Friday, July 30, 2010

Old Habits

Image by irenesuchocki

April 1984

Dear MaryJanes,

When I called my old "love" I never expected that he would say, "Where are you, I will be right there." Even when I have broken his heart, married and then gave birth to another man's child, he still wanted to see me. He was there within the hour, and you took to him instantly. He has a gentle nature and I think you must have sensed that. It was awkward, I wanted to explain how selfish I had been and to tell him how sorry I was for what I put him through, but he did not want to hear that. He told me that all that mattered was that I had called and he hoped he had a chance to step back into my life, our lives. He is so sweet, but I don't know that I feel the same for him as he feels for me. I wish I could muster something up, I just feel bad for him. He never married, he told me he still loved me and would never love another. How can I walk away from this man?
Why is it that I miss you father right now? Right at this very minute when this handsome man with a promising future is offering his love for me and to help raise you. And all I can do is think about why your father does not love me like this. In truth, I am in love with the idea of what I hope your father could become. His father is such a wonderful person, a good soul and someone with integrity. It is my hopes that some day your father will turn into the same kind, gentle man that your grandfather is......someday it's bound to happen.

Bill stays and visits for a long time and when it is time for him to leave, he asks if I will come and see his folks, he says they still ask about me. I tell him I think that would be nice and then he walks out the door. I watch out my second floor apartment window as he walks to his car. He looks up and then surprises me with a hand signal that we use to give each other as we parted ways. His arm went into the air, and then his pinkie finger was raised with the other fingers clasped shut, our sign for, "I love you." My eyes water and I realize that I have carried this sign over to my relationship with your father. I 'd almost forgotten where is originated from. There it was, slapping me in the face. I will cry tonight, a good long cry, and when I can not muster up another tear, I will close my eyes and sleep.
Now close your eyes and go to sleep.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Past and Present

April 1984,

Dear MaryJanes,

I believe in the foundation of an old fashion marriage, marry and stay married. Your father has made this moral of mine very challenging to abide by. He will not for the life of me, or you for that matter, GROW UP! I have been attracted to the wrong kind of guys all of my life. I credit this flaw to my father. They say you marry a man that is similar to your own father. GOOD GRIEF, what is wrong with me? I despise everything about my father. Will you do the same? Will you want to date guys that are wild and sexist? {Note to self, have conversation with MaryJanes regarding good guys and bad guys when she turns 3, and drill this into her every year until she marries}

Our apartment is not in the best of locations, but it is what I can afford with your father's $100.00 per month child support that I agreed to. {stupid, stupid woman!} It's a one bedroom so your crib is close to my bed, I love to lay there and watch you sleep. I will go without a phone, I suppose there are plenty of neighboring doors that I could knock on in the event of an emergency. A phone is just an added expense that I can not afford at this time. Your father has rented from a couple that have a house with a mother-in-law quarters, and yes, he has a phone. He can afford this luxury on his $27,000.00 income.
I have gotten back in contact with a friend from my previous pointless job. She was glad to hear from me and that made me feel really good. She stood up for me in my wedding and we slowly lost contact after that. She is not a fan of your father, and was thrilled to hear that I separated from him. She loves to go out and hear music and dance. I don't much care for the smoky bars and how loud it is, but I do love to dance. It feels good to have someone to talk to and laugh with, I have missed that.
I am so glad that during the week you have friends to play with. You seem to take a leadership role, even with the children that are older than you. I set up play stations for you and the others to play. I build forts with blankets and we collect the dolls to put ny-nite inside of it. I try to show you and encourage you to use imagination play, I hope that you maintain this skill through out life. It's a good thing to be able to use your imagination! Sometimes when we are at home and I turn the music on, you and I dance. I have noticed that you actually have really good rhythm especially for just be a little over a year old. This is one of my very favorite things to do....just turn up the music and we dance. You smile and giggle and in those moments everything in my world is flawless.

I wonder what you think about being in a new place? You are used to not having your father around, but now you rarely see him. This is so unfair to you. I question myself several times, Am I doing the right thing? All I can do is to create distance from him to see how he reacts. Will he miss us enough to try to make a change? Will he step up and become the man that you need him to be as a father and that I need him to be as a husband? Can he change? If he could just see that family is the most important thing that life has to offer, maybe he would then just try. But for now, I will look around and see if there might be other doors that open. I don't like being without a man in my life, I never have. For this reason it doesn't surprise me when I drive to a phone booth and scroll my fingers down the pages of small, black text. Will he be listed under William or Bill? I find my answer, William, my first "love" and the guy that was not like any of the other boys in my life. William was sweet, kind and everything a girl should look for when dating. He treated me like I was the most important person on earth, but I got bored, and tossed him aside for a California beach bum. I drop my coins into the slot, and I dial the number that my finger is pointing to. What will I say? Why am I calling? I hear a familiar voice on the line, and a gush of emotions runs through me. Guilt weighs the heaviest to me, I never do well with the feeling of guilt. "Bill......?" I ask. I hear him breathing, he knows it is me. It has been four years, and he still knows that it is me. "Lisa?" he replies. What Am I doing to this poor guy? He is in the past and I should leave the past alone. I can see no good to come of this, yet here I am, ripping an old band-aide off of his heart.

Now Just Pretend.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Toys break

Dear Galoshes,
Your instinctive mothering skills and child like imagination will prove to be what saves me from needing serious therapy when I grow older. Years from now a man asks me what the first Christmas gift I can remember getting was, I recall something from when I was twelve years old. He then asks me what my first family vacation was and I recall details of camping and adventures with you starting around age four. You see, toys break, kids grow tired and bored of them, but memories last a lifetime.

Love Always,

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Image by Alicia Bock
December 18th, 1983

Dear MaryJanes,

We've been having to leave for work a little earlier lately to allow for the conditions of the snow covered roads. I see all of the beautiful toys that the couple I am working for are buying for their three children. They have wrapped them up so pretty and spared no expense to the amount of ribbon and bows that adorn those packages. It's a conflict on my mind not to envy their situation as I know that I have you with me all day long and their careers not only interfere with their daytime hours, but also includes night time meeting obligations as well. I know in my heart that the best gifts that I can give you are my time and love. Even with this knowledge, I would love to spoil you for Christmas with an armload of brand new toys. I have been thrifty with my shopping and tried to spread it out over the last few months. I scan the second hand shops for suitable toddler gifts. I know that you are too young to know any different, but I know. If your father would just release his grip around his wallet, I could buy you something new, something special that was meant for just you. I don't ask for his contribution towards the upcoming holiday, and he does not offer. So it will be what it is to be, thrifty and creative.
I am certain that others in the family will be giving you new toys, and I am so grateful for that. I hate to see you go with out.
I think about a time when I was very young, it's a memory that my sister tells me is one she can never seem to erase from her mind. She tells me that I had very long braids in my hair and chubby little checks, just like you have. We were at my grandparents house for a Christmas get together of my fathers side of the family. All of my cousins were there, I was the third youngest and my sister was the oldest of the cousins. We lived further away from our grandparents then the other cousins and this led to favoritism on my grandmother's part. It was most noticeable when all of the aunts and other girl cousins received bath robes, hand made from big fluffy towels. My grandmother had made them and boasted about how much she loved her own. I sat anxiously for my turn to receive mine. I was about 5 at the time, and didn't understand why my robe had not been handed to me yet. I turned to my big sister, Kim and asked her the question, "Where is my special made robe?" My sister tells me that this broke her heart. She knew that she and I were not receiving those special robes. She understood, even at the age of 11, that she and I were not favored like the other girls, and only special girls got those fluffy robes. She would never forgive our grandmother for not making me a robe like the others received. She did not care that she, herself did not get one, she just couldn't bare the sadness in my eyes of being left out. That's the kind of big sister she always was, putting my feelings ahead of her own.

I suppose now I can better understand what she must have felt. When you become a mother some day, you will want the best for your children too. And on the occasions that they feel left out, your heart will break as you look into their eyes. This is one of those days for me. I can not imagine a much worse feeling than not be able to provide your child with the things that you feel they are worthy of. I will make sure that you feel my love and that I give you a sense of comfort that no toy could ever provide. I hope when you grow up, you know that I am doing the best for you that I know how. I just hope it is good enough. Now stay close by.

Love, Galoshes

Friday, July 23, 2010

Chubby Cheeks

Image by Alicebgardens

September14th, 1983

Dear MaryJanes,

You are eight months old and have the chubbiest little cheeks! Your smile is soft and sweet and your giggle is contagious. You amaze me everyday with how strong and alert you are. I am really good at this whole mother job! Everything seems to come pretty natural to me. You are a really good baby and this makes my job of raising you easier. I did not return to the job that I had before you were born. The thought of leaving you in the care of some one else was too scary for me. I answered an ad requesting a day time nanny and was hired by the family of five. This job allows me to take you to work with me and to have other children for you to play with. The hours are long as we leave the house at 6 am and return home at 6pm. The payoff of knowing what you are doing all day and making sure the foods you eat are fresh and balanced, makes the long day worth it.

My mom had found a second hand crib and she and my father brought it over when the time came that you needed one. I could see that my mom was worried about me, but she is not the type to interfere. She keeps quite and does not share her feelings with me. My father is not fond of children in general, never was. He especially doesn't have time for girls. Boys are superior in his world. In the event that I might actually want to do something, like have a life, I do not ask my mom to watch you. This would put a tension between her and my father. I am 21 years old and I am living the life of someone in their thirties. I have no friends or social life, and even if I did, after I pay my half of expenses and take care of your needs, there is no gas money left to get me any where. On the upside, if there is something about your father, it is that he is entertaining. On the occasions that he and I do go out together, his folks have been wonderful about watching you. You are their first grandchild and they adore you. Our usual choice of entertainment is to hear a live band and to dance. A motorcycle is generally the mode of transportation and there is a side of me that loves the thrill and danger of riding fast. When I am behind your father on the cycle and he is in race mode of 100 mph plus, I have no fear at all and actually get a bit of an adrenaline rush. I suppose it reminds me of being a young girl and racing through the woods with my horse. The faster she went, the happier I was.
I wonder if you will be a dare devil?
Now calm down.
Love, Galoshes

Image by irenesuchocki

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What's in a name

Image by Sadie Olive
Dear Galoshes,
Little do you know that I despise this name "Heather". I shall begin to beg you for a new name in just three short years. For now I am thankful that at least you did not go with some of the made up names you had on your list, although they are unique, they are certainly not fit for this girl. It will be many years before you finally give into my pleas, but Heather Lee is just not me!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Image By: Sixth & Main

January 1983

Dear MaryJanes,

I have had no detailed conversations with other women that have delivered babies, so when I am given a paper bag to breathe into, I can only imagine how frustrated the nurses must be with me. They can see that I am not prepared. I have no breathing technique, and I insist that I do no want pain medication. The doctor gets impatient and breaks my water. Why wasn't I consulted on this issue? Isn't that suppose to break naturally when you are ready to arrive? I can honestly say that I am not a huge fan of the traditional medical practice. I would prefer to be in a cabin with a mid wife instead of this sterile room. As it turns out, you are a large baby and it is probably best that I did not get that scenario. I finally am convinced to take something for the pain. I can honestly tell you that I have never used drugs or alcohol, which might be the reason that the pain medication put me right out. I asked if I could just sleep for awhile. I want sleep! We are in the delivery room and the doctor starts to get nervous, I have no energy to continue to push, I can barely keep my eyes open. He has no option other than to get the forceps and help pull you out. You take your first breath and follow up with a well deserved scream. Your father is there, he comments on the delivery, "There is no pee-pee" I interpret this to mean, "Congratulations, Lisa, you have a beautiful baby girl."

You are a beautiful, healthy baby at 9 pounds 1 ounce. I breath a sigh of relief and fall asleep as they take care of your needs. The medication that I was given for pain takes hold of me and I do not remember much right after you were born. I know that at some point they want me to stand up, but I pass out as my feet touch the floor. Next thing I remember is waking up in my room. I am bonded to you the second that I hold you. Everything in my life up until this moment means very little to me. You are my baby and nothing on earth could make me happier. What shall your name be? I ask that question several times.
Your father is rarely at the hospital, he has a cause to celebrate at the bars, and takes full advantage of that. My doctor notices this and grants my wish to stay an extra night in the hospital to get the additional help from the staff while I am there. I have told him that once you and I go home, I am on my own, without any help from anyone. We will be out in the middle of the country with a car that does not have brakes.......still.

On the 5th day, you are finally given a name, it will be Heather-Lee
Image by irenesuchocki

I love you more than my own life. So this is what motherhood feels like!? It is like a natural high. A feeling so calming that I just sit still and watch you breath. I have forgotten all about the morning sickness, it seems like ages ago. I can see that you look just like me, I wonder what your personality will be? Will you be quite and shy? Will you be out spoken and adventurous? So many events to look forward to. I adore you, Heather.
Now just relax.



December 1982

Dear MaryJanes,

We have moved to another rental and once again, we are out in the country. The house we are renting is a charming old farmhouse and I feel it is a better living conditions. I have witnessed a few things that our previous neighbors had done and I know these images and memories will never leave me. I struggle not to replay the events in my mind and find it hard to block them out. There was a couple that rented another duplex on the same driveway that we had lived on and their life style was bizarre to say the least. This family consisted of a man and a woman about my age and her 2 year old son. This man also owned a pet mountain lion and kept it in a cage up on a flat roof top. This is Wisconsin, and owning a mountain lion is not the norm. The young woman ran to our rental every now and then to escape the man's temper flare ups. I have seen the bruises that she has received on her legs and I don't know how she can bare the pain. I have tried to convince her to leave him, but she never does. I feel frustrated and bewildered that she chooses to stay. I suppose my family draws the same conclusion about me. At our previous place on a nice autumn day, I had let the two dogs outside. I later heard gun shots, which is not all that uncommon while living in the country, among acres of woods. After an extended period of time, I called for the dogs to return. Being extremely obedient I was surprised when Kari did not return with Dagmar. The neighbors in the opposite direction of the driveway have a yellow lab which is standing outside in our yard, this was unlike him. I approached him and found a bullet hole on his side. He has been shot......where is Kari? I yell and scream for her with no response. Your father is at work which is at least a 30 minute drive. I never ask him for anything but I call and tell him what is happening at home and ask him to please come come, and drive fast.
We searched the woods and though I was 7 months pregnant with you, I walked those woods, searching for hours. I am heart broken. A few weeks later we move to our new place without the presents of my best companion.

Image by Bonnie Jones

I have convinced myself that you will be a boy. Your father finds this insight to his liking as much as he can fathom the whole concept of fatherhood. You are being referred to as The Little Racer.
I have come to my own medical conclusion that the more stress you have when you are pregnant, the more apt you are to have 24 hour nausea. I am sick from one morning to the next.

I do my best to make your nursery cute. I use vintage items that I have collected through out the years. I don't have much to put inside your dresser and no stock pile of diapers to use. I have the very bare minimum from what I received from your baby shower. If anyone appreciated a baby shower, it was me! Now I wait. I begin to get anxious about your arrival. I am excited to welcome you into my life. I dream about what you might be like. Who will you look like?

I like the yard in this new place. I spend allot of time just sitting on the porch watching Dagmar run around and play. She has taken a liking to the beagle a crossed the road. She listens well and has a funny sense of humor. I think she realizes that she humors me. It helps to have her around, especially since the loss of Kari is so recent.
On a warm autumn day I was enjoying being outside and watched as Dagmar darted over to the beagle's yard, something I try to discourage. I called her back and I saw her stop quickly in her tracks. She was returning to me, right into the path of a truck with a trailer. I called her to her own death.
I think I might curl up and die myself. This life is just too hard, and I don't know what more I can take. With this series of events I start to worry that something might be wrong with you. Has God got it in for me? Am I being tested to see just how much I can withstand? Are you ok? Is all this stress effecting you? I start to talk to you, I now am aware that all of this turmoil must be unsettling for you. I am so sorry that this has not been a peaceful journey for you. I promise I will comfort you when you arrive.
Now Hush Little Baby.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Try To Nest

Image By: Warm Whispers

September 1982

Dear MaryJanes,
There is no diamond that sparkles on my left index finger, a proposal was never made.Yet he and I were wed. Between his own mother's wrath and my old fashion views on pregnancy and responsibility he had no choice. Our wedding gift money was spent on motorcycle accessories, and as we left on his "crotch rocket" VFR750 F motorcycle for our honeymoon, I stood my ground and demanded, "I need to spend a little of the wedding money on a couple of maternity outfits!" Wow, that took guts! For a fairly smart young lady, I sure am stupid about this whole arrangement. I am living in a distorted imaginary world of dreams that if I spoil him and give him all the freedoms he desires, that he will learn to love me. Why wouldn't he? I would make such a good wife. I am faithful and loving, funny and witty, direct and to the point as well as adventurous and spontaneous. Even my 2 previous past "loves" still pursue me in hopes of stepping into his place, even when I am 6 months pregnant with another man's child. So there must be something about me that this man should be able to see in me. And is it me? All this time I am trying to figure out what I am doing wrong, without even a clue as to that maybe this has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with him. I will remain blind to this knowledge for 16 more years.
You are kicking and moving and I am aware that you are here with me but the reality that a little life with soon be breathing air still has not fully embraced me. I don't take any coarse on child birth, nor do I read any books on being pregnant. I will simply wing this whole 9 plus months. We live out in the country, secluded from just about everything except for the few other renters that live within the same horseshoe driveway that we live on. So the days are spent with my dog, Kari. She is my best companion and when I am sick all day and night with nausea, she seems to sense that I need her comfort. On an outing I took the other day I saw a sign at the end of a drive way, it displays my very favorite words, FREE PUPPIES. My car pulled into the drive without hesitation. A new puppy might solve everything, or at least band aide some of my loneliness. The farmer greets me as I open the car door and takes me to see the puppies. But from the corner of my eye, I see the one that will come home with me. She is watching me as if she is waiting to be claimed. Perhaps a left over pup from the last litter? Or maybe the pick of the litter that they intend on keeping? I ask the farmer if the pup in the drive way is available. He seems puzzled that I am not smitten with the new pups. " I would like that pup, could I have her?" I inquire. He hesitates, and then sees that I am already in love with her. How could he say no? He can't, she is now part of my family, her name will be Dagmar.
When I get home your father is on the phone, I let Dagmar down and allow her to make her own entrance. Kari is thrilled to see a new friend and gives a warm and loving welcome. Your father hears that patters of those four little feet and I hear him say, "It sounds like Lisa has brought something home" He doesn't look pleased with me, he gives me a look that maybe my father would have given me. A look that says so many words with out saying a thing. As he gets up and walks outside, she follows him. She stays on his heels as if she might be pleading her case to stay in her new home. She wins him over with her charm, she will get to stay.

image by irenesuchocki
This is the last time I will be able to venture out on my own for the remainder of my pregnancy. My car brakes have failed and so my little yellow car gets parked and your father, though capable, does not replace my brake pads. I often think of the nursery rhyme, Peter, Peter Pumpkin eater, had a wife and couldn't keep her, put her in a pumpkin shell and there he kept her very well.
Now Behave!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Image By Alicebgardens

Dear MaryJanes,

July 1982
I don’t know much about pregnancy. I know I am sick everyday and the doctor has written my work to say that I must take an early maternity leave. I wake up nauseated, my day is consumed with trying to keep any little scrap of food down and my nights are a battle to keep from crying from exhaustion. {a side note: If this were getting me into a size 6 jeans..ok then, but it ain't happening!}
I have not shared my secret of you with my family beyond my sister, Kim. She is just shy of 6 years older than me but so much more mature. Years of practice on her part from being the oldest of us three siblings. She had to be wise beyond her years in order to survive her role in our family.
I am just past 4 months pregnant when the phone rings at the duplex that I have moved into with your father. It is my own father on the other line. My sister has spoken those words, “she’s pregnant.” She has done what she thought needed to be done, tell my secret to my parents. I suppose it is all for the best. I am in denial of what is really taking place. I have no plan in place, no crib, no baby clothes, not even a piece of maternity clothes for myself. I have a six month maternity leave at half my wages, half of not much is very little. So how will I be able to provide for you? Everything that I receive goes to my half of the rental and household expenses. I am clueless as to how much your father is heartless to my condition. I just see it as me paying my way. I don't hold your father accountable for his actions beyond living under the same roof. He makes a very good wage and has allot of fun spending it on himself and any latest boy toys that he might desire. He gets his wallet out for the weekend parties that he attends as well as the motorcycle trips that he escapes on. We have now basically become roommates in a twisted type of "relationship". It is apparent to me that I will need to contribute half of any house hold expenses as well as covering any costs that are involved with your needs. {He was not "ready" for children and for the responsibility, and further more, he really doesn't want any children} I don't see my options, do I have any? Can someone slap me to wake me up and show me what else I can do! I really need direction here because I feel like I am drowning..

My father tells me that they are there for me, that it’s "ok." I wish that this helped, to hear those words I mean. But they are words that don’t weigh much to me. My father raised us to be proud, independent and fend for ourselves. I wont be asking for help. I am certainly too self sufficient centered for this.
I don’t see that my pride gets in the way of your well being. I am too young and foolish for this knowledge. This is something I will later learn is a fault in my personality. I see my life as my situation, I make choices, and I need to be accountable. I just don’t see that being in this on my own is not the right choice for you. I hope you make better choices when you are grown and have your own children. Now Do As I Say, Not As I Do!


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Becoming You

Dear MaryJanes,
It is March 19th 1982 and you were just conceived. I know this for fact, without the consult of a doctor. I am sure of this because I know my own body, and as of right now, I am less than 1 hour pregnant with you.
I am not married, and your father is not the man that I should be with. He is wild and unpredictable and certainly not the settling down sort of guy. I am sorry that I have put you in this position. It is not the life that I had envisioned for one of 5 children that I plan to have in my imaginary life that I will never live. I was suppose to find my soul mate, he would propose on bended knee, we would have a small simple wedding, buy a house to make our home and then start our family. I am suppose to have the white picket fence, stay at home and teach you the ABC’s, bake you cookies and raise you in a loving environment. I was born for this role, everything about me reads like a classic love story. Yet, within a split second I have taken another route. So, ok, I can make this work. You may wonder, did I ever once consider an abortion even as your father made the suggestion? NO! I do not feel it is my business to make that choice for anyone but myself, and for me, this is not an option. You are part of God’s plan for me. I am about to exit my teens and enter my twenties, I live in an efficiency apartment with my dog, and just barely making ends meet, by working full time in a pointless job.
Ok, so first lesson to make sure I let you know:
Life is not a fairy tale and the handsome young prince does not ride up on his white stallion a scoop you up and make your life all dreamy. {and a side note, you really should not ride stallions, a mare or gelding are better choices for riding}
So here you are, growing and preparing to become your own person and how can I teach you to be a successful human when I don’t even know what I am doing? I am still a kid myself. I don’t have life figured out yet, not even close.

I have so many dreams for you, so here is a list of select things I want you to know:

1: Count on yourself! Trust your gut instincts, be a leader and not a follower.
2: You are smart, funny, bright and can achieve anything you set your sights on. I want you to be confident as well as independent and determined. Strive for those things.
3: Adults are just people, they make mistakes, teachers, sales clerks, policeman and politicians all make mistakes and none are better than the other. Don’t ever think you have to follow a narrow path as to what others might expect you too…’s ok to color outside of the lines!
4: Just try it, explore, don’t be afraid of failure. Fear will hold you back from your dreams.
5: Treat others with respect, but don’t let anyone take advantage of you.
6: Find a mate that loves you for exactly who you are, and love them for exactly whom they are, don’t fall in love with someone that needs to be changed or corrected or feels that you need to bend to their likes. Be you.
7: Find out what makes you happy and make your living doing that. Don’t take a job that you dislike, unless it is temporary to help in getting you to your dream job. And keep in mind, money does not equal happiness, happiness is being the person you choose to be and doing what you love to do.
8: Spend time alone, practice alone time, learn to entertain yourself because there will be times when you are alone, and it should be time well spent and enjoyed.
9: Show compassion for others. Life is full of Karma and if you mess up, Karma will kick you flat on your butt.
10: Laugh at your self. Stomp in the puddles, lick the cookie dough from the beaters and stay young at heart.
11: Know that what ever life brings you, I am in your corner. I will be honest with you, encourage you and let you know when you have messed up. The more you show me you are responsible, the more freedoms you will receive. Even though I am young, I know that I am capable of raising you to become a self confident. strong and independent free spirit. So when you grow up, I expect that you will become someone very special! Now Sit Up Straight And Cross Your Legs!