Bless me loud

Avery and Lily have always been talkative, with Avery the chattier of the two. Lately, however, Lily has given her sister a run for her money. We’ve had some interesting conversations.

At breakfast:
Avery: Where the almonds come from?
Me: A tree
Avery: Like the broccoli tree?
Me: Ummm, yes.
Avery: How bout the cauliflower? A tree?
Me: Sure.

Dressing the girls for school:
Avery: Mama, your feet so big! They are so big for walking on.
Me: That’s because I’m so tall and the taller you are the bigger your feet.
Avery: MY feet are TINY!

Driving around looking at Christmas lights with my brother David, a.k.a. Uncle Danny
(1st house)
Lily: Oh Wow Mama!! It so pretty! You make it for me?
Me: Yes
(2nd house)
Lily: ooooh, loooook! Mama, you make it for me?
Me: Yes
(10 houses later)
Lily: Mama! You make it for Uncle Danny?
Me: Yes
(And she just continued from house to house with the list of every person she knows. Apparently I’ve been quite busy)

Playing after school:
Avery: Mama, do you have eleven money?
Me: Yes I do.
Avery: That’s good. That’s good. I have a hundred money.
Lily: I need coins. Uncle Danny have coins.

Lily: I want my hoo hop!! (hula hoop)
Me: What’s the magic word?
Lily: Abracadabra!!

Holding my wooden Santa from Russia
Lily whispers to Santa: I want a tuba, a trumpet, a guitar, a tiger, and a witch.
Avery whispers to Santa: I want a princess with blonde hair, a pink dress. A grown up, not a baby.

Avery: I want to go to Nenna’s house. The chickens will be so excited to see me!!

Avery: Where Santa Claus live?
Lily: At Wal-Mart.

Avery: Where the gasoline go?
Me: In the tank.
Avery: Like Nemo?
Me: Exactly.

Listening to “Bad Romance” on a never ending loop
Avery: Where is the bad romance?
Me: California. Definitely California.
Lily: How bout the Bass? I want Bass on Mama’s phone. (Meaning “All About that Bass”)
Avery: I want see the Lady Gaga on Mama’s phone.
Me: Yeah, I don’t think so.

During our night time prayer:
Me: Thank you God for Avery. I’m so proud of her. She’s doing great work at school, and she works so hard on her letters and numbers, and she plays so nicely with her sister
Lily: And she hit me in the face, and she need obey!
Me: Well, yes, God, please help all of us to behave ourselves.

As part of our bedtime routine, I take a turn snuggling with each of my babies. I hold her close; I sing her lullaby; I speak a blessing over her, and I give her as many kisses as she requests. We alternate who goes first from one night to the next. The blessing I say is from Numbers 6:24-26, which are the words that God instructed Moses to have the Hebrew priests speak over the people of Israel:
“The LORD bless you and keep you. The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
I bless my children in this way, not because I believe any words are magical or a good luck charm, but because these words embody my most sacred hope for them. When instructing Moses, the LORD indicated that the priests were to speak the blessing in that exact formulation, demonstrating that this blessing comes from God himself, and the priests are simply the instrument that conveys the blessing. From their earliest memory, I want my daughters to know the LORD’s gracious will towards them.
I had already snuggled Avery, sang, given her blessing, and kissed her a dozen times all over her face as she requested. By the time I had finished singing Lily’s lullaby Avery had drifted off to dream land, so I said Lily’s blessing in a whisper. When I finished and bent to kiss her good night, she exclaimed, “Bless me loud, Mama!” I suppressed a chuckle, and did just that. I blessed her loud.

Single Mom

So I’m a single mom. I find myself saying that a lot lately, like I’m trying it out to see how it sounds, to gauge the reactions on people’s faces. Frankly, avoiding that label is one big reason I stayed in an abusive marriage as long as I did. The label “single mom” conjured up images of sadness, brokenness, abandonment. I didn’t want to be a single mom, until I realized that it was the only road out of a perilous situation. So, here I am, six months into being a single mom. The best part is not feeling impending doom breathing down the back of my neck, fearing whether or not I would be able to keep my babies and me safe. The sense of freedom we all feel is palpable. My girls are growing and learning at a dizzying speed. I am blown away by them on a daily basis. They’re safe, and they know it. We just had our first Thanksgiving as our new family. We spent a week at my mother and stepfather’s idyllic, country home, complete with a barn, a pond, and autumnal trees. My amazing brother, A.K.A. Uncle Danny, was kind enough to take pictures of the girls and me for us to use on our Christmas card. I’m so happy with how they turned out that I can’t wait to share them.

Why I Stayed

I don’t think he’ll hurt us.

Those were my words, in the middle of a terrible night, eyes wide and searching, trying to see my way through the dark.

That’s what every woman says before it actually happens.

Those were words spoken by a true protector, a man who saw it all as if in the light of day, not swallowed up by the dark, holding up a light to the truth. My brother.

If he’ll do that to the wall, he’ll do that to you.

Words of a friend looking at the sheetrock, the recipient of the previous night’s rage, a friend who walked that dark road a long time before me, a friend who managed to find her way out.

Why did you stay? Why did you stay after the man who was supposed to love you called you crazy, stupid, warped, lazy, controlling, fat? Why did you stay when he used physical force against you?  Why did you stay when he put your life and Avery’s and Lily’s lives in danger?

Questions asked by many when the truth of my marriage had been revealed, after I admitted the emotional abuse, after I admitted that he’d already put hands on me in anger, after I admitted how his actions had taken me so close to losing my precious ones.  My reasons look weaker and weaker.


Marriage is hard. You have to tough it out.

He’ll change.

I love him, or at least I used to love him.

He’ll change.

It’s best for the kids, even though he treats me badly.

He’ll change.

I don’t want to have to start over. Create a whole new life.

He’ll change.

I don’t want to be labeled “divorced.” A Single Mom.

He’ll change.

Last and saddest.  But we had such a beautiful wedding. Fairy tales always have happy endings.


Those are some of the reasons I stayed with an abuser. Now I’m free. I don’t have to hide anything anymore. I don’t have to cover for him, so that we can save face. I’m not alone.


I packed up our family and wedding pictures yesterday, preparing to sell our house. I was choked with grief. Not over the end of the marriage, but because I had to admit that the story those pictures told was never real. The man who held my hand in those images was not the man in reality. Those beautiful, beautiful pictures were lies.

As Avery, Lily, and I said our nighttime prayers last night, Lily said, “Thank you God for crying.” She took my breath away. Yes Lily, I thank God for crying.  It’s the only way to begin again, washed anew.

Under the Influence of Whole Milk

IMG_3216_1591We have officially entered the phase in which my toddlers resemble the village drunkards from some early Irish novel. Yes, that’s a quote from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Another one I like is, “You better take care of me Lord. If you don’t, you’re gonna have me on your hands.” Anyway, Avery and Lily stagger around the house, gripping walls and furniture like two revelers at the end of a very long happy hour. I know the word toddler sounds cute, but we should really call them staggerers. It’s more accurate.



The girls still crawl a lot, which gives me some relief from the fear of them bashing their little skulls, but they’ve both developed the awesome skill of putting their hands and feet flat on the floor and their butts up in the air. They stay like that for a few seconds, pondering what to do next, maybe even making a semi-circle turn with their hands as the center. Then they plop back down and carry on. When I take them in the car, I let each of them hold a toy. As I’m trying to strap them into their car seats, they clutch the toy with both hands and obstinately refuse to let me have even one arm at a time. Avery has taken a shine to carrying things in her mouth like an animal. I don’t know where she learned that, but it’s an efficient method of transport. I always have my toe nails painted. The bright color must confuse Avery. She repeatedly has tried to lick my toe nails, while Lily has developed a taste for licking the soles of my shoes, if I’m so careless as to take them off within her sight. She likewise enjoys sucking milk into her mouth, only to expel it down the front of her shirt. We never make it to the end of the day with both children fully dressed. Usually Lily is sans clothing, while Avery crawls around with Lily’s discarded Onesie in her mouth. In the evening, you will see them crawling around, spitting out half chewed Cheerios on the rug, driving their push-bikes in meandering circles while under the influence of whole milk, and jabbering incoherently with expressions on their faces as if they are imparting great wisdom to any who listen. Just like tiny inebriates, every preposterous thing they do makes total sense to them. Being cute and little sure does cover a multitude of sins.

Is today my birthday? Yes! Today is Saturday!

My great grandmother would play a record for us that had this song that taught you the days of the week. It was super repetitive, which is probably why all of my family still sings it decades later. This little boy would ask his mom, “Is today my birthday?” and she’d say, “No, today is Monday,” and he’d reply, “Monday?” and she’d answer, “Monday.” Then they’d move on to Tuesday, and so on and so forth. Apparently the kid’s birthday was on Saturday, so when they got to Saturday we were all relieve for this poor kid who just wanted it to be his birthday so badly. Well, today is my birthday, and it’s Saturday.

I absolutely love watching Avery and Lily playing on their own. It’s so funny how kids just get into their own little worlds and do weird stuff. I sat at my desk this morning and snapped these pictures of them at play.