That time I tried to perfect the smoky eye and raged at Adele

Was going to a mom party where we get all glitzed out and fight over cookbooks. Thank you, girlfrann Joy.

So of course I decided to bust out the smoky eye. And by that I mean I took 40 minutes total to research smoky eye shadow on Pinterest using my particular eye shadow palette, tailored to my particular eye color. Then another 20 to follow along and another 20 to correct my mistakes so that I didn’t look like a wax figure in Madame Tussauds. Thanks all-girls high school, thanks for skipping over that whole chapter where you’re supposed to master eyeliner applications that don’t look like electrocardiograms on the ol’ eyelid. Memorizing the epilogue to the Tales of Canterbury was clutch, though.  You just can’t imagine how often I quote Chaucer on the daily, while applying eye primer.

After I finally got the special effects where I wanted ’em, I snapchatted smoky eye game on fleek because social media rules.

Drove to mom party. En route, Adele’s new song “When We Were Young” cues on FM dial and let me state for the record that that song is a nuclear weapon. One moment, you’re just riding in the car to your mom party looking shnazz and the next moment, Adele is hefting onto your lap all the anguish and catharses that everyone who has ever fell in love has ever experienced including all the characters alive and dead on Grey’s Anatomy and suddenly the 4.5 hours you spent on your eye shadow is blobbing off into rivers and snowdrifts and you are looking for the windshield wipers for your eyes because you are about to arrive to the mom party looking like you spent the last 3 nights in the poky.

And isn’t it ironic that Adele, whose smoky eye game is on a whole ‘nother level, whose eyelashes are the same ones used for centuries to paint Italian frescoes, and who sings everything with the most perfectly breathy brassy ache, just became a mother herself. Of all people, you’d think she’d be more respectful of the smoky eye perfected for the mom party. I can’t help feeling she knew I could have had it all. Instead I was rolling in the deep. Of the feels and black eyeliner.

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This was the only picture I took, screenshotted from my snapchat. Oh there’s a barfy sentence if you want.
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The gal in the foreground is my optometrist. She’s a total babe and might be single. Apply within. 
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Loved how Christa looked with her big pink prezzie. 
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Thank you for wonderful book party memories, Joy. “Calhoun Rocks!”
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2015: The year of the release

We were just talking in bed, Loverpants and I, as we do more often, now that we have children who can breathe on their own. And that was the point, I was explaining to him. This year has been a watershed one for me because I no longer feel like I need to breathe for my children. My lungs started working overtime at the birth of my children, and it has been unceasing, this breathing for them, until recently when I felt released.

2015-11-05 18.58.35Parenting in America will do that to a person predisposed to control issues. If you read the books and practice the fine art of narrating your life aloud, you will appear in command of your and your child’s life, which is just as vilified as it is rewarded in America. Hashtag helicopter parenting. You oftentimes feel so responsible for the entertainment and well-being of your child that you will feel tethered to him/her at all times, much like you are breathing for him/her. 2015-11-05 20.25.29

You become a ventriloquist controlled by an unseen ventriloquist called SuperParent. But then one day you realize even ventriloquists take turns speaking for themselves and their puppets.

2015-11-05 21.00.00This year has been gracious to me in showing me my condition. My helicopter propellers were about to fall off.  My lungs were on the verge of collapsing. My ventriloquism wasn’t even very good. I went to a conference in October and did a lot of talking to myself and listening to God and walking up and down the streets of Greenville, SC until I was good and ready to come home a new woman mom teacher human BEING, not a human DOING as my bosslady says. 2015-11-05 20.16.21

Above: Christmas at the Clay Pot

I resolved: I had to stop stressing over Baby Girl’s spelling tests. This was second grade, after all, and I had already passed the class myself. I had to let Little Man sit in the hula-hoop of shame at gymnastics and not send him laser glares from the balcony. I had to bench myself, both as a coach and a player, over and over because this wasn’t my game. I was only a fan in the stands.

2015-11-05 21.36.21As I let go of my clipboard and picked up my pom-poms, strange things started happening. Baby Girl started getting 14/12 on her spelling tests. Little Man emancipated himself from the hula-hoop of shame. My team started winning and I had nothing and everything to do with it. I could feel my lungs relaxing a little–what was this new elevation? It was manageable and less stressful. I went to the gym more and gave myself permission to sit at my kitchen table and play with markers and glitter and be a hobbyist.  The only unhealthy obsession I nurtured this past year was with watching every episode of “Friday Night Lights.” And pondering why Michelle Obama and I are not yet best friends. 2015-11-05 20.26.19

I trusted that my kids could handle some consequences of their own making. I released myself from this tightly-wound rope and–what do you know? It might have made me more available for sessytime with Loverpants. I’m saying it’s a possibility. WINK.

“This has been a very creative year for you,” Loverpants said as I was starting a new chapter of a novel that was not written by Roald Dahl. There could not have been a higher compliment coming from my dashing counterpart. He recognized someone who was no longer immersed in creating problems and creating opportunities to provide air support. He saw someone creating things that brought delight and in so doing she was creating space for change. Change this past year has looked like a lot of glitter glue and paint on the kitchen table, and four members of the FamiLee breathing a little easier. God bless us, every one.

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A letter to the Kendrinthians

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I finally recycled the Christmas cards from last year. The first one in our mailbox, like a mechanical cuckoo busting out of its hatch, gave me permission.

As I dropped the pile of cards that had been hanging like its own bunting banner in our kitchen for a full year, the arms of two places reached and held me for a moment. It was liminal. Liminal meaning the way one can occupy two places at once, on the edges of both places. I was moving from the last year’s place of assurance to this year’s unknowns. Last year we were well-remembered and well-loved. This year, we hope it is the same or better.

It’s just paper, Kendra. It’s paper and humble-brag and holly. But it’s more than a steady stream of smile grams and glossy postcards. It’s a letter to the Kendrinthians. It’s trust that the tide will rush back in this month. It’s believing that the smiles by mail will say, We remembered you. Here is a new way to remember us in your mind’s eye, with our rad plaids and dandy bowties.

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I have only learned how to be a good friend in recent years. Embarrassingly recent. I’ve been surrounded by a big family and endless acquaintances for my entire life. I’ve faked extroversion and gushed over connections and given salutatorian addresses to loud applause.  All the while I’ve been lonely as hell. I stood behind the Dairy Queen counter and customers told me not to smile so much. I went home and wore out my Tori Amos “Little Earthquakes” cassette and soaked my pillow with salty tears. There are places worn thin in my girlhood bedroom carpet, wear I knelt in the sad Boo Radley isolation that only a melodramatic teen could ever maintain. I’ve been surrounded and smother-hugged and had to pull away to get some air. For years.

I hadn’t learned to embrace the good within yet. How could I let myself be embraced from without?

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It took learning that He is Goodness and He abides in me to change the tide. Once I realized that a holy portion of Goodness rocks it on my insides, what was there not to love? It’s not self-love–it’s a love of a Creator who occupies broken vessels and fills in the gaps with an adhesive that is stronger than any force I know, which has flooded me to overflowing. It has been liminal space. Realizing the love that was within me was also the love I have to give. Realizing always that I am at the edge of a love so great, it can overflow without doing damage. The love spills out and for maybe the last seven years, I’ve learned to be the kind of good-ass friend I would want. In turn, I have been blessed and highly favored by good-ass friends. I’m grateful and wealthy indeed.

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I’m wishing a dear lady a happy birthday today. You taught me that kindness is a prettier dress than judgypants. I thank you. 

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