Rip tide

There are times that I feel the need to spill words onto paper, whether by typing or through writing. The urge is nearly overwhelming; it feels like the tide is rushing in, the white crest of the wave flooding the shore with words, phrases, feelings, hopes, fears. They scatter across the sand, eager for me to walk by and pick them up, rinse them off, and tuck them into my pocket.

Life has been the hectic, chaotic, swift dance of ending school and beginning of summer. Mornings appear to be filled with frustration and held back tears or glide by so smoothly that I’m left wondering how it was even possible.

Big things happened in our home last Friday. Things that I’m terrified to face and beyond eager to put behind me. I’m fervently wishing that doors will open and things will start to get easier. I need easier. Simpler. Smoother.

Years ago, I stumbled across a piece of writing that resonated so strongly with me that I’ve held it close for years.

Someone once told me that if you wanted a perfect metaphor for life, look toward the ocean.
For the most part, life is pretty constant,
like the gentle rolling of the tides;
life is a balance between the high points and the low points.

Every drop of water causes a ripple in the ocean,
just like every event we experience affects our lives.
Sometimes the storms roll in and stir things up.

There are times when the waves break too close to the shore
and crash down upon us.
And we have to pick ourselves back up before
the next wave knocks us even further down.

There are times when the rip tide pulls us out,
and we get lost in the enormity of life,
and we wonder if we will ever make it back to shore.

Well, right now, I feel caught in that rip tide.

As of today, I am caught in the rip tide. It feels like there was a major storm; Hurricane Divorce. It swept in and caused catastrophic damage. Once the flood waters receded, the clean up began. The clean up feels like it’s been littered with the typical government red tape. The sticky tape that delays aid, reroutes supplies, and requires five different signatures, all notarized, before allowing you to begin your life again. There are moments that I’m treading water, desperate to keep my head above the salt water that threatens to choke me with each breath. To quote Lin-Manuel’s genius, there are moments when you’re in so deep, it feels easier to just swim down…and learn to live with the unimaginable.

Yesterday, the ocean felt like it was pulling me further away from shore. I felt the sand scraping my body, my lungs struggling to inflate, and the sting of salt water in my throat and eyes. Through it all, there’s Lee standing on the shore, just watching. Maybe he’ll occasionally throw out a suggestion like “Hey! You should really try to keep your head above water!” or “I’ll go get a lifeguard, let me finish this game.” Instead of finding a lifeguard or wading in, he stands on the sand; eyes glued to his phone, it being ever more important.

I find myself in an odd place. I want to curse his name but want to stay above it all for the kids. I have a few trusted friends that I allow myself to message with profanity-filled statements. These conversations serve as my lifeguard, my buoy. They help bring me a little closer to shore, give my tired legs a reprieve while the tide ushers me back in. Thank you, my buoys. I owe you a debt of gratitude that will never easily be repaid.

Yesterday, we decided to abandon the house and move into apartments. Yesterday, we decided to tell the kids about the divorce tomorrow. Yesterday, I began looking for apartments while trying to figure out what kind of budget I’ll be on. Yesterday, it felt more real than it had in a while. Today, I drank my coffee and just enjoyed the moment. Today, I took the time to finish this post. Today, I will scrawl words into my journal. Today, I will hold each child tight. Tomorrow, I will carefully choose words to explain why life is changing. Tomorrow, I will answer questions, listen to concerns, and give hugs. Tomorrow, I will rip off the band-aid. Tomorrow, I will.


It started, and ended, with a hamster.

It has been one of those weeks. I had to pick a sick kid up from school, drop off a backpack, remember to make a lunch for a field trip, figure out a flea market project, deal with a fussy baby, and conquer sixteen loads of laundry. Oh, and keep four kids alive.

Turns out, while doing all this fun stuff, I would also add hamster savior to my list. Yeah, you read that right. Hamster savior. It started on Monday. I was laying down with the baby, nursing her to sleep so I could hopefully accomplish something. Our back patio runs nearly the full length of the house; there are two windows from my bedroom that are covered by it as well as a sliding glass door in the kitchen. Trust me when I say you can hear everything that goes on out there. That’s why I heard the glass door slide open, and heard HRH out there plotting world domination. It’s fine, it’s all cool. That means I’m a step closer to actually getting the baby asleep without hearing a never-ending monologue that is peppered with demands and questions.

“STOP THAT! DON’T EAT THAT!” Ah, the battle cry of HRH. Usually this means that one of our idiot cats has managed to escape into the great outdoors and is hunting a lizard. We have tried to keep them indoors, but have given up. These ferocious beasts have plowed through screens and have nearly killed us all on multiple occasions as they barrel through your feet if you open the door. They’re cats. They’re assholes. Two of them particularly enjoy killing the lizards that gather on the back patio. My outrage is exhausted after the shit of this year and I just can’t with the damn cat/lizard war anymore. Besides, HRH usually fights off the cats and the lizard races to freedom while its persecutor is given an emotional lecture.

“NO SADIE! DON’T EAT THAT!” That got my attention. Sadie, our three year old bull-mastiff, eats things. Things like human food that she isn’t allowed to have. Things that most definitely require me to carefully detach from the sleeping baby and race out to investigate. As I was entering the hall, there was a loud crash. I sprinted to the kitchen. I saw Sadie racing into her crate, tail tucked between her legs. The sliding glass door was open, HRH was still yelling, and one of my kitchen chairs laid broken near the island. There was also a hole in the wall from the chair’s ear. The broken cross rail was nearby. HRH told me that Sadie got her head stuck and ran off, hit the wall, broke the chair, and GUESS WHAT! SHE SAVED A HAMSTER.


Way to bury the lead there, kid. She began to tell me how the cat caught a hamster and she saved it. She said she held it in her hands and was going to put it in her shirt so it would stay warm, but Sadie was trying to eat it (also known as sniffing it), so she put it down to make Sadie go inside. When she put it down, the cat tried to catch it again, she yelled at the cat, and the hamster ran off into the woods. Okay. Got it. Now, to be honest, I assumed she meant a baby bunny. Last week, I had to clean pieces of a baby bunny off the back patio. Before coffee. The cat, Dorito, is a killing machine. I’m currently looking for a barn that needs an excellent mouser.

I told HRH that the hamster was probably fine; it was in the woods looking for its family. I stressed how we need to keep doors shut to keep the cats inside so they can’t catch anything. She nodded and chased the cat indoors. I thought we were through. Life is never that easy. For the next several hours, HRH would venture outside every 15-20 minutes to loudly call “HAMSTER! COME BACK HERE! I SAVED YOU! COME BACK!” This kid is quite determined. She really will either become a fabulous CEO or blood thirsty mob boss. It’s still up in the air.

It became afternoon. HRH left the door open when she went out to beg the hamster to return and Dorito escaped. I went out to round her up, my shadow following me closely. The cat, knowing I was trying to catch her, avoided me at all costs. At one point, she walked over to the grass by the rain spout, sniffed, and stayed still. I walked over, hoping to grab the demon, and made the mistake of looking into the grass. There was a hamster. An honest-to-God, living, breathing, hamster. “YOU CAME BACK!” Great. Her savior spotted her.

The cat was shooed inside, and an empty fish tank was procured. The stupid little hamster allowed itself to be captured. I was in shock. I didn’t really think she had saw a hamster. How the hell did a hamster make its way to my backyard? How did it survive a cat attack? I examined the little fluff ball and saw several puncture wounds. Googling “hamsters after cat attacks” didn’t exactly give me much hope of its survival. I called Jess, my go-to course for all animal info, and she agreed it didn’t look good. Hamsters, after being attacked, tend to have a euphoric state she said. It will probably act fine all day, but expect to find it dead in the morning. Morbidly I knew I could handle a hamster funeral, so we shredded paper, taped the lid on, and waited.

Heart Heart

Heart Heart 1 in the glorious fish tank

It survived. I woke up to see shredded papers rustling and a very happy almost-four year old. It was one of those take a deep breath, hold it, release, and move towards the coffee maker type of mornings. The hamster, named Heart Heart, stayed alive the rest of the day. I purchased a hamster cage, bedding, and food. Heart Heart was placed inside and immediately scampered onto the wheel and spent a long time spinning. Personally, I feel like he was showing off. “HA! TAKE THAT CAT! TAKE THAT LADY WHO WAS PLANNING MY FUNERAL!”

Friday rolls around. I’m sitting on my bed trying to be productive. I had my curtains open, enjoying the sunshine while I folded a never-ending basket of laundry. I glanced to my right, looking out the window at the glorious green grass. In that grass, I saw a little ball of fluff and an evil grey tabby batting at it. I sprang from my spot, raced outdoors, and began cursing the little jerk hamster who repaid my hospitality by escaping its new cage and trying to commit suicide by feline. I scooped it up into a handy Easter basket and walked back inside, cursing its little rodent self with every step. I opened the cage door and was about to dump the hamster in when the bedding moved. Heart Heart stuck its fuzzy little brown head out. I gasped. “NOW I HAVE TWO PETS!!!!” my very excited shadow exclaimed. My heart sank. My mind was blown. How in the everloving universe is this my life? Anyone?

I had to tell someone. I needed someone to fully understand what my life was this week. The solution was obvious. I texted my friend Richée. This conversation is gold. I can’t try to recreate it blog form. It has to be seen in its organic form. The pain is slowly turning into laughter. It has to. It has nowhere else to go.

It began with this video and the tag This is how my week started…

This is how my week ended…