Bueller? Bueller? – An about me post

It’s been a while – and no, I’m not trying to sound like a Staind song….

 

I realized this morning that I have added quite a few followers since the last time I did a post like this. And seeing as how one of my favorite people has reentered the blogging world, *waves frantically at Jess*, it has inspired me to press refresh over here.

My name is Ashley! I’m so glad you have found me over here in my little corner of the web.

momfilesashley-37-ZF-5817-59877-1-001-036

1.) I have been blogging for over a decade. I am a member of the generation that bridges between Gen-X and millennials. I’m old enough to remember hardly ever using, or needing for that matter, the internet, but young enough to have adapted to a wireless world. I started writing book reports in school using the card catalog in the school library (I miss the smell of those), but by the time I was in college I was searching the internet for subject matter, and also Homestar Runner. I’m not sure how many followers I accumulated over on Live Journal, but eventually I put down the proverbial pen for a good long while. I picked blogging back up again when my second child was born and I began my new journey of stay-at-home-parentage. Seven years later, I’m still here!

2.) I enjoy photography quite a bit. It’s something I’m trying to become more proficient in year after year. I’ve gotten a few paying jobs out of it, and it’s truly something I love doing. It’s a privilege trying to tell someone’s story, and capture who they really are. Also, I wanted to catalog the memories I have made with my children. They are mostly tolerant of the camera at this point, but I want the head of whoever invented dabbing on a pike.

Ellie asleep

3.) The stuff that informs my writing? It’s a conglomeration of many things. For so long, it was parenting. And my faith. The past few years, I’ve taken a hard left because that was what life required of me. My father passed away not quite two years ago, and the last few years have seen me sifting through the wreckage of the life I had before descending into unknown parts. I have learned that grief is not the end. Life can, in its own new way, pick up where you left it. You just have to find it again. 

momfilesashley-58-ZF-5817-59877-1-001-057

4.) Who am I as a person? I am a corn-fed Maryland girl at heart, and it has taken me nearly thirty years to accept that fact. I love how unassuming Maryland is.  If I told you to think of small town life somewhere, you’d probably be quick to think of picturesque and quaint little New England towns or the sleepy countryside of Tennessee. Everyone seems to breeze over Maryland but that’s okay, it’s like a magical secret. At least, the Eastern Shore of it feels like that sometimes. I’m tied to water, not necessarily to the ocean, but the thought of moving further inland and being landlocked scares the peons out of me. But quiet, misty countryside is also in my blood, and for me, the Eastern Shore of Maryland has both. So I will fight to the death to stay here. And also, the Redskins are our only team.

I’m the kind of person who might be carrying around a bag of powdered donuts in her oversized purse. My favorite food in the whole wide world is sushi. My favorite music is a mashup of everything from The Beatles to Chris Stapleton. I am the kind of person who will throw open the front door and welcome you in, but who has to warn you to step over kids toys and not mind the crumbs all over the dining room table before I throw a plate of food in front of you. But I just as much enjoy an evening at home on the couch or a day with the covers pulled up to my chin – which hardly ever happens.  I prefer Dr. Pepper to most any wine, not that I’d turn down a glass of wine. I can be overly competitive at times, which means I’m not always the best example of how to be a good sport to my children. I am an animal lover, and grew up with a host of chickens, cats, dogs, horses and even a baby Canadian goose. Oh, yea, and a deer which my family rescued, but I’m told that’s illegal so it didn’t happen. I also love to buy the same shirt in three colors. There should be support groups for that. 

dishes in sink

5.) If you haven’t gathered already – I am a mother. I have three children, ages 9,7, and 3. They drive me insane, and make my world so much bigger than I ever thought it could be. I have been home full-time for over seven years, and some days, it is the greatest thing in the world. And then other days, I white-knuckle it until the husband walks in the door. I home-schooled my older two children this year for the first time ever, and am spending the summer recovering from having to remember how to reduce fractions. I consider our school year as having been a success, so I’ll give myself high fives for that any day.

DSC_0359

6.) Speaking of husbands, I am married to a tremendously wonderful one. Rob and I have been married for almost 13 years. In fact, it will be 13 this month. Which just seems wild. 13 and a half years ago, some guy I had only met once (and who I thought was cute, but don’t tell him I said that) messaged me online. He was currently serving in the military and was deployed, but thought that maybe when he got back home, we could spend some time together. I agreed, and when he got home we met up to watch Napoleon Dynamite as our first date – after picking it out at Blockbuster (!!!) – and we’ve pretty much been inseparable ever since. We got married about six months later after a long distance courtship, and yes, I know exactly how crazy that sounds. But I married the guy who puts the leftovers away late at night before heading to bed. The guy who takes the trash out for me. The guy who always insists on pumping the gas even when I offer. And the guy who makes me laugh and my heart sing. I am so lucky.

lecompte (63 of 77)-ZF-9534-07143-1-001-065

7.) That said, I also married a guy who happens to have the best family ever, and who also knows how to renovate a house like nobody’s business. The first home we ever owned together, he spent the better part of a decade renovating. Seriously, it took ten years. And then when it was done….we sold it and moved to another house that, guess what, needs work done to it. We enjoy comparing the before and afters, but not always so much the process. But what is life if not a process. An extensive process. And lots of work. But little, fleeting but necessary joys?

 

 

So, that’s me in a 1,000 word nutshell! I am so glad you are here. Tell me more about yourself. Do you and I have anything in common? Tell me about yourself.

Thank you for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Go forth. And mother.

You are she. 

 

The keeper of fruit snacks. The laborer of nine pound babies. The rocker of colicky babies, babies who won’t sleep just cause and babies who think night is day.

Her with sore breasts, and round, tired eyes. Aching hips and sore joints. You are she who is perpetually hunched over. With shoulders sloped over a crib-side, a kitchen sink, or a sheet of math homework. You could make a bottle of formula or change a Pampers Swaddler at 4 a.m. with your eyes closed, and you damn well pretty much do.

You are her of the frazzled hair, muffin tops and post-childbirth body. Her who lost her senior-prom hard body and driver’s license weight, her sanity, her car keys and her three year old in the grocery store.

She of the cottage cheese thighs, stretch mark bands on her once smooth places, and straw-like hair. She who both avoids the mirror because she can’t bear to look, and the woman who stares into the mirror and wonders where the person she knew went. You remind yourself that she is just in the other room, only a little out of reach. But you’ll find her again. Soon. Or maybe, you’ll hang out with this woman for a while more because you like how she is turning out. 

You are the woman who does not care. She who wanders Target in mom-jeans at 2 p.m., and the woman in Walgreens at 2 a.m. in food stained leggings buying motrin. And you aren’t even worried if you look like you have been partying at Coachella in the clothes you bought at Wal Mart. 

You are the late night sentinel- both consciousness and unconscious, the mid-afternoon chauffeur and maid, and the twilight storyteller

You are the woman in line at school drop off, at the dining room table sweating through homeschool assignments and waving young adults off to college. You are she who drops off casseroles when new babies come, soup for the person who needs a pick me up and the check for the electric bill. 

You are she of late nights, early mornings, long afternoons where hours move slow as molasses, and children ripen right under your watchful eye and also draw on the walls when you aren’t paying attention. You are the woman who draws with sidewalk chalk in the driveway and puts Neosporin on bee stings on lazy summer days. 

Go forth. And mother.

You are the woman losing her mind when the husband is home late from work. You live fifteen lifetimes in that hour as you watch the clock, stir rice-a-roni and peel crying children off your legs. 

You are the woman who doesn’t even care anymore. Let people talk. Let them stare while your child has a meltdown in the produce department. 

You are a work in progress, a tapestry unending, a Mona-Lisa-smile even when it’s hard old soul who has lived a thousand lifetimes through her children.

You are the woman who has only just begun.

You are the mom who doesn’t need to watch the clock. Who doesn’t care that the dishes are piling high and who knows she needs to run a load through the washing machine, but fifteen more minutes, please. Fifteen minutes more to snuggle, rest your head on your pillow, to sit and just be because one day it will be too late.

You are the person who thinks she is always getting it wrong, so much more wrong than anyone else has ever gotten anything wrong. She who never feels like enough, never believes that her good is good enough.

You are the mom who can’t remember what eight hours of uninterrupted sleep or her bed are like. What it’s like to be out at ten o’clock on a Saturday and not feel tired on a molecular level. You don’t remember what it’s like to feel like you aren’t always forgetting to do something but you do remember the name of every dinosaur from the cretaceous period and My Little Pony there ever was.

You are the person who rests her head against the steering wheel. Who turns on cartoons for her children and leaves the room to sit on the edge of her bed. Who lays awake at night. And cries. Oh, boy. Do you cry. Did you even cry this much when you were a baby? Did you know that you would cry this much ever again, and that it would be because you were raising babies?

You are the woman in the bleachers on a Saturday morning, in a seat in the bright orange high school auditorium with nine hundred other parents, but you’re sure that you are the proudest one there. The mom who shows up even when she is bone-tired because she knows that every moment from this one to that is worth it when she sees her child succeed. 

You are the mom doing it all alone. Homework. Parent teacher conferences. Moody teenagers. Cold and flu season. Missed school buses and difficult conversations and making ends meet. You’re carrying more than twice the load while you bear the stigma of single parenthood. 

You are the mom of a child with disabilities and constant health scares. You love them wildly. You worry about what they will do when you are gone, if anyone will care for them like you do. You manage appointments, critical and condescending doctors and medicine dosages. You would rather pull your eyelashes out than sit in one more waiting room or schedule one more appointment. You wonder where self-care has gone, and when your next date night will be. But you are sure that every step forward, every milestone, every life event that they are here with you is beyond a gift.

You are she who dances with her husband in the living room when the kids go to bed. You who squeezes in romance when you can because you have figured out that romance is not about roses and brunch, it’s connection in its most intimate form.

You are the girl who stands on the back porch when she kisses him goodbye and bids him head off to work. And you watch him climb into his car and you’re sure, while those kids are still sleeping, while you’re standing there in your pajamas with a mop of hair on the top of your head, and you are both exhausted, that life will never be this simple again. 

You are the mom who works. You pack lunches, and make it to soccer practice while your lungs want to burst out of your chest from hurrying so much to be in two places at once. You are the woman who bears the scrutiny of other moms who either wish they could go to work or who think you’re compromising everything to pursue your career. And you bear the brunt of coworkers criticism when you duck out for the pre-k class party and the school play. 

You are the woman who simultaneously wishes above all that she could just give up because it’s all too much to ask. And the woman who would never. Never ever. Ever. Let go. Because hope builds the bridge between not good enough and faith.

You are the woman on the street. The woman sitting on the other end of the line at her desk working customer service. The woman in the department store. The woman in Starbucks. The woman in the church pew. The woman down the street. 

You are all of us, and we are all you. 

Now. Go forth. And mother. 

 

 

Maybe it’s time to be alive again.

This might sound morbid. But, I am going to be honest.

In the months following my dad’s death, I waited to die, too

I’m not sure what logical reason I could give for such a morbid concern. I don’t know if I will ever have an explanation. I think it came from seeing my world crack in half like an egg.

I observed it, like I was a spectator. But then I lived it in realtime, over and over again.

Any pain in my chest or shortness of breath or vague ominous feeling creeping up the back of my neck sent me headlong into an inner torrent of worry. 

My husband and I were laying in bed one night, and I revealed this to him as I lay staring upward, eyes never leaving the slant of the ceiling, for fear that I might look at him and his face would betray me as the lunatic I felt like I was. 

“You aren’t going to die,” he reassured me. I didn’t know if I could believe him.

Maybe it's time to be alive again.

It took a while for me to notice the uptick of anxiety in my every day life, and for me to understand why even the simplest tasks suddenly became challenging. 

We live near a gigantic bridge that stretches the width of the Chesapeake Bay, and even now I can barely stand to cross it – even if I travel in the middle lane. For a while, I was certain that someone would slam into us from behind, and we would all careen over the railing into the choppy water below.

Even merging into everyday traffic became an unnerving ordeal.

The fear that my children would somehow end up in the street pervaded my mind every time I let them play out in the yard.

This is the aftermath of what losing someone suddenly can look like. You learn to not automatically trust in certainties and probably not’s.

My mind raced to fill in the negative space left from losing my father. It filled it to the brim with worry and depression, my mind oscillating between the two like an old, rusty fan. 

Each new day, I wondered what burden would I carry around with me today. Untold grief or strangling worry? Door number 1 or door number 2?

Meanwhile, as an avowed middle child used to disguising her feelings, I operated in my day to day life around other people as normally as I could. I smiled, cracked jokes, made light conversation when necessary, then retreated swiftly when I sensed I was running out of the energy to be both sociable and guarded.

I was “functional,” as I described myself numerous times over texts to the people who intermittently checked in with me. 

Meaning, “I can stand here and make dinner and wash dishes and run the washing machine, but don’t ask me how I’m feeling. Don’t ask me for more than this. Don’t you dare ask me to tell you how it’s really going because I can’t stand to tell it.”

Just like I didn’t notice how much grief was controlling my life as it was happening, there was eventually something else I didn’t notice. 

The part where I started living again. 

I waited so long to turn a corner. In fact, I tried to force it many times. I would concede some millimeter of myself to God, when I even wanted to talk to Him, and think I was cured.

I used to be believe grief was something a person sloughed off, like a butterfly from its chrysalis. 

We believe this lie that we can shed off the things that hurt us, the things that damage us, and never feel the weight of those things again. That we never have to return to this dark place again.

But I’m not sure that’s true. 

I think what is true is that this pattern, this journey toward finding peace, isn’t linear. It has high points and low points. And you never see it coming when you round the bend to what lies ahead when life takes hold of you again. 

Joy, loss and hope. I am a keeper of all three.

You never see it when hope seeps back in to your life. When the joy creeps in. I didn’t necessarily make a conscious choice to be over my pain. It’s just that life found me again. And by the time it did, I was unknowingly at a point where I was ready, despite myself.

My wonderful husband assured me many times of how my father would want me to be happy. He would have wanted me to carry on. For so long, those words hurt. I wasn’t ready for them yet.

Maybe I felt guilty for knowing that eventually, life would carry me further away from the memory of him, the sheer existence of him. It would fall prey to the mechanisms of time until it was just a thing that happened long ago. 

I worried one day, Lord willing, I would be in a rocking chair on my porch, gray and weathered, and it might take effort to recall the sound of my father’s voice, and that thought broke me. And, what if my life can’t be spent building a temple to him and his memory?? What if nothing else feels good enough to honor my grief? 

Does it mean I’ll forget if I carry on, that I’m leaving him behind? 

It was eventually I realized that if I carry on, I can carry my father with me. 

And I could start living again when I realized that my sense of loss could coexist with joy if I was brave enough to trust God that the two could abut each other.

I didn’t need to build a temple to my father and my grief. I realized that I was the temple. And between the chasm of joy and loss is hope.

And somehow, with the Lord’s help, I can be a keeper of all three.