Road to Savannah

I can cross “mini-road trip” off my bucket list! My feat came with some issues. I was absent for one of the worst colds Zade would have this year. I missed my kids’ foreign language performance and party. I didn’t make the fundraiser dish for which Kal forgot to tell me he signed up. Somehow I kept letting myself forget all the cleaning, planning, meal-making, and preparation I made so I could feel okay about leaving. I let myself judge me as a selfish mom who just left her family to have fun.

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This mini-trip wasn’t only a way to see my best friend and feel renewed by our fireside conversations; it was a symbol for a driving adventure, yes, but it was mostly a way to add a characteristic to motherhood that I play with at times: liberating.

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Driving on sleepy roads on the way to Savannah, I couldn’t help but wonder if the home owner on the other side of the acres and acres of land in front of it took as much joy and wonder of his residence as the person driving past it. Does he let the porch give him solace? Does the yellow grass remind him of infinite possibilities, or does he just look past it only to think of a life he didn’t have? Is he comforted by the openness, his mind feeling its infinite capabilities and his soul just wanting to join it? Or does the awkward highway in front of his home remind of him of where he hasn’t gone? It seems to me that it doesn’t matter the space or century; one thing never changes: we face our past with a palette of regret, pain, desire, longing, and, hopefully, hard-won appreciation. This is why cigarettes were born.

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Driving is liberating, something Andrea said so well; it’s one of the closest things to walking down a path of memories, sporadic and randomly connected like the gravel and the pebbles alongside it. Driving long enough that your peripheral settles along the crisp brown branches and the proud green pines can create a beautiful tunnel where your mind can wander and work and breathe.

While driving I thought of confines I’d put on myself in the past. Having protective and loving parents came with the truth that I was 31 before I took my first independent road trip, for example.

Layla challenges me sometimes, and I love it. It may be subtle. She refused to bring me a brush today because “her hair wasn’t tangled;” she didn’t accept my recount of a story because it didn’t have all the details; she questioned why her brother gets away with running around in his underwear but she is encouraged not to do that.

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I want my daughter to find strength in my mistakes and in my hopeful adventures. I want her to analyze decisions that I’ve made, specifically the ones I have a hard time facing today, and most acutely the ones that look selfish to an outsider. I want her to recognize that the strength I found to make those bold moves, to actually make it happen, is the very strength I want her to have even if I tell her to listen to me. I want her to be brave and strong. I always say this about my kids: I am in love with Zade’s mischief and tenderness, and I’m consistently in awe of Layla’s heart and soul.

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Because I don’t want my daughter to just accept, because I don’t want her to just cater, I hope she’ll see beauty in my small victories, even if that means I couldn’t attend her performance. I want my son to find a partner in life who teaches him to grow and forgive and thrive and fight, even if that means I couldn’t make him soup that weekend; I want them to feel liberation in life, in friendship, in marriage, and in parenthood.

And maybe that just means I have to strive to find it myself sometimes.

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6 Months

Six months ago today I had a seizure behind my dining room table. I was online trying to register the kids for a rec center program, and the house was filled with the normal sounds—cartoons in the background, Zade playing and clicking toys together, and Layla asking her dad questions. Both my kids saw me have the grand mal seizure. All I remember is feeling gripped by what I assumed was a small anxiety attack, and then black.

I found out some details later. At first the kids thought I was done working and that I’d thrown myself on the floor so they could jump on me and start our play time. It was a few seconds later when Kal got up to see about the noise I was making, and this synced up, he tells me, to around the time the kids figured something was wrong. Layla ran upstairs in fear and peeked through the banister; Zade put his small hand on my forehead and tried to kiss me better; and Kal stuck his finger in my mouth to prevent me from, he feared, swallowing my tongue.  I’d have jaw pain for two months and he’d have a large dent in his finger that we’d joke about later when sitting in waiting rooms and trying to bring levity in the face of test results.

I woke up in the ambulance and remember the technician telling me I had a seizure and that it’s okay. Kal was at my feet with Zade next to him. I found out later that my kind neighbor who was suffering from breast cancer watched the kids so Kal could figure out what to do. I don’t remember anything after that. And then I remember being in the hospital feeling as though my head had been rattled and that time had stopped. I was worried for my health, but mostly I was upset for haunting my family and my kids with that awful image of flailing arms and guttural sounds, of mommy looking like a monster.

I didn’t want to write about this incident after it happened since there were so many unknowns. I’m thankful that the really big stuff has been ruled out and that I’m moving forward. I’m most thankful for the family and friends who rallied to give me rides since I was advised not to drive for 6 months and my kind husband who never complained about being my personal courier service.

But the beauty of this post doesn’t have to do with the worried, anxious first few months or the limitations that came with health issues.


This morning I sat in my car with keys in my hand and drove to work the first time in 6 months. Kal took pictures of me getting the car like a proud parent and the kids yelped, “Today mommy can drive!” A few students who knew of my incident held a small party for me when I got to my classroom. My friends who drove me consistently to and from not only encouraged me but also made me feel that they’d miss my company on our rides together, something incredibly touching since our lives are crammed with so many responsibilities—another stop really didn’t need to be added to their list.

I always feel ridiculous referring to my situation sometimes because I know that everyone deals with something; sometimes it’s silent and invisible to others, and sometimes it’s the opposite.

One common denominator with any human is that we value our independence, our autonomy, and when something unpredictable changes our lives, we long to return to normalcy whatever that normalcy may be. I’m sure I’ll be complaining about traffic or running errands soon enough. It’s inevitable to take things for granted, but I welcome any of it because I know it just means that things are somewhat back on track.