Author Archives: Bridget

seven of them.

Seven of them were 14.
One year and one state away from my baby.
I can’t take it.

In the atmosphere of our current situation,
I feel as if I’m always on high alert.
And before one thing can be behind me,
Another thing crashes into reality.
I’m angry,
But I’m tired.

I can’t listen to the debates anymore.
I can’t stand to have one more platitude thrown in my face.
I try to be open, honest, and willing to hear the other side,
But dammit, y’all.
Enough is enough.
I’m angry!
Really Angry.
But I’m tired.

We drag mental illness out like a limp, dying horse
And we beat him until he is no more.
I don’t know this kid.
Maybe he is mentally ill,
But maybe he just angry and broken.
Maybe we – the collective we – broke him over and over again
Until he was beyond repair.
Maybe if he’d had a little more love…
Maybe if he’d had one solid person to be there for him no matter what…
Maybe if he’d had someone to simply say, “You are more than your circumstances.”

Or maybe I’m just making things up to make myself feel better,
To make myself feel like I can say those things and be that person for someone else.
Maybe I’m making this about me when it’s about so much more.

And maybe in trying to help, we’ve lost sight of what matters most.
Maybe all our plans and policies reduced him to sub-human standards.
Maybe we stripped his humanity away one layer at a time
Until it was no more.

Or maybe I’m just projecting my reality into his.
I see it every day.
That one child who bites and kicks and screams.
The one who looks you in the face and tells you that he hates you.
The one who mirrors at school his terrifying truth, his reality.
The one who doesn’t know how to love because he doesn’t know what love is.
I am angry.
And I am tired.
But I must go on.

You can’t save the whole world, they tell me.
And I know that it is true.
But maybe…maybe I can help one.
I may not be able to change what will be,
But I can sure as hell try.
So I have to keep going.
You have to keep going.
We have to do this thing together…
Whether we like it or not.

I’m angry.
And I’m tired.
But I’m willing to try.
Are you?

always and forever

She wanted to go shopping.
For clothes.
A change from using her money to buy crafts and games.
A change at the beginning of many changes.
A change from little girl to young woman.
And I’m ready for it, really.
And yet not.

As we are homeward bound, one song ends, and another quietly begins.
From the driver’s seat, I see her watching me,
Really studying me.
And I hold my breath so as not to break the moment.
Don’t look.Don’t look.Don’t look.

“Thanks for taking me, Mommy,” she whispers.
And I take the chance to look at her eyes and I see myself,
My melancholic, nostalgic, sentimental self.
And I can tell that she’s drinking it all in –
Just as I have done with her a million times.
Mental pictures filed away,
Ready to be pulled out on a rainy day.

We needed this,
She and I.
Laughing together
Without distraction.
Talking about school and friends
And thoughts and dreams.
So many things that get lost in the shuffle.
(There’s always shuffling with a family of six).

And then our song begins to play.
{Go listen to it.
No, really. Go}

And though I may will let her down sometimes,
I hope she always knows that I have her back.
That I’m always here,
Waiting and ready,
When she needs someone to believe in,
And is reaching for a hand to guide her home.

Always and forever, my sweet girl.
Always and forever.


I don’t care so much…

There was a “Stand Against Hate” rally in my town tonight. I had every intention of going, but this damn cold has knocked my feet out from under me and after a full day of work I was worn out. I crawled in bed to read for a few minutes before dinner, and a little person came and snuggled up next to me. The next thing I know I’m blinking awake with bleary eyes and feeling the ins and outs of her breath on my back. 7:03. I could have hopped up, thrown on some clothes, and rushed to the rally. Instead I sat there, just staring at this beautiful, innocent little face.

I wonder so, so often if I’m doing it right, this whole parenting thing. This whole life thing, really. Am I showing my children how to be brave and speak up against injustice? Oh, I tell them, for sure, but what is it they see in me, from me? Is it enough to talk to them about racism and sexism and other inequalities that abound in our world? Is it enough to not hide the news from them, to not shelter them from the hate, to let them see the sadness and the anger and the hurt that even my grown heart sometimes can’t handle? Is it enough to look at the news and denounce the ugly that they see? Is it enough to share the stories that have been shared with me from my friends who are people of color, and to talk with them about how and why things could and should be different?

I wanted to go. I wanted to take them, to show them activism in action. I wanted to show them that it’s not okay to crawl in bed and cover up your head, which I ended up literally doing. I wanted them to know that supporting the good things and condemning the bad is about more than just words. I wanted to show them that there are no excuses to not stand up for what is good, what is right. And yet…here I am in bed.

I haven’t written here in so long. What has driven me to write now? Maybe I’m writing out of guilt, trying to convince myself that it’s okay we didn’t go. Maybe I’m writing to fill the void that’s left by my inaction. But I like to think that I’m writing because I’ve remembered that words are powerful, that words can change the world. And yet…and yet I can’t help but wonder if maybe I’m being a bit selfish, and I’m writing instead of rallying because this, this moment with her beautiful little eyelashes resting gently on her still-baby little cheeks, seems like the most important thing in the world in this moment.                                                                         

Tonight I’ll sit and wonder if I’m doing this right – this parenting thing, this living thing? This being a grown-up stuff is kinda tricky sometimes. Head and heart (and health) sometimes clash. And the parenting gig? Whew! I never knew quite how hard it would be. But I hope and pray that my tiny(ish) humans will one day look back and know that I tried – with both words and actions – to teach them how to love each other and to share that love with the world. I hope they’ll remember the words they so often hear me say: “I don’t care so much about what you become, but who you become. I don’t care so much if you are the best or the smartest or the fastest, but if you are the kindest and you show love to others and always help when you can.”

when i came to kiss you goodnight

When i came to kiss you goodnight,
you were sleeping.

Eyes jumping around behind their curtain,
like children bouncing on the bed when no one’s looking.

Face still soft and round,
even in your dreams you are smiling.

Breaths in {pause} and {pause} out {pause}
long and sinewy as your legs.

In the light of day you struggle to find out who you are,
but in the dimness of dark,
your Self is there, waiting for you.

One day you will find Self
and you will settle in
and know that you are home.

But in the mean time, enjoy the journey…
and know that
in life
in your dreams
I will always come to kiss you goodnight.


Conscientious Objection

So when Trump first announced his candidacy, my initial thought was “WTH? Are you serious?” and after that passed, it went immediately to, “Okay, so what’s really going on?” I genuinely wondered if maybe Hillary’s campaign was paying him off to take the focus off the other Republican candidates, some of which made more sense than others. My logic was that their logic might be that if the Democrats could get people to focus on Trump and not the (more viable, in my opinion) candidates, then they would have more of a chance to win. Convoluted? Yes. Out of the realm of possibility? Absolutely not.

So we puttered along, with Trump continuing to say more and more outlandish things. Was he trying to see how far he could push it? To see what he could say and still get away with it? I think the likelihood of that is more probable than him being serious about some of the shocking things he said. (Am I providing evidence of these things of which I speak? No. But the statements are out there to find if you need them). But as time went on, I think he began to like the attention. He began to think, “Ya know, this ain’t so bad. I could actually do this.” And then the real campaigning began.

So now here we sit with Trump as the probable GOP candidate, but with many other Republicans considering the idea of “conscientious objection” (which makes me think of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martins’ “conscious uncoupling” every time I hear it), and my skepticism of the system rears its head again. Is it possible – even remotely possible – that this has all been a game? All a little dance for the people? A distraction from things that both parties want the public to not see? Could it be that someone within the GOP has been playing it the whole time? Someone’s crazy idea that maybe this could work, and a new candidate could step into the arena when least expected? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe these ideas are just ridiculous. Maybe it’s just another one of those crazy ideas that my brain comes up with. That happens a lot. But. But what if it isn’t? What if there’s more fact than fantasy to my cockeyed idea?

I’m under no illusions that any current candidate or party isn’t self-serving or self-preserving. I am not blind to the fact that our government is really all a big cluster with little chance of anything productive happening any time soon. I believe that the candidates are run by their party which is run by its donors which are (often) only concerned with what is best for them and/or their business.

Is Trump the answer? Is Hillary? Probably not. What is the answer? I don’t know. But I do know that it’s not just about the president. It’s not just about our representatives. It’s not just about which party or person you vote for. It’s not just about the things that you see on the news. (Heavens to Betsy! That’s a whole other can of worms.) It’s about seeking answers and making informed decisions with the information you have. Not just the information that’s presented to you. Not just the stuff that you see on the news or hear from other people or see in a meme on Facebook. The answers can be more easily discovered through respectful discussion amongst people with varying views. The answers are in helping others get the services they need in order for them to also make informed decisions. The answers are in people like you and like me working together to make the world a better place. Wait. I just went all utopian on ya. 😉 But seriously, the answers are going to take less division and more unity, less arguing and more discussion, less bitterness and more compassion. From everyone. I didn’t mean for this to turn into a patriotic pep talk, but this is how my mind wanders. I still think the system is broken and that the public is being used as pawns in a very dangerous game, and I still think that – in many ways – we’re screwed no matter what happens. But I also still think that the answers are out there and us throwing up our hands in disgust and giving up isn’t the way that we’re going to see things change. This is our country. This is your country. Let your voice be heard. That is what the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and Bill of Rights with all those Amendments are talking about. Be a conscientious objector. Call your representatives. Get out and vote. Speak up, but play nice.

oh, my loves…

I thought I was going to throw up.
I’m still shaking.

I pulled them in close around me,
all except the biggest one.
He wanted to sit where he could see me.

They knew something was wrong.

Sometimes really sad things happen, I said.
And I have something really sad to tell you.
And you will have big feelings when I tell you,
And it’s okay to feel those feelings, whatever they may be.

Oh, my loves…
I wish I could spare you from this moment.
I wish I could wrap you in my arms and hide you
from pain and tears and heartbreak.

As the words slipped from my lips,
one cried,
one wept,
and one held back tears.

She asked questions.
He sat, stunned.

She sobbed and sobbed until she choked on her tears.
Big, fat tears cascaded down his cheeks.

Oh, my loves…
I wish I could give you answers.
I wish I could know what to say to make it better,
to take away the sting of death.

But it is here.
And it is real.
And we will all feel things.
And I want you to know, my loves,
that your feelings will go in and out like the ocean,
and they will catch you when you least expect it,
and sometimes they will squeeze you so hard that you can’t breathe.

But always, always know that your feelings are your feelings
And you are free to feel them.

And if you cry,
it’s okay.
And if you sit quietly,
it’s okay.
If you want to scream,
it’s okay.

But if you want to laugh, that’s okay, too.
Or if you want to smile, that’s okay.
Or if you want to sing, oh my little loves…

Music says words that we don’t know how to say.

And I truly believe she’ll hear your song.


All About Mommy

Remember when your kids were little and somewhere around Mother’s Day they’d fill out a little questionnaire about you and the teacher would write it up and you’d save it because it was just so darn adorable? Well, we haven’t done that in a long time so when I saw these 14 questions floating around on Facebook, I decided to ask all of my children individually. None of them heard the others’ answers.


T, age 11  •  E, age 9  •  L, age 7   •  LJ, age 5


1. What is something I always say to you?

T – I love you!
E – I love you!
L – I love you!
LJ – That you love me


2. What makes me happy?

T – When I make a meal
E – Daddy and us and my class, even though sometimes they make you mad
L – Hugs and kisses
LJ – Sharing love and sharing toys with other people (even people you didn’t know for a long time) and cleaning the house and brooming the house


3. What makes me sad?

T – When the house is dirty
E – Maggie being gone
L – That’s really hard
LJ – When we are sick


4. How do I make you laugh?

T – With jokes
E – Tickle me
L – Tickle
LJ – Doing funny things like telling jokes


5. What was I like when I was your age?

T – (big eyes) Umm…creative
E – Funny
L – Hmmm…happy?
LJ – Your mother was my Gramama. You didn’t have as many freckles


6. How old am I?

T – 36
E – 36
L – 33
LJ – 25

7. How tall am I?

T – 5’3″
E – How far can you stand in the pool? 5 feet?
L – 12 feet
LJ – 12 inches


8. What is my favorite thing to do?

T – Play games with us
E – Read
L – Help people
LJ – Stay with us


9. What do I do when you’re not around?

T – Watch shows that we’re not allowed to see
E – Read and sleep
L – Watch TV
LJ – Love on daddy and eat snacks while daddy plays his iPad


10. What am I really good at?

T – Subbing. No! I want to change my answer! Can I change my answer? Farting.
E – Teaching
L – Taking pictures
LJ – Driving


11. What is something I’m not good at?

T – Wanting to get in the lake
E – (nervous laughter) That’s too hard.
L – Doing laundry
LJ – I don’t know what to say


12. What do I do for a job?

T – Sub
E – Substitute
L – I don’t know
LJ – School subbing


13. What is my favorite food?

T – Spaghetti
E – Not fish. Not seafood. Um…chicken
L – Pizza
LJ – Rice, grits, and mashed potatoes


14. What do you enjoy doing with me?

T – Play games
E – Cuddle
L – Play
LJ – Have a meeting with snacks and go to store

everything and nothing

There are days when everything and nothing is just wrong
in an Alexander kind of way.
And the little things feel like big things
and the big things feel like giant things.
And all those things seem to weigh too much
and be too bulky
and too awkward
And it leaves you struggling along,
just trying to do your thing.

And you just can’t.

The depths of the day settle in
and pull you under.
And a blanket of quiet ache drapes over you,
and there’s nothing to do but wait for the clock to keep ticking
until you’ve reached a new day.
Every morning brings new mercies, right?


p.s. Adulting is hard.
p.p.s. The puppy is great and wonderful and perfect for us, but I really miss my dog.
p.p.p.s. I’m fine. I really am. Just some days seem heavier than others.

a life well lived and well loved








soul searching.

We’re more like animals than we like to believe.
Feelings we can’t quite explain,
Urges that unsettle our soul.

Thousands of years of separate us from our nomadic ancestors,
And while there have been so many changes,
There have also been so few.


Maybe I knew.
Looking back, maybe I did.
She seemed fine.
And yet, maybe not.

She went out and did what she needed to do.
And then she came in
and stood by the door,
just looking out.


A sound just barely perceptible,
It didn’t catch me in the moment.
A sound so natural
That is slipped past me
As so many things do in this whirlwind life of mine.

But I let her out again.
She looked, sniffed, and came back in.

How many times did she do that?
How did I not notice a pattern?
Or am I imagining it all?


I took her collar off.
I don’t even remember why.
She always wore her collar.
It bugs me that I can’t remember what made me take it off.
If she still had it on, would we have found her?


He’s the one who let her out.
He feels awful about it,
But I know – and he does, too – that it wasn’t his fault.


It could have as easily been me.
Or the children.
And, in all honesty and quite selfishly, I’m glad that it was him.
It would have broken my heart if I’d been the one who let her go without a glance.
And the children (especially one dear child of mine) may well have held that guilt for years to come.

But it’s not his fault.
He turned and she slipped away.
I don’t know that it was planned,
But something within her soul said go,
And she went.

From dust we have come and dust we will return.


Rest well, my Maggie Girl.