Things Fall Apart

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I don’t remember the trip home.

My first late night at the office this semester proved nearly disastrous. When my senses entered shutdown mode, I faced two choices: drive home sleepy or pass out beneath my desk.

But, in the middle of deep contemplation (i.e. the edge of hallucination), I heard an echo of laughter…and perhaps reason. It was a woman’s voice.

Immediately, I found myself overwhelmed with sadness. It was 11:45 p.m. and a lady – just outside my door – would soon retrieve my trash. What a life.

My very presence soon startled her. But, with one hand on her chest, her earnest eyes challenged my entire existence.

What are you doing here?

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In Sickness

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I hold this fear that I will die before I see 35. I worry I won’t know my son and daughter as teenagers. The very thought of never meeting my grandchildren, indeed, takes my breath away.

But I am overall healthy. I run 3-4 days a week. I don’t drink. And my days are fueled by oatmeal, nuts, and vegetables.

Recently, however, I was quite ill. Six hours of vomiting – to be exact. The virus was so powerful that I found myself gasping for air between commode encounters. On a makeshift bed of well-used towels – given to us at our wedding – I laid myself down. At 2 a.m. the Earth is silent.

Until, that is, I heard a door creak.

“I think I’m dying!”

“No, you’re not.”

And, with that, a hand I know so well rubbed my back.

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Happy Trails

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The week after my freshman year of college, my first love broke my heart. He ripped it out, used it as target practice, and urinated on the tiny fragments of my innocence.

So I agreed to an overnight camping adventure with my childhood friends. Tears were shed, alcohol was consumed, and a battle of the sexes resulted in toilet paper and Pop-Tarts being burned beyond recognition. I needed to remember how to laugh again.

Most vivid, however, was my endless night in a poorly pitched tent. I tossed. I turned. Despite my best efforts, I could not escape a jagged rock beneath the nylon.

Yet, somehow, I found healing in the midst of my life’s first mental crisis. And – just before sunrise – the mountains closed their arms around me.

You are home.

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Morning Cup of Job

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My struggles weren’t too different from Job’s, but my questions were not existential. I simply wanted to know the secret to feeling good. Lately, the kids had been driving me into the ground.

While Job may have reached out to questionable friends, my choice – like every toxic relationship – was one I swore I would avoid forever.

And so began my caffeinated month of craziness.

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Duel Realities

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It was the “I’m in pain” cry, and it stole my breath. As I bolted to my daughter on the other side of the house, I began blaming myself for the encounter.

Moments earlier, my son had spotted a poorly hidden toy that grandma had surprised him with months ago. Now there was pain, tears, and guilt.

Somewhere along the way, my life had turned into a game of Clue: It was my son…in the front bathroom…with the plastic purple pistol.

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The Sweet Enemy

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I am a mother. I have two young children. And every birthday party I attend feels like one giant lie.

To be honest, I am one who has always prided herself on control.

I maintained two very healthy pregnancies.

I lost the baby weight.

I prioritize exercise.

But, deep within, there is a secret: I have a toxic relationship with sugar. And – when no one is watching – I binge.

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The Answer to Marriage Is Soccer

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I wanted to be angry. Truly.

After a Saturday full of child laughter (i.e. parent supervision), the last thing I wanted to do was put both kids to bed by myself. The very act ages me exponentially. But my husband wanted to go to a soccer game, and I knew this “favor” would come in handy at a later time of convenience.

Marriage mistake #1: Keeping score.

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The Night Rape Knocked

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On the night of my eighteenth birthday, I heard a loud knock on my door. It was approximately 11 p.m., and my roommate had no plans to return until morning.

“RA’s! Open up!”

I peeked through the peephole. Two men, not much older than myself, sought entrance. In my naiveté, I opened the door.

“We heard complaints of noise. Are you having a party?”

I was stunned. Only three weeks into college, and I was already in trouble. But, quickly, my real error surfaced: I had unknowingly granted two strangers access into my room late at night.

It was 2 vs. 1, and I was in no position to win.

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Fields of Gold

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Long before I was a mother, I was a runner. On April 15, 2007, exactly nine years ago today, I completed my first 5k. It was a windy and hilly race for which I was not conditioned, and, due to low runner turnout, I actually managed to get lost in the barren fields of early Virginia spring.

I crossed the finish line with a three-minute, don’t-follow-the-sorority-girl-who-is-lost delay. My legs, already jelly, would struggle to move the next morning.

I will never forget the innocence of that day.

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A Mother Nose

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On most days, parenthood feels like the dying of oneself. Life no longer revolves around you or your own independent decisions. Instead, you will likely find yourself last on the priority list at the close of each day. This does, however, offer a most amazing peace: your children are alive and you lived another day to bask in their glow.

I was experiencing the euphoria of this moment just before bed one night last week. It was approximately 10:00 p.m., and I was ecstatic about an early (at least for me) bedtime.

As I turned off our living room’s final light, I glanced at the rug that my children frequent during the busy hours of day. The toys, in classic toddler fashion, were strewn around the room. Make a note of that slide, I reminded myself.

As I completed the excited tango of a careful mother in the dark, it struck me. No, literally, our wooden doorframe struck me. Crack! My nose had failed in its attempt to move the wall.

Two doctor appointments and three x-rays later, the verdict was less than amusing: a likely fracture. I may have even laughed at myself if my face hadn’t been hurting so badly.

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