Monday, June 28, 2010

I Want to Grow Old With You

I realized today that I haven't yet written a whole lot about my amazing family and how blessed I am just to have been born into it. A good place to start would be with my sister.

With only 22 months between us, my big sis and I have shared so much. It's hard to even begin the story of us, to do it any justice at all. I suppose I should regale you with stories, memories or inside jokes. We've gotten ourselves into so many binds, and, God knows, we have had some fun!

When we were about 7 and 9, we filled some of those big pong-pong balloons with water and tried to carry them up the stairs to our dormer bedroom. Both of them burst on new carpet, and we had the grand idea of sucking up all the water with our mom's Electrolux. In high school, we dressed as Elvira and a farmer for a costume party and were the talk of the night when we arrived as the only revelers in costume. I once wrote a note berating her for not letting me tag along with her and her boyfriend to dance at Davlin Lake that made her cry so hard and so dramatically that it woke my parents in the middle of the night, but left me fast asleep in my bed.

While on our way to JJ's Pizza to "hang out" after a high school basketball game, my sister took a right turn too sharply and tore off the side of my parents' sedan. We can still laugh until we cry when we think of me walking down the sidewalk that night, my long hair free under a "doo-rag," to look for the side runner we'd lost in the mishap. Some random guy on the basketball court yelled, "Hey buddy! You a guy or a girl?...... Your piece is in the yard!"

We then made it through college together, suffered without each other while working in different cities in our early careers and grew closer than I ever thought possible. Our similarities were most evident after we both married redheads a mere ten weeks apart, bought houses five lots apart on the main street of our hometown, bought nearly identical dark green Honda vans and then proceeded to have three sets of children: my daughter born four months before hers, then her son born four months before mine and finally--a twist!--her second daughter born four months before my second son.

Having her as a fellow mother warrior has been unbelievable. Our kids are incredibly close. Kim and I are known for throwing theme parties for them at the drop of a hat, for swapping kids in identical vans to keep them happy, for marathon shopping trips that we've considered successful only because we've sprung ourselves and our six kids out of our houses.

We've often had fits of giggles, many times uncontrollably and inappropriately. We've fought, but not much. We've been there for every birth, every major milestone. We choose to hang out together because we're friends by choice. My sister is beautiful, kind, funny and, inherently, good. I knew I couldn't do her justice. And I haven't.

But my sister is one of my reasons. She is a blessing a million times over. I couldn't have picked a better sister had I tried. I'm not letting go of her. Ever.

You're stuck with me, sis, and there will be no end. I want to grow old with you.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Home Tweet Home

Hi sugarpies. I'm feeling a little sour tonight (hormones from hell), so I'm going completely off me to a better subject: LAKE TWEET!

Let me tell you a story.

Lake Tweet is a man-made lake--some might call it a pond, but I won't--in Ohio's beautiful Washington County. It's on land that once belonged to my grandfather and many of his descendants before him. It's now owned by my youngest uncle, who is a mere five years my senior. Thank you, uncle, for letting us play so long and so loud at your lake!

The lake was dug in 1966--again, disputed, but I'm sticking to 1966--by my grandpa and his brothers. Notably, his brother Francis, who was called Tweet. Shortly after the lake was completed, Tweet died. In tribute, it became Lake Tweet.

I honestly can't guess at how many nights I've spent at this sacred place. I've laid on my back on the dock and watched falling stars. I've floated many an afternoon away with good friends and good family. I've hiked, played volleyball, had deep discussions and tender moments around a million campfires. I've even rolled in the pine needles a few times, if you must know.

Lake Tweet has become a very special place for many people. My own children now run the land like it's Disney World nearly every weekend. We adults sit around and celebrate life at all hours. It is more than just a place; it's a feeling, a mood and a salve. It cures what ails me.

It's also the place where I feel closest to Bernard, my grandpa, who, for the first 20 years of my life, was the man of my life. Detailing my relationship with him and the impact he had on my life is way beyond the scope of this post.

But I see you, Bernard, and celebrate your legacy. Every weekend at Lake Tweet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Drinking from the Saucer

I have been thinking, a little under pressure, about what to write about tonight. On my way home from my first day of work in ten days, I was thinking of the quote, "I'm drinking from the saucer, because my cup is overflowing."

This was just before I picked up three hungry kids (one irate) from the sitter, drove the last leg listening to a temper tantrum, realized the ankle I twisted in volleyball resembled a ten-month-pregnant woman's cankle, was reminded of the vicious headache I had been sporting all day AND got snapped at by a grumpy husband after I finally made it home.

Whew! I was ready to throw the cup and saucer against the wall.

Alas, I have to give myself some credit here. One of my secrets to making my crazy, tragic, sometimes almost magic, awful, beautiful life work is that I don't stay mad long. I'm resilient as hell. I'm a force to be reckoned with, even when I'm mentally crouched in a corner after a day like today.

So, tonight, it's true. I'm looking past the trees to the forest. I'm drinking from the saucer because my cup is overflowing.

p.s. Our staycation was lovely.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Stay... Just a Little Bit Longer....

Well, the Roberts family is officially on "staycation." We've been at the lake all weekend and are home for a quick laundry and shower session. We've got lots to do. Most of all, we plan to do nothing. To just relax and soak up summer and each other. I'll be thinking on future posts, writing in the old-fashioned-but-never-out-of-fashion journal, and loving my family.

Ciao for now!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Keep Calm and Carry On

So I mentioned I'd had a rough month in May. I can't really tell you why; it was just one of those times in my life where there was a lot going on, the blues kept sucking me down, and I couldn't find the time to take care of myself, to be gentle with myself ... to even be by myself very much at all.

One day, as I was walking down Court Street in Athens on my lunch break, I saw this poster hanging in a store window. I'd seen this poster in a picture on one of my favorite blogs, With funds low but my interest piqued, I marched into the place and bought one of these beauties. It now dances around the various walls of my office. I can't seem to figure out where it belongs, but it does belong.

(The history of this poster is as striking as its simple design. It was produced, but never used, in 1939 by the British government at the start of World War II as a "last resort" in the event of a Nazi invasion.)

My wise junior high English teacher, Mrs. Gretchen Montgomery, once told my parents in a parent-teacher conference, "Erin sometimes gets a black cloud over her head, but we know if we leave her alone, she pulls out of it."

It's true. I've always been a bit arrogant in the way I believe that no one can help me but myself. I'm independent and headstrong to a fault. I take care of people, and I don't let them take care of me--even when I am in need of care. One of the many drawbacks of this is that people around me get used to this and quit trying.

But what I'm getting at is this: I was in more than a bit of a funk. And now, I'm out. The poster helped me, I helped myself, and, this time, I let some of you help me too.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Shrek Forever

While some of you might think this post is about the new box office hit I plan to see with my family next week during our "stay-cation," you're wrong.

My husband, who is like an onion with many layers, has fondly been nicknamed "Shrek" by his friends. As Fiona, if you'll allow me, I can tell you it fits much of the time. According to Wikipedia, the DreamWorks character is "a big, strong, solitude-loving, intimidating ogre." He's also got a heart of gold under all that muck and bravado.

Hence, my husband. My Shrek is six years my senior. He and I have been together for nearly 13 years and married for nearly eight years. I don't remember ever being giddy in love; we've just always had a rock-solid base of love from which all things have been endured. We've had ups, we've had downs. We're a perfect, imperfect work in progress.

I feel sorry for the people who don't recognize and embrace that marriage is a constant stream that ebbs and flows. The ebbs are inevitable. They peel back the faces we present to the world, sometimes open us raw and make us fight like hell to make our marriages survive, but, with conviction, marriages can and do survive. And thrive.

After all this time, I'm honestly not bored with him at all. I'm riveted by the man I have loved for so long. It's a joy to watch him to continue to grow and change as our lives become fuller, more blessed and more amazing with the addition of each child, through the relationships we have with our friends and family, and in the face of ever-unfolding tribulations and successes--the thickening of the fabric of our lives.

And we're getting better all the time.

I love you, baby.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The World Belongs to Mothers

The baby-with-the-fussy-cries,-the-possible-ear-infection-or-maybe-it's-just-teeth-or-maybe-it's-a-virus? on his birthday. Isn't he a doll?

It's a very rare thing, but Mommy is going off the clock for a bit this weekend. I'm headed to a hotel with a good girlfriend for a scrapbooking, eating, shopping extravaganza! Yeah me! She's an amazing friend and mother of two, and we both need a break.

I often say it, and I really believe it: The world belongs to mothers. Good mothers are a loving, influential, resilient tribe. We're up six times a night, fine after that first cup of coffee and off to conquer the world. We're often the last one to bed and the first one up. We're the keeper of the Social Security numbers, the correct medicinal doses, the shoes sizes and the ever-growing files of our children's likes and dislikes. We're the cooks, the maids, the nurses, the chauffeurs, the seasonal clothes switchers: the choreographers of our childrens' lives.

But the heart swells never stop. Just now, at 7:32 a.m., after being awake since about 5:45 a.m. after a fitful night with the baby, I see my Maxwell headed down those oak stairs. And my heart takes flight. That kid is so cute!!!! And he's mine. And now, "Mommy, I'm hungry.... Mommy, I'm hungry..."

My heart sometimes feels two sizes too big.

Now, dear readers, sometimes under this mountain of responsibility that we call motherhood festers resentment. But it's a fixable thing. It's necessary for me to take my moments, to write in my journal, to read a magazine or paint my toenails. It's necessary for me to say, "So long, baby-with-the-fussy-cries,-the-possible-ear-infection-or-maybe-it's-just-teeth-or-maybe-it's-a-virus?, I've got to go for 36 hours and find my self."

Everyone will be fine, and I'll be back.

Oh, I'll be back.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

You Are Worth It All

Though my identity as a writer is important, I think I might have misled you yesterday. In reality, I am more of a mother who writes. While I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, I always knew I'd be a mother.

I became a mother at 25. Our firstborn is a girl named Lilith. She is amazingly beautiful, intelligent and tall. I can honestly say that she is probably the one person in my life who has taught me the most about how to truly be selfless. In that, I mean, I had to lose myself--and still do sometimes--to learn to take care of another human being so completely.

Our second is a loving, incredible little boy named Maxwell. Max is a lot like Mommy. He's joy and truth and BOY. He's all boy, but a loving, sweet little thing. I'm convinced he's going to be a wonderful man--the kind every woman wants to marry and every man wants to befriend.

Our baby, who just turned one, is Colby. Colby has a headful of fiery red curls to match the sunshine he brings into our lives everyday. He is an incredibly cute, ornery, gap-toothed reminder that, yes, it is all about the people who matter to us the most.

While the last six or seven years have been a lot of work, I wouldn't trade them for the world. Motherhood is a full-time job. Somewhere in the endless household tasks, the stirring of the day's fifth sippy cup of chocolate milk, the breeding laundry piles, cries for Band-Aids, the marathon nursing sessions and the guilt, I've found myself.

When I look at my reasons/my children, I thank God for the kind human beings I know they will become.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Twenty Years Ago Today

Twenty years ago today, a day after my 12th birthday, I started what I consider to be a "serious journal." As a kid, I had several One-Year Diaries, and, even at the ripe old age of eleven, didn't like being put in a box. I hated the feeling of missing days and feeling as though I'd somehow disappointed somebody, somewhere.

So the plan was to buy a simple notebook and begin my "serious journal" on my 12th birthday. Something happened and I didn't get that notebook in time. Hence, it was June 2, 1990, that my true writing career began. Sixty-six and a half novellas later, I can tell you--and anyone else, for that matter--that it was perhaps the best decision I've ever made and the one thing that has most defined who I am to the world and who I am to myself.

I'm a writer.

I'm also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend, hopefully in that order. I am many things, as are all of us modern mothers, trying to make it all work on so many levels. I work part-time at a pretty important job. I dream of building a home on the family land on which I grew up. I'd like to be published, to write a novel or an autobiography. And it feels like it's time.

So, today, without much planning and much thought, I'm launching a blog. I'm not at 100% mentally right now. I've had a tough month. I've got three kids each under the weather in his or her own way. There's a raging thunderstorm outside my windows. I'm tired.

But, tonight, I celebrate me. I celebrate the time and space I've carved out for me to be a journalist. I celebrate the fact that I've had an amazing and interesting life and that the majority of it is down on paper, in longhand, in my own words. I celebrate both the miracle and the scariness of that written history.

And, as I search my soul for what I might end up doing with that written history, I invite you to read along. I've got about a million stories to tell, so I figure as long as I want to write this blog, I'll have the content. I'm not sure who my audience is, what my intent is or even whether or not this blog will exist in a month, but, for now, I feel like writing if you feel like reading.

These are my reasons.


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