Blueberry Memories

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I grew up on the coast of Maine in a sleepy little fishing village half way up the coast. My parent’s property looked over St John’s Bay, tucked down through the woods at the end of a dirt driveway. Behind our house were more blackberry and raspberry bushes than we could count. On lazy summer days I would wrap myself in blankets and make my way through the tangled berry thorns to the center on the patch where I would lay my blankets out and soak in the sunshine. It was my little slice of heaven, tucked away among the bramble.

At the height of summer, I would abandon my sanctuary and venture to the very edge of the front yard where the grass met the rocky Maine coastline. It was there the sweetest of all the berries grew. Tiny berries no bigger than the round end of a thumb tack, peeked through think, low lying bushes. If you blinked, you would miss them, Maine blueberries.

Further down east (north and to the east for those from away) there were miles of fields of these tiny berries where workers with rakes that resembled hair picks would spend their days raking in these sweet treats. For 14 years, Maine blueberries were all I knew. I didn’t know until I went away to boarding school that blueberries the size of my thumbnail existed. Yes, I lived in a shelter little bubble. Heck, I didn’t even know white eggs were an actual thing until I was 21, but that’s a story for another time.

Despite this new and mind blowing discovery, I remained loyal to my tiny little Maine blueberries until I was well into my 30s…right about the time we moved to New Hampshire. Now I find myself visiting the coast of Maine less and less. Instead, I find myself staying closer to home, creating new memories separate from those cherished childhood ones I’ve held so close for so long.

It is here, in New Hampshire, that children are forming memories of gigantic blueberries where only 10 fit in your hand at once. With a local blueberry field practically in our backyard, we’ve been creating moments at sunset as we pick these sweet treats to bring home for pies, jellies, and snacks.

They say home is where you hang your hat, but in summer, I would argue that home is where you pick your blueberries.

Counting My Blessings

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Three years ago, all of this was nothing but a dream. I was in a toxic on/off again relationship and renting a 950 square foot condo for me and my two kids. Then, in August, I decided to look online at houses in the area. I figured it was a pipe dream and I would, once again, be left longing.

But there is was, an awkward 187 year old bright blue house in my price range, sitting on the market just waiting for me. Three months later, I was moving in and on with my life. Two months later I met my husband who brought with him my bonus son.

The house is in constant disarray with half the neighborhood running in and out and all the animals living in various areas on the property. Laundry piles up and dishes sit in the sink. Corners fill with dirt and dog hair magically appears in the bathtub. The kid’s rooms smell like feet and their are turkeys living in their playroom. Even with all this, I couldn’t be happier.

We live an amazingly full life where we are constantly attending activities and school functions. Some weeks we aren’t home except to sleep, which only make days like these a welcome reprieve.

Days like these I can sit in the backyard, overlooking everything I have created and feel truly blessed. None of this was because of luck or because it was given to me. It all came about because I persisted. I refused to accept that what I had was all I ever would have.

Today, and every day, I count my blessings. I list them off in my head and thank each and every one of them. Because life is what we make of it, and it will never get better unless we allow it to. Allow yourself to let go of all the negative holding you back. Allow yourself to be independent and confident, to forge your own path. Allow yourself to do all the things, but don’t forget to be thankful for every little thing because those little thing build up to be big things and I’m living proof.

OES: Old Egg Syndrome

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I need to explain something to all of you. It’s something I feel goes unnoticed on a daily basis by the majority of people, but it’s plaguing more than most people realize. I’ve only just come to terms with the fact that I myself am struggling with it on a daily basis. Because it is my struggle, it is also my family’s struggle because they have to live with me. This struggle is called “Old Eggs Syndrome.” I am now in my 6th month of being 37 and Old Egg Syndrome has taken hold of me and my life. It makes me confused, anxious, and weak.

Symptoms of OES include:

  • Weeping when seeing pregnant women
  • The urge to adopt all the cats
  • The urge to adopt all the dogs
  • The urge to adopt all the rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, and chinchillas
  • The urge to hatch chicken eggs in your kitchen
  • Rubbing your belly when someone talks about babies
  • Feeling your ovaries try to lash out when you ovulate
  • Excessive hugging of small children who aren’t yours
  • Excessive morning kisses for your own children
  • Holding your 10-year-old like a baby
  • Failing at reminding your 7-year-old what it was like when she was a baby
  • Fighting the urge to suddenly let all your kids sleep in bed with you because pretty soon they won’t even try to come into your room unless they are looking for your hidden whiskey stash
  • Asking your kids if you can  hang out with their friends while they all still think you’re a “cool mom”
  • Insisting your kids listen to your 90’s grunge playlist because Kurt Cobain was the shit
  • Staring at your old maternity photos in bed while sobbing into your wine glass after the kids go to sleep
  • Talking to all dogs like they are toddlers
  • Cradling your bottle of wine before opening it
  • Warning your significant other when you are ovulating
  • Wondering if this will be the last time you ever ovulate
  • Thinking you’re having a hot flash every time you break a sweat
  • Wondering if your IUD is destroying your ovaries

I see pictures of babies, and I want all the babies. I see pictures of goats, and I want all the goats. I go to a friend’s house where I am approached by their dog…I now want all the dogs. I sit on my couch at night thinking back to the cat I saw at the animal shelter last month and can picture myself covered in all the cats. This morning my left ovary whispered to me, “Time’s almost up,” and then kicked me.

My kids already tore my stomach muscles and gave me arthritis in my hip, but my ovaries don’t seem to give a shit. They just keep pumping out little old eggs like it’s nobody’s business. Other people drink because of life’s stresses and struggles. I drink to shut my ovaries up. The struggle is real. So, if you know someone suffering from OES, do at least one of the following:

  • Buy them the world’s biggest box of condoms
  • Buy them a vibrator that will put all penises to shame
  • Call them every time your baby wakes up in the night to remind them what no sleep feels like.
  •  Offer to pay for their hysterectomy
  • Bring them all your poopy diapers
  • Keep them drunk until they are done with menopause

I Don’t Need to Feel Beautiful to be a Mother

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I don’t feel beautiful anymore. I don’t even feel pretty. The word “attractive” doesn’t cross my mind unless I’m thinking about Mike Rowe or Bruce Willis. That’s a lie, the word “hot” crosses my mind when I think about them. “Fucking Hot,” to be exact. So no, I don’t feel beautiful or pretty. I feel…average.

Average Brandi, the woman who is a little larger than most 37-year-olds in the area. Average Brandi, the outspoken single mom. Average Brandi, the woman who spends time in the mirror each morning wondering where all the fun went. Average Brandi, the mom who is constantly asking other parents to be her Rent-a-spouse. Average Brandi, the woman who is used to feeling alone while surrounded by people. Average Brandi, the woman whose body hasn’t been a Wonderland in years. Average Brandi, the woman who loves her kids more than life itself. Average Brandi, the woman who has somehow helped two children thrive in a one parent household. Average Brandi, who constantly feels like she’s holding the world on her shoulders. Average Brandi, the woman who isn’t average at all.

I may not feel beautiful anymore, and I may no longer turn heads. Men don’t think I’m irresistible, and I’ll probably never be sexy again. I’ll never have that certain something that turns anyone on, or produces the feeling of passion in a person again…and I’m ok with that.

I’m ok with that because to two people in my life, I’m not average. To them I am amazing. To them, I make a difference.

If I only get to be those things to just two people in my entire lifetime, I’m ok with that. Why? Because I’m a mother. Those two people call me “mom” and that’s all I need in my life. It is all I need to feel complete, whole and wanted. Nothing in life matters more than that.

I am a mother. I am strong. All beauty aside, I stand tall. I am a pillar of strength for my children. I am their advocate. I am their everything. Even when the day comes where they rebel against me, I know it will pass and I will once again be “mom”.

I don’t need beauty or sex appeal to be who I am because I am a mother.

Today I Am Worth It

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In the past two and a half years I have put on almost 20 pounds. I now find myself jiggling in places I haven’t felt jiggle since my daughter was born. When I walk, my ass looks like it’s bumpin’ at the club, and my sides wiggle  like they’re being tickled. Don’t even get me started on my boobs. The two things that are growing at such an obscene pace, I’ve maxed out my JC Penny’s credit card. I have wrinkles in places I didn’t even know could wrinkle, and hair growing in places no hair should ever go.

This past year, I let the weight gain, wrinkles, and hair get the better of me. To top it all off, I was letting the stresses of life get to me. I would look in the mirror, and not even recognize the person looking back at me. All I saw was a sad woman, carrying the weight on the world on her shoulders. She constantly looked exhausted. She never liked to smile. Her eyes were sad. Her skin was pale. I had let all these things define me. My struggles at work, a failing relationship, and overall struggle of raising two young kids had taken over what I thought I was. Boy, was I wrong! Letting all that define me made me into…well…a miserable bitch.

Life isn’t always fun, I know that. Life isn’t always awful either, I need to remember that. As I looked at myself in the mirror the other night, tears streaming down my face, flat out ugly crying I started to look at my life up to that point. Where had I been? What had I done? What had brought me to this point of self hate? I want to say this is the point where I had this amazing, snot induced epiphany…but it wasn’t. This is where I went downstairs, ignored the homework that was due in two hours, drank too much a beer. I was a failure. I was useless. I couldn’t believe I was allowed to raise children. My personal pity party carried on into the next day, at work and into the night.

I sent out a few “pay attention to me” text messages to friends, posted some adult emo content on social media, and cried…a lot. I was convinced I would never finish my degree, get a better paying job, buy a house, or find someone who thought I was worthy of a daily weekly foot rub. My kids deserved better, and I was the worst mother alive. I looked at myself in the mirror again, confirming all the horrible things. I then climbed into a hole, covered myself with dirt, and gave in. I let the all the negative in. I let it take over all my emotions. I could feel myself breaking apart, full of hopelessness. There was no way I was going to be able to climb out of this. Then I woke up.

The alarm was going off. The cat was starring at me. Same day, different date. But something was different. Something had changed. As I climbed out of bed, I caught a glimpse on my naked body in the mirror behind the door. Who was that? She had soft curves, smooth skin. She was younger and free. Then it hit me, I was looking at myself. My wrinkles were still there, but they were less harsh. My ass was still bumpin’ at the club yes, I checked, and my boobs were still monsters. Everything was still THERE, it was just different. Confused, I walked into the bathroom to look in a different mirror. There I saw strength and beauty. I saw a woman who had control of her life, and was going to do something about it.

I had let all the negative consume me completely. I let it fester and manifest. I let it have it’s way with me. Then it burned itself out, leaving me in a pile of ashes. This morning, from those ashes, I awoke and arose a phoenix. Today I can take on the world. Today I can give my children everything needed for a full, and happy life. Today I am beautiful. Today I am worth it. Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.

Yes, I’ll still have to shave my toes and work on losing weight, and that’s ok. I’ll still have days where life will push me down, but I’m ready. Today I have a confidence I have never had before. Today I love myswlf. Today and every day going forward.
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