recipes and ideas for home improvement projects that I will actually probably never even start, much less complete. But if I have chicken thawed and no idea what I want to do with it, Pinterest usually helps me find something delicious and new to try with it.
In fact, this reckless recipe searching has resulted in only one real culinary near-disaster, which I managed to salvage. So I think overall, it has been a success.
I really enjoy the comedy offerings Pinterest has. Depending on if you follow people with a similar sense of humor, you’ll often come upon fun little tidbits like this or this. Or, if you want to laugh until you pee a little (what? I didn’t say I did…), then try this:
Really, The Oatmeal is the best. Tell your kids.

Now in my occasional use of this image-heavy service to find workout ideas, I’ve encountered some fitness inspiration and similar motivational images – both surprising and expected. I’ve been running for exactly ten years this month, but sometimes when I need a change I get great workout ideas like this one on Pinterest. However, I’ve come across some almost disturbing “body inspiration” shrines in my searching, and I want to talk about it today.
It would be troubling enough if some of these “thinspiration”-esque images were being pinned and repinned mostly by teenage girls who often lack the perspective to properly digest influences that bombard them with increasing fervor these days. But in reality, Pinterest is used primarily by women age 25-44. So basically…women old enough to start separating the fantasy of Photoshop from the reality of back-of-the-thigh fat deposits. 
I think fitness inspiration is one thing – images of actuality (not posing), strong women, real bodies, strength painted over a normal, flawed canvas. I can get behind the idea of promoting health, strength, enpowerment, etc. But I find this “thinspiration” to be a little…um…stupid. And remember, I used to have disordered eating and exercise issues – so consider the source.

See this? This is stupid. Here’s why: No amount of gym visits will get you this exact body. How do I know this, you might ask? Well, my eating disorder never resulted in this physique for me, for one thing. 

I’ve been 5’8″ or above since the end of middle school; I am now 5’9″ barefoot. The average “healthy weight” for that height runs anywhere from 135 pounds upwards to 165 or so. BUT, in the time since I reached that height, I have run the gamut from a sort of too-thin 128 pounds (middle of my sophomore year of college) to 170+ pounds (basically most of high school, hence why my nickname was “Wide Load”) to 196.4 pounds the very day I walked into the hospital to deliver Russ. As I’ve said in the Roonis section of this blog, I actually liked the heavier version of myself probably the most. 

But even at my lightest weight, I never resembled this chick. Really, I just resembled a smaller version of my natural body habitus. But I certainly didn’t look like this, which is fine with me. Could it be the lack of this girl’s good genes, excessive spray-tan, false eyelashes, “Are They or Aren’t They?” extensions, “Is It or Isn’t It Underwear Bikini,” or just general inadequacy on my part? Hint: I don’t think it’s the last one in that series. Now is this chick a bonafide hottie? Well yes, I would say most people would probably think so. She’s very pretty. I’m not sure if everything on her is – ahem – real, but I don’t really care. That’s her business.

But I still think it’s damaging to women to hold themselves up to this bar. To look at this image – which is more than likely retouched in some way – and compare themselves to it. The best fitness inspiration one can have is to simply try to be a healthier, more capable version of who they are.

And then there’s the aspect of simple biology. It isn’t healthy for a woman to have 8-10% body fat for the long term, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either selling you something or is too engulfed in their own disorder issue to know better.

It’s important for people to realize the rigorous process fitness and figure athletes go through to get their bodies to look like this. We’re talking months of intense training and dieting, weeks of carb cutting, days of removing all traces of sodium from their diet, a final 2-3 days stretch of decreasing their water intake, multiple coats of Jantana (for that subtle orange glow), a healthy coat of baby oil…I could go on and on, but there’s a lot that goes into coaxing one’s body into looking this way. On her normal days, even this girl in the picture doesn’t look like this girl in the picture. So again…perspective.

Now, this is one of the things that really bothered me – 

Yay, you have abs. Great. Congrats to you. What bothers me about this pic isn’t really the pic at all – it’s the words of the original pinner below it:

“You give meaning to my life. You’re my thinspiration…”

(And yes, I realize it’s a very un-clever play on lyrics from the worst band ever, Chicago. Ugh…Chicago.)
Now read that again. You give meaning to my life

We can’t do this. 
We can’t give our bodies more value than our souls. Than our minds. Our emotions. The body is important for a variety of duh-obvious reasons, but it’s simply not that important. 
Ever heard the Nine Inch Nails song “Hurt” (Also gloriously remade by the late, great Johnny Cash)?
You are an empire of dirt. So am I. For awhile, the dirt has a form, a function. And then we return to the dirt. Do not give this dirt too much credence.

The best thing you can do for your body is treat it like it’s the thing keeping you here while you need to be here. Try to eat healthy food when you can, but have a hamburger sometimes, for Pete’s sake. Life is just too short. I can almost guarantee you that you won’t be lying on your death bed and wishing you’d counted more calories or done more to get your “dream body.” Throw out the idea of the dream body. It’s stupid. You have a body. Thank God for it and do the best you can with what you’ve got.

So, about the Angel thing…

The first time I ever read Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” was during my senior year of high school, in the second half of a year-long Advanced Placement English course.

The second time I read the book was in my sophomore year of college, when the school I’d transferred to (Coastal Carolina University) didn’t see fit to give me credit for English 101 and 102 despite my high score on the AP English exam. My previous college, the somewhat more reputable College of Charleston had waived both classes based on my AP exam score of a 4 out of a possible 5 points. But I guess CCU wanted to play hard-to-get, so there I was, rereading the same book. Again.

The third time I read the book was at the beginning of my senior year of college, maybe just a week or two before I’d met my husband in another English course. Upon my third reading (okay…perhaps it was really just a “skimming”) of the text, I truly began to appreciate it. I still couldn’t stand Edna from the standpoint of breaking up her own family and just generally acting like a doofus. But at the same time, I knew that the prevailing attitudes during the time period in which the book was set were the kind that I couldn’t really relate to, and therefore, would be remiss to judge. But more than I couldn’t stand Edna, I really detested the character of Adele. Ugh…tedious. Floppy. Vacant. And because I couldn’t find relevance for myself in either extreme, I wasn’t sure where I identified with the text, if not a little bit on both sides.

And that was around the time I met the Anti-Angel.

My Southern Women Writers professor at the time, Dr. Jill Sessoms, was a ball-buster. She was the biggest, most certified bad-ass this side of Linda Hamilton, but with the kind of brains that could go toe-to-toe with some of the most intelligent and arrogant men I’ve ever come across in my life. She had kicked cancer’s butt once before, most likely in one of her many fabulous pairs of Converse sneakers – she had an expansive collection of them. And to add to her “allure,” Dr. Sessoms was hated – deeply, thoroughly detested – by almost every non-English-major who unsuspectingly happened into one of her courses. This really only cemented for me that she was a force to be reckoned with and that I had better straighten up and listen to what this woman had to say. I was perhaps more than a little terrified of her, as well. I don’t remember who my adviser was at the time, but I quickly switched to her, because I knew she’d be straight with me about which classes to take that final year.

In our discussions of several books, including “The Awakening,” Dr. Sessoms (or simply, “Sessoms,” as the English major brigade came to know her) kept the figure of the Angel in the House prominent in our coursework.

The Angel in the House is a poem by Coventry Patmore, a 19th century English poet, dealing with the then-timely concept of what amounted to a happy and fulfilling marriage (for the dude, anyway).

The Angel in the House

Man must be pleased; but him to please
Is woman’s pleasure; down the gulf
Of his condoled necessities
She casts her best, she flings herself.
How often flings for nought, and yokes
Her heart to an icicle or whim,
Whose each impatient word provokes
Another, not from her, but him;
While she, too gentle even to force
His penitence by kind replies,
Waits by, expecting his remorse,
With pardon in her pitying eyes;
And if he once, by shame oppress’d,
A comfortable word confers,
She leans and weeps against his breast,
And seems to think the sin was hers;
Or any eye to see her charms,
At any time, she’s still his wife,
Dearly devoted to his arms;
She loves with love that cannot tire;
And when, ah woe, she loves alone,
Through passionate duty love springs higher,
As grass grows taller round a stone.

(Somewhere, the one misogynist that stumbled across this blog just grunted.)

And that was when I got engaged – not engaged in the class (though I was that, too). Engaged to a guy. Dr. Sessoms knew Jonathan from other courses he’d had with her, and I think deep down she liked him and knew he was a good guy. But imagine: there I was, studying these incredible pieces, engaging thrice weekly in empowering discussion with other intelligent women, and saying to myself “Hell no, we won’t go!” And I went and got engaged. The nerve, right?

Dr. Sessoms gave me a little friendly ribbing, mostly in the form of bewildered head shaking at the idea that I was going to go and tie myself down at the tender age of 21. But I think we both knew between the two of us that it wasn’t that bad of a decision. Just a risky one. Even then, I knew the survival rate of a marriage tends to get lower and lower the younger you jump into it. I was as committed as I could have ever been to this man, but I knew what some people were going to think of my choice. And for reasons unknown to me then, I was 10 times more nervous about telling Dr. Sessoms that I was getting married than I was about breaking the news to my dad (who knew he really didn’t have a say anyway).

Imagine my surprise when shortly before my wedding, Dr. Sessoms later gifted me with a food processor to haul with me as I set off to start my new married life – my new Angel in the House existence – in front of the entire class. It was the next semester, in our Women in Literature course (Sessoms was bonafide “girl power”). Jonathan was one of the two males that took the plunge and signed up for the course (he needed one more elective). I later told Jonathan, shaken, “I’m not sure what to think of this.”

“Why? It’s just a food processor, Beck.”
“Yeah, but it’s like…it’s a symbolism, you know? Everything contains symbolism, that’s what Dr. Sessoms says to us when we read about these ‘wifely’ types,” I said.
“It’s a food processor.”
“No, it’s a symbol of subservience. Just like church steeples are phallic symbols and drowning yourself is release – didn’t you read ‘The Awakening?’ Geesh!!”
“Well yeah, but that was back in high school.”

That class was one I may never forget. Did we have any guys in there? I can’t remember and I feel terrible, because if we did then how remarkable, right? But I don’t remember the guys. I remember the girls, and how we were all coming from some different place in life, but bonded over these themes and ideas in the texts we were reading. It was sort of like the dichotomy seen in the movie “Mona Lisa Smile,” except if Julia Roberts’ character was 20-30 years older, and without the witchy Kirsten Dunst character.

Thanks to the advent of silly ridiculous platforms like Facebook (which I use way too much), I’m able to keep up with many of the girls from that class. We’ve been through the ringer. We run the gamut from blonde to purple (yes, purple) hair. From willowy-thin to pleasantly plump. From single to happily married to divorced. From straight to bi to gay. Through engagements, break-ups, weddings, pregnancies, miscarriages, births, we occasionally get the chance to say “Hey – I remember you. And I hope you’re okay.” Or some similar but less profound pleasantry.

And while we’re not all transformed into that “Angel,” I think I’ve become engulfed in the Angel idea these past few years. She floats back to me like a phantom when I’m doing laundry. She’s a perfume of cooking smells that wafts by when I shake out my apron. She beckons me to come write about her, write to her, dissect her the way we used to in class. Back when I felt like I was doing something of real intellectual value. Sessoms never said this to me outright, but I think she knew it would happen. We weren’t even really developing as readers, writers, understudies. It’s hard to take on the life of a wife and mother when you’re a writer and still keep that part of you sacred, reserved for yourself. The writer in me has suffered, and I’ve said this before, but I’ve lost a lot of my focus. Maybe even all of it. And I want that focus back.

Not to take one single thing away from the value of the life I’ve been blessed with. I’d give up pen and paper (err…keyboard and…finger?) entirely for my little boy. I love him that much – but I do love to write. It’s hard to write, to really get into a topic, when you’re trying to prevent a toddler from covering himself and your entire house in bits of graham cracker and other unidentifiable sludge (mostly boogers).

Over the past few months/years, I’ve started to feel that much more driven to try to rediscover whatever it is that once inspired me. Or whatever is supposed to inspire me now. And I think my interest is definitively centered on issues (political or otherwise) within the home and family, within the female psyche, and with regards especially to my spirituality and how that is developing.

This page started as a pregnancy blog, back when I had uterine tunnel vision and any topic other than babies and pregnancy couldn’t hold my focus (embarrassing but true). Then it transformed into an “everything” blog – entitled “A Compilation Piece” mostly because I was sleep deprived, and I had no clue what to call it, and that was my mom’s favorite poem that I wrote back in college. When I don’t have an inkling one way or another of what to do with something, I’ll almost always do what my mother likes. It wasn’t always that way, it’s just that around age 23 or so, I realized she’s actually right about some things.

And while I remain a crazy-quilt of different things, much like any woman you can find, I think this suits the direction of my life and all the chaos in my head. I’m the Angel in the House. Only a little bit crooked…a little bit odd.

Virginia Woolf once said that “killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer.” Well, I don’t think I make enough money on my writing to warrant literary matricide. And I don’t think I’m going to go that morbid of a route. I think I’m just going to study this Angel. These days of my life are brief, and all too soon, my children will all be born, grown, and doing this same thing. Figuring life out one load of laundry at a time. One broken plate at a time. With sore neck and aching shoulders.

Question by question.