Why Are We Here?

Why Are We Here?

Why Are We Here

Pondering Life’s Biggest Question at 2:45am

Why Are We Here?

There’s something about 2:45 in the morning that really makes you think.

Like, “Why am I awake? What was that noise? Why are we here?”

And, “But I only had one cup of coffee today and that was at o’early o’clock. Maybe it was the chili sauce at dinner. Or that really creepy doll on the episode of The X Files we just watched. Or because I can’t figure out why we’re here.”

And then the dog wanders out from your bedroom to find you on the couch and she just blinks, stares at you like, “You’re doing this wrong.” And you want to cry, “I know, dog. I know! I want to sleep in my own bed. I want to sleep anywhere. Why are we here?” And she curls up next to the couch for all of fifteen minutes before looking at you again and then meandering back the hallway to sleep in her spot at the foot of the bed; she’s no idiot. She knows how to sleep. She’s a dog; she knows why she’s here.

As the clock rounds past three, the memories start to pop up. Ones from college that you forgot to remember or really, considering all things, remembered to forget and you’re just paralyzed there on the couch, watching these stories play out on the ceiling, interrupted by the fan blade whirring by on high, giving the picture a flicker as if you’re watching black and white films from before your time. But this is your time, or was your time, and what time is it?

Why are we here?

Then the yawning starts. One, two, three. Okay, this could be it! Wander back to bed, snuggle deep down into the cool sheets, and wait. And wait. And wait. And get jealous of your sleeping husband, his deep breathing full of sleep and dreams, full of the smell of him and everything you love and drift just a little to the left.


And then jerk back awake because falling asleep feels like falling off a cliff when you forget how to fall asleep.

Awake, awake, awake.

Read the news, read Facebook, stare at a screen. All incredibly bad choices, because why is she posting that and why did that man do that and oh, those children, and look a puppy, and maybe I should buy that or this or no, no, no, and oh, here we are falling down the depths of a humanity hole. Let’s cry over the sadness in the world and how, even though we want to and try to and wish pray hope, we can’t make everyone safe all of the time. Too much sadness, too much heartbreak, too much injustice. And back to, WHY ARE WE HERE?

Now—oh yes—now comes the good stuff. Let’s walk through the horrible, awful, no good, very bad things that could happen to those we love, those that make our world go round, those for whom we wake up for or not sleep for, as it were, those we cannot go a single day without feeling overwhelmed with love and thankfulness, those who stir in us some fear or memory of fear, and even those who we can’t quite figure out why we love, but oh, do we love. Let us imagine them falling down stairs. Crashing in planes. Drowning in pools and oceans and lakes and bathtubs and puddles of tears falling from the sky. Let’s watch it over and over and over until it’s clear that there’s absolutely no reason for you to really be here, because you can’t even save your child from drowning in one inch of water. You don’t deserve to be here.

And so you make plans for the new day, the one you’ve already pondered through for hours. You start bargaining with the sunrise. “If I’m still awake when the first light comes, I’ll just get out of bed, start a load of laundry, and go for a run. Or maybe I’ll bake something. Yeah, I have all that zucchini to make eleven loaves of bread and yummy muffins and, oh hey, I’m hungry.” The stomach churns at this hour, full of exhaustion and questions and desperation and stomach acid; you can’t decide if you’re hungry or about to vomit.

And here’s the alarm. You open your eyes, trying to remember the last time you saw on the clock. 4:40? 4:14? Were there even any fours? Did you sleep soundly for two and a half hours or do you simply not remember being awake, tossing and turning and flipping and flopping and giving up?

Hazy head and leaden feet, you pad down the hall. You take the dog outside into the crisp morning; she’s still eyeing you suspiciously like you slept with another dog when you were really just staring at the ceiling on the couch. You make coffee and gag a little at the smell. You turn around and there’s your son and you’re filled with everything as the sun shines off his still golden summer shoulders.

“Good morning, Mommy. Did you sleep well?”

This is why I’m here.


52 Weeks of Brotherhood: When It’s Hard to Be a Brother (or a Parent)

When It's Hard to Be a Brother

When It's Hard to Be a Brother
Sometimes they even fight over the dog, you guys.

I’ve written my internal angst regarding the end of summer break.

It’s true: I like having unfettered access to my kids. The rub, however, is that these two boys get tired of constant access to one another as the summer stretches its way through the calendar. To boot, they took turns the entire summer sleeping in each others’ rooms. One night BigBrother’s, the next night LittleBrother’s, and repeat.

You know, save for traveling when they’d share a bed or, at times, a room.

To say each brother felt tired with the other brother classifies as a severe understatement.

Sometimes they acted downright resentful about the presence of their brother. The arguments seemed so plentiful, if they were tomatoes in my garden, I could have made enough sauce to last us two summers of tomatoes. About everything. About nothing. About anything.

Even if one brother felt his words or actions were of the helpful kind, the other brother was already on the defensive, unable to receive anything, let alone kindness.

They were in bad shape.

And us, as the parents? Well, we wore out. We hit a level of exhaustion that can only be defined as Out of Mmmphs to Give. Straight outta Mmmphs. Or, you know, whatever other word you wanna insert there, because all of ’em.

After my husband laid down the law in a not-quite-yell but louder-than-daddy-usually-talks over dinner two nights before school started, they both came to me later with sad little faces. Morose even. Because Daddy doesn’t yell, even less than Mommy. So they knew the jig was up.

I went on to explain that Daddy needed to say what he said because, glory be, sons, we’re tired. Exhausted. I used all those words, even glory be, which probably confused them, but I didn’t want to say what I was thinking in that moment of calm explanation. Their sad eyes got a bit bigger, a bit sadder. I didn’t berate either of them, didn’t point fingers, but they don’t like to upset us. Yet. I mean, they’re not teenagers. Yet.


And so yesterday rolled around, and the back-to-school morning went splendidly, and I did the stupid thing and wrote about how splendidly it went.

So then this morning, as we attempted to get out the door at the required time and the boys started to argue because one brother dared to help the other brother with a knot in his shoe, I straight up lost it. I yelled. You think there were sad eyes the other day when Daddy simply stated that this nonsense needed to stop, here and now, immediately? Pfft.

There’s a reason I try not to yell. And it’s because I can yell.

The arguing ceased. Sniffles commenced. And I felt like a jagoff. A jagoff who wasn’t yet caffeinated on the second day of school because the FLIPPIN’ COFFEE POT WOULDN’T MAKE ANY FLIPPIN’ COFFEE.


So I took four deep breaths before I poured myself into the driver’s seat of the car and began apologizing before I even backed out of the garage. BigBrother took it personally, mainly because LittleBrother did what he’s now prone to do and kind of blamed everything on his older brother. Because naturally. And again, I explained how tired we feel that they can’t stop fighting.

And instead of apologizing to me?

They apologized to each other. And then made plans for what they were going to do after school.

So then I felt like a bigger jagoff.

They happily talked the rest of the way to school, and I can report, with over an hour home since school, they haven’t argued once despite wanting to play with the same toy. They’re taking turns with a friend over. Well huh.

I need to remember that siblings will fight, summer break will end, and this phase, whatever it is, will pass. Until then, I’ll just be over here, taking four deep breaths, over and over again, because I’m probably supposed to model the behavior I want my children to display.

I don’t know which is harder: Parenting or brotherhood. Oh wait. Yes, I do.

It’s the First Day of School. Again.

First Day of School

First Day of School

Apparently it’s the first day of school.

I know this because I set my alarm for 6:30 just so I could get up, make the coffee, and get a few things done before the boys rolled out of bed. When it went off, I had absolutely no idea what was going on, where I was, or why on Earth I needed to wake up.

Transitions are tough.

I eventually forced myself out of bed, took the dog out (who looked at me like, “Lady, it’s too early for this nonsense”), and started the coffee, thus starting the whole school year morning routine back into motion. I even remembered to make lunches and put them in lunchboxes. I also remembered to put on a bra. Gold star day.

Once the boys got up, one with a Darth Vader-esque, “Nooooooo-ooooooo,” the morning continued smoothly, which is just a set-up for future morning failure. “Oh, things went so easily on the first morning of school. It’s going to be a great year.” Sure. Check back with me next Monday or some idle Tuesday in September. Or October. And don’t bother checking in by March; no one will want to do anything by that point.


First Day of School

We met the boys’ teachers last night, and I feel cautiously optimistic. The cautiously isn’t on behalf of their teachers; they seem absolutely amazing and, once again, wonderfully appropriate for each boy. The cautiously is on behalf of the difficult time we experienced last year in so many ways. Most of my apprehension comes from the social interactions the boys will experience and endure. I can’t swoop in and make things easier for either of them, and they struggle in their own ways with friends, not-quite-friends, and the ins-and-outs of today’s playground life. I’m feeling very anxious this morning sending them off once again to figure these things out for themselves.

I spoke with the boys regarding some goals they have for the year. One wants to achieve four nine weeks of Principal’s List again. The other wants to learn multiplication (even though they won’t teach him any this year). LittleBrother seemed very pleased the his teacher, who taught third grade last year, kept all of her chapter books in her classroom; he definitely saw a few he was interested in reading. BigBrother seemed excited to have a number of friends in his class.

I like the clean slate of a new school year. I like the first day photo rituals and liking all of the photos you post. I like how excited the boys remain for school to start each year; I’m sure that will change in time. I don’t like the silence of my house right now, but I remedied that earlier with some loud music.

In a few hours, we’ll pick them up and ask them about their first days of second and fourth grade. They’ll talk our ears off on the way home and we’ll miss the silence, thus fully pulling us back into the school year routine.

First Day of School
(PS: This is getting framed.)

Here’s to a good one.