Friday, December 2, 2011

On Babies, Part II

I kind of love babies. I think I've mentioned this before. Even more than babies, I love my babies. I love holding them, I love playing with them, I love seeing them learn new things, I love hearing the funny things they say, I love watching them play and hug and kiss each other. I remember when Aaron was born (after the trauma was over and the epidural had done its miraculous work), I thought, "Now I see why some people have 10 kids." I wanted more. I loved this little person so much, I wanted more and more of them. I wanted to fill my house with them.

...And now I'm sounding like the crazy cat lady, only with children...

Anyway, the point is, I understood why some people choose to have big families. You love each little soul so much, and each one is so unique and special, you just want to see the possibilities and fill yourself up with that much more love and joy.

Here's the thing. I still want more kids. I want more newborn snuggles, more 1-year-olds, more silly jabbers and words, more hugs, more kisses.

But I can't.

It's not a fertility thing. I'm pretty much a fertility goddess. I've never had any trouble conceiving, even when I've actively taken measures to prevent it. Every act of, ahem, you know, is followed by vigorous crossing of fingers that I didn't just get pregnant. I wish I could give it away to someone who needed it, because honestly, it's more of a curse right now than a blessing.

The problem is that damn post partum depression. Things are fine for the first five or six months, then bam!, it hits, and it hits hard. The first time I managed to muddle through and climb out of it after just a few months without medication or anything. This last time, though, was brutal. I'm debating with myself as I type how much I should write about the specifics. On the one hand, depression really shouldn't be stigmatized, and I shouldn't be ashamed of it. Right? On the other hand, admitting that I nearly destroyed myself and my marriage and my family isn't an easy thing to do. So suffice it to say, it wasn't pretty. It's been a year since it started and I'm only just now pulling myself out of it. I can't do that again. I can't put my family through that again. Ever.

So. I have those maternity clothes in my closet. Not many, just the ones I'd miss if I were ever pregnant again. The ones that I'll never wear again. I have my Molly doll in the basement, with all the little accessories and outfits that my mom made, that will never be passed down to my little girl. I have the baby clothes that I just can't give away that will sit in a closet. The little ballet slipper socks. My pink baby blanket. The Hello Kitty baby blankets that my mom put aside, just in case. The baby bath. The mobile. The crib bumper. The pack-n-play. The bouncy chair.

I knew that Sean would be my last. I savored the little kicks and rolls inside me when I was pregnant, because I knew I'd never feel a child growing inside of me again. And in all honesty, it will be nice when the kids are a little older, when they can do more for themselves. I'm not a "natural" mother, and staying home with the kids has been extremely difficult for me. I'm looking forward to doing something else, something I'm better at, something--dare I say--more fulfilling.

I just don't know when the longing and that little bit of emptiness will subside.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sorry, Tomorrow Me

I should be sleeping right now. I'm exhausted. But I feel too...I don't know. Full?

I get this feeling sometimes. I guess it's my "spirituality" or something. It's the feeling that everything is important, so much is good, so much could be good. And everything gets jumbled up inside me, quiet, meditative. No one thought stands out; instead, everything melts together and I find myself concentrating on everything and nothing.

I'll probably look at this tomorrow and think, "What in the world was I talking about?" It won't make sense to me tomorrow. But Today Me is rarely concerned with Tomorrow Me. If I were, I'd have gone to bed an hour ago. And I probably wouldn't have eaten those cookies.

I miss people. I miss friends I was close to. I miss friends I wasn't as close to almost as much. There's an aching in my heart for them; I love them deeply, I think about them, but for whatever reason they never knew it and never will. It's probably better that way. I guess. I don't know; that's just what you say, right? Probably better that way, because I can't stand the thought that it's worse that way, because I can't change it without changing too many other things.

I miss church. Not "the Church," but church. I miss getting dressed up with somewhere to go with my little family once a week. I miss seeing my boys in their cute sunday outfits. I miss being fed, however rare of an occurrence that was. I miss seeing people, neighbors, the little old ladies who for some reason were crazy about me. I miss believing in something and having "solid" evidence (talks and scriptures and stuff) for why I believed it. I believe a lot of things, wonderful things, but I have to be my own prophet now, and honestly, it's a little scary. And lonely.

On the other hand, there are things happening. Amazing people are finding their way into my life. Amazing things are entering my mind and my heart. It's lonely out here sometimes, but it's not a cold, loveless place. There are so many ideas, old and new, sublime and ridiculous, that are reaching their arms around me. Ideas might not be the right word. Doctrines, thoughts, theories, concepts? Mercies, maybe. Regardless, I'm being filled with love and compassion from places I never thought to look. And those two things, love and compassion, are the most important, miraculously simple things in the world. They're all that really matter.

I need to go to bed now, to sleep and let the drudgeries of life build back up in my heart so that I won't impulsively blog nonsense, at least for a little while.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Prayer For My Son

Tomorrow I place my son on the alter.

I am not called, like Abraham, to sacrifice my son. I am a mother; I am called to raise my son. I am called to give life, not to take it away. Nevertheless, he will lie there, helpless and still, at the mercy of man and blade.

I am worried. I pray to God that he will be okay. I say God; perhaps I mean Goddess. That word, though, is hard on my ears. I've lived my entire life under the rule of patriarchy. God is not Goddess. God is God. Goddess is strange and forbidden. And I say God, because that's who I know. And while God destroys nations and slaughters entire civilizations, God also gathers us as a hen gathers her chicks. God reaches out to lift up the hands that hang down. God sheds blood and water and life to give us birth. God is as much Mother as She is Father.

And so I pray not to the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, but to the God of Eve and Deborah and Esther. I pray not to the God that required the death of His son, but to the God who raised him up again. I pray that though my tiny, precious boy will lay quiet and still, he will once again open his eyes and smile and laugh and live.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Maybe It's Nothing

I think he's depressed.

He seems happy enough, usually, although it's almost a manic kind of happiness. But behind it, there's sadness, always sadness. It clings to him like fog clings to a lonely shoreline, seeming to disappear when the bright sun breaks through, but always returning with the darkness of night. Sometimes it comes out anger, sometimes bitterness, but really, it's always sadness.

She's part of it, I'm sure of that. He doesn't talk about it, but every once in a while it seeps through. He's angry at her, he's angry at the other man, the grown man who should have known better--they both should have known better--and she, like a child whose mother has left the room in frustration, sits confused by his withdrawal.

He's hard for me to pin down. He's friendly and talkative, but it's difficult to make a real connection. I think it's a problem of passion. When he loves, he loves wholly and passionately and with complete abandon, and when he hurts, he hurts deeply and permenantly. Middle-ground relationships are difficult.

Maybe I should say, Cheer up. You've got so much going for you. You're amazing and capable and you don't need to do this to yourself. The alcohol doesn't help the way you think it does. Throw it away and embrace life and love and be happy.

That's easy for me to say. My adult life has been charmed. Everything I should want--love, family, children, money, education--has just fallen into my lap.

But even with all that, I'm still sometimes consumed by depression. I just hit the coffee cup instead of the beer bottle. We're both just trying to make it through the day, trying to find that elusive, fickle thing called happiness.

I hope he finds some.

Monday, July 11, 2011


I had the strangest flashback. I was laying in bed after feeding the baby early this morning, trying to go to sleep, when suddenly I was back in second grade. My teacher, or maybe a "special guest" or someone else, had announced that there was going to be a multicultural assembly/celebration/something or other. The details are a little hazy. Anyway, any students from other countries or with "multicultural" heritage were invited to participate.

I'm part Danish. If you don't believe me, just look at my full name. It really doesn't get any more Danish than that. My great-grandparents came to Utah from Denmark, making my grandfather American by birth but fully Danish by blood. My dad had always made a big deal about being Danish, and my mother claimed to be an "adopted" Dane, so I always took a little pride in my sort-of-quarter Danish heritage.

Back to second grade. Back to the multicultural program thingamabob. I volunteered. I wanted to be part of it. Whoever was in charge and had made the announcement--I only vaguely remember that it was a round woman--took me out into the hall after I excitedly raised my hand. I don't think she believed that I was multicultural. All she saw was a little white girl from Utah.

"Are your parents from another country? We want kids whose parents or maybe grandparents are from another country."

"No. I think it's my grandma or something. She was from Denmark."

Or something like that.

So she grudgingly added my name to her list. I don't think she was very excited about it.

When time for the assembly came, everyone involved was to walk into the gym carrying the flag of their country. For the life of me, I could not remember "Denmark" when the flag person asked me where I was from, so I just got handed the last random reject flag. I really wish I could remember what it looked like, because to this day I have no idea what country I was supposedly representing.

I do know that I was the only white kid in the assembly. There were Mexicans, Koreans, Colombians, and none of them white. I stuck to my guns though, determined that I was multicultural.

And indeed, I think I am. My ancestors came from Denmark and Scotland and England and Ireland and Germany. Some of them were pre-revolutionary war colonists; some were relatively recent immigrants. There's even rumor that a native American woman named Watchikitka was among my progenitors. And there's solid evidence that I'm directly descended from "Mr. Cool." A lot of different cultures went into the making of Jo. The girl next to me may have had Korean parents, but I don't know that she had traveled outside of Utah any more than I had. And it's entirely possible that she was descended from a long line of Koreans, and not Russians or Chinese or Welsh or anything else for a long way back. Yet she was legitimately "multicultural" because she wasn't white. And I was kind of the multicultural assembly's white bastard child.

So what does "multicultural" actually mean? Does it simply mean "not white?" Do predominantly white cultures not count? Are they completely homogeneous simply because the people who created them freckled easily? A white person born and raised in South Carolina would bristle at the idea that she was essentially the same as, say, a white person born and raised in Boston. Am I to believe that "culture" is white and "multiculture" is brown/black/purple/green/yellow?

I think that's dumb.

And I'm (Not Really) a Mormon

Here it is, the post I've been dreading.
But I think it needs to be written.
I'll try to keep it short.

I'm not really mormon anymore. My name is still on the records and everything, but I don't believe and don't attend (although I do still sing "Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam once in a while).

Whew, there's the bomb. Now for the commentary.

I'm not going to delve into the details of my disaffection. I'd be happy to discuss it privately with anyone who's interested, but the point of this post is not to enumerate my grievances with the church. The point of this post is to inform those who didn't already know, and to tell the world (and myself, I suppose) that I'm okay.

In fact, I'm better than okay, at least when it comes to spirituality and religion. The decision to leave the church has absolutely been the right thing for me to do. This may be hard for some people to wrap their heads around--ten years ago I wouldn't have thought it possible that leaving the church would be good for anyone. I think it's one of those things that is really hard to understand unless you've been there.

So what am I now, if not really mormon? I don't know that there's a label for it. Agnostic Christian Buddhist...humanist...universalist...Saganist? The funny thing is, I think a lot of my religious ideals have remained the same, but instead of being personified in the form of God, they've kind of been generalized to people, nature, the universe, what have you. This means giving people full credit for the amazing good their capable of, as well as full credit for the great evil they are also capable of. I don't know what the whole purpose of everything is (I tend to think that nature is an end in itself), I certainly don't know what happens when we die (I kind of have to believe we're with loved ones in some form in order to remain sane), but I strongly believe that the here and now is important, that the relationships we form and the way we act and think are important. I no longer see people as the center of the universe, but we are a beautiful and rare part of it, like all life. Losing my religion hasn't made the world look more depressing and useless. It's made the world all the more beautiful, life all the more miraculous and precious. And quite honestly, it's comforting to no longer believe in a man-God who is just a glorified version of Joe Shmoe sitting across the pew playing with his iPhone. (You can't have a post about leaving your religion without at least one snarky comment, right?)

I'm not going to try to convince anyone to leave their religion. Quite honestly, I would strongly advise against it unless you absolutely feel you have to for your well-being, because it's extremely painful and difficult.

I don't want anyone to worry about my eternal soul. I think she's doing quite well and will be okay in the end. However, if you feel bringing baked goods will help, I encourage it.

Now, for my next post, I will be discussing politics.
Not really.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011


So I'm in this band. Or at least I was; maybe I still am. I have no idea. Anyway, I went to high school with two of the guys in it. I loved them back then. They were quirky and funny and completely awesome. Turns out, they are still quirky, funny, and awesome, but they are also amazing writers. I had no idea! And the awesome hippy chick in the band? Also a great writer. Yes, I've been blog stalking all of you.

Reading their work and getting to know them again has made me remember part of who I used to be, part of me that, while not dead, has been in a kind of hibernation--thanks largely to two lovely, life-consuming little boys. The same part of me that I was thrilled to rediscover a few months back when I found myself listening to that Dvorak violin concerto that I once loved. The part of me that is free and joyful and curious and alive. The part of me that longs to write.

It's been a long time since I've written much. (Sure, there was that novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo a year and a half ago, but that was truly abysmal, and therefore doesn't count.) I realize that, despite what my mother might have told you, I'm not exactly a pulitzer-worthy writer at the moment. And I'm not happy with how I ended that sentence, but I can't think of anything better right now. See?!

But the point of resurrecting the Daily Jo really isn't to wow you with my linguistic prowess. Which is good, because since most of my conversations are with a nonverbal baby and an only slightly (but hilariously) verbal two-year-old, even just my vocabulary has become, um, not big and good. Or something.

The point of this is for me to write, for me to work through myself, and for you, fair readers, to either comment up a storm, quietly lurk about, or ignore the whole thing and forget that I even had a blog. And I'll be honest, a part of me really wants everyone to do that last one.

More to come.