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postmodernfamilyblog

Multigenerational Mom Muses on Twin Toddlers & Twenty-Something Daughters

Thanksgiving is My Favorite

This week I celebrate my favorite holiday — the one that gets lost between the one that fills buckets with candy and the one that fills stockings with gifts.

Thanksgiving is my favorite because it’s not flashy or fever-pitched. It’s quiet and warm – like a favorite sweater, a cozy fire, the whisper of socked feet on hardwood.

It’s having all my kids under one roof again. It’s hugs and hot toddies, pies in the oven, turkey in the deep fryer, and a heart overflowing with gratitude. It’s being present with all my greatest gifts.

I don’t put my Christmas decorations up until afterwards. (I don’t fault you if you do – if you have a hankering for the twinkly lights and shiny ornaments and stockings all hung by the fireplace with care – I love those too.)

But as this world cranks into hustlier and bustlier gear, I try to slow it down and idle in gratitude for just a bit longer. To celebrate the leaves gathered “round the welcome mat, the feet propped ‘round the coffee table, the throws wrapped ‘round shoulders on the sectional as we sip sherbet punch and coffee and wine.

My girls will be here, and my grandsons too. And their presence is greater than any presents that will soon gather beneath the tree not-yet-up. So I’ll cuddle up with the boys, play sordid board games with the girls, and laugh myself silly while I soak in the sweetness. So much sweetness.

And then… when our hearts and bellies are full to bursting with blessings… then the Christmas Kickoff boxes come out. The ones full to bursting with holiday pajamas and handpicked ornaments and picture books and special treats.

Because then, when the leftovers are lounging in their Tupperware and the lights are low and the candles are lit, then and only then will Christmas be officially underway at the Candela household

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Until Then

Picture this… Mothers and Daughters

Their procreative powers celebrated and valued

Along with

Their minds and voices, acknowledged and revered

— whether child-bearing, child-rearing, bread-winning, globe-setting or game-changing.

Women, not relegated to house and home, but women, free to regulate themselves.

Free to roam. 

It could happen. It still could.

Picture so many women, Mothers and Daughters, 

set to tell their stories. Mothers and Daughters

with stories like mine and hers and theirs. 

Stories ready to be sung out, loud and proud. 

Ready to upset the maelstrom of men and their spheres of control, 

their spears of control,

manipulating stories.

controlling bodies, 

codifying minds. 

Women set to tell their stories unhobbled by laws, unhanged with stigma, unsacrificed on altars, no longer denigrated and diminished.

Picture Mothers and Daughters unlabeled.

Unlabeled as virgins, ladies, cock-teases, cougars, sluts, spinsters, trophy wives, whores, hags. Frigid or loose. Nasty or pure.

Unlabeled. Unhysterical, Unfat, Unskinny, Unugly, Unhot.

Unused and Unabused. 

But no longer UnSung. Singing so many stories.

It could happen. It will. 

That’s where me and my kind come in. The writers, the poets, the instigators.

The storytellers.

We play a fundamental role in the histories of Her Stories. 

We keep the home fires burning, 

Fostering and fueling far more than fires in hearths.

Feeding fires in hearts.

Encouraging stargazing, fire eating, and drops of Jupiter in our hair. 

It’s in our dna, and has been, since the wheel first whetted the knife. Caves first oxidized hands.

And we’ll keep doing it until the reach of our arms and the span of our hips, and the stride of our steps no longer fits the limits of their boxes.

Until our potential is so great, vibrates so powerfully, wells and swells so phenomenally, that their spheres all burst and new worlds are all birthed, new galaxies unfold…

And we all find a place. 

Our place –

– for ourselves and our daughters. 

Until then.

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The Physiological Effects of Football on a Coach’s Wife

fridaynightlights

Football gives me chills. And chest tightness. And tachycardia. And tremors. And hypotension. And breathlessness. And Fatigue. But it’s all good. I promise.

Let me explain…

Yesterday, just after 1:00 PM, I kissed my husband goodbye and watched him head off to the football war room, a scenario we’ve repeated every Sunday afternoon since early August. He strolled purposely down our sidewalk, his bag full of notes on this week’s opposing team’s tendencies slung over his shoulder.As I watched him leave, my chest tightened with pride. It’s Week Two of Georgia High School playoffs. The competition is getting fiercer, so Mike and his fellow defensive coaches burned the midnight oil preparing their game plan.

It’s a mysterious process to me, the deconstruction of an offense. In my fiercely romantic brain, I imagine it’s an exposition closely akin to the annotation and explication of metaphysical poetry. I picture the guys huddled around their Hudl screens, marking up schemes with dexterity and determination, scrutinizing pistol formations and pondering triple options with the same respect and gritty fortitude that I scrutinize syntax and ponder paradox, searching for the key to decipher the cryptic code and whittle it down into chewable chunks.

I’m sure it’s a formidable feat, arduous and time-consuming; always open to interpretation; and painfully exquisite– if that’s your thing. And it is absolutely, positively my guy’s thing. For the past decade, I’ve watched him light up like a Hurricane scoreboard when he talks shop with fellow coaches. Football powwows with people in the know is one of his most intense pleasures.  And I love that he’s found his niche within this fine group of coaching fellows. Perhaps I’m biased, but I truly believe they may be the most amazingly gifted and gracious crew ever to be assembled in the history of high school football.

Watching them from the stands as they interact with their players on Friday nights, tremors of excitement run up and down my spine.  It starts with pregame. I love seeing the boys clustered around their position coaches, going through their drills. The bursts of whistle and muscle; the blur of footballs and footwork; the thud of shoulder pads and practice punts. Pregame gives me shivers.

And then there is the moment at the beginning of every game, just prior to kick off, when the boys and their coaches march evenly out across half the field and kneel. One-hundred-twenty-plus boys of one-hundred-fifty-plus pounds – they all take a knee and give the Lord a moment of silence and respect.

It leaves me breathless.

mikeknee

Then the world speeds back up again. The crowds gather; the cheerleaders chant; the bands play; the lights hum; and the stadium pulses. But just before it all goes down, just before the band plays Amazing Grace and The Star-Spangled Banner, just before the team runs through the tunnel of swirling white smoke and takes the field, just before the scoreboard sounds off and the place kicker blasts off, Mike climbs the stadium steps on his way to the box. And he always stops off to deliver a kiss to me and our boys. Seeing him approach, his chocolate eyes smiling, his caramel skin glowing, his wide, warm shoulders swaying, my heart swells and my knees go weak. I am truly a blessed woman.

Yes, Friday nights give me goosebumps. Good old-fashioned, puckered-up chicken skin. And not because I’m lucky enough to get a pre-game kiss from a tall mug of coaching caramel macchiato. (Although that helps, too.) But because boy, can our boys play some ball. And man, can our men coach ‘em up. There is nothing like a good, crisp, spiral-sliced Friday night.

mike

And now we’ve been blessed with a second week in our playoff run. And I’m praying for another three after this. Another three-and-a-half weeks of single parenthood and lonely bedtimes. The boys and I have this routine down pat. It’s old hat. And we’re in it for the long haul.

So here’s hoping and praying for another four weeks of Sunday War Rooms, Chili Night Wednesday Nights, Friday Night Lights and everything in between. I’m ready for the run. My heart can take it. My body is addicted to the thrilling, physiological effects of really good football. And it’s all good.

 

 

 

 

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Our Postmodern Family

Our Real Modern Family

I’ve been thinking about starting a blog for a while now… I guess ever since we decided to bake up a couple of twins from scratch using borrowed eggs and my forty-seven- year-old oven.  My daughter once called us the “Real Modern Family” – and you know, she’s right.  I’m a Southern woman married to a half-Korean, half-Italian/Slovenian Yankee man twelve years my junior; I have two beautiful twenty-something daughters, an arthritic dappled dachshund and a morbidly obese cat.  And now, after much thought and consideration — and then funding and injections, vaginal suppositories, and appointments — I have started motherhood all over again.  This will be the story of us: our real modern family. Or maybe, more appropriately, our postmodern family.  Postmodern, as in “radical reappraisal.” And our story is, indeed, a radical reappraisal of how to make and nurture a family.

Many things have changed since that summer almost three years ago when we began our in-vitro journey… I will do my best to record current happenings, as well as flashbacks to those glory days of post-modern fertilization, pregnancy pillows, and preeclampsia.  I’m hoping our story will be an inspiration to those battling the frustrations of infertility, to those navigating the beautiful and rugged territory of twindom, and to those who decide to either start a family or do it all over again at a rather ripe age.

Even as I try to type this, I question why I’m doing it. I have nothing special to say. I’m nothing special. I nearly stop before I’ve begun, but then I think… I’m nothing special, true… but I do have something different to offer. I can’t imagine there are too many forty-nine year olds out there lactating. Not too many women out there with twenty-three years difference between their last baby girl and their most recent baby boys, not too many women who, as my father says, “ran the engine and the caboose when it comes to supplying grandchildren.” Not too many women out there who just suffered through a sixteen-month stint of extreme sleep deprivation. If nothing else, I can be a freak show for people to point at and ridicule. Still, I hope I can inspire a few to give postmodern family planning a go.

Family X-Mas 2014

 

 

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Post-Season Football and Family: So Hard, So Worth It

Post season: it’s the toughest season of all. If done right, it’s the equivalent of an extra half-a-season: 5 games, culminating in a trophy and rings.
Again, if done right.
And let’s face it, we want it done right.
And doing it right is far from easy, but always worth it. I have to remind myself of that.

Especially because post season is wrapped up in the most wonderful season of all – the holiday season —and that complicates matters. A lot. It adds about a gazillion stressors to players’ and coaches’ lives alike.


If all goes according to plan, family gatherings will be cut short or missed… family pictures, too. Along with basketball games, wrestling matches, Nutcracker performances, school plays, chorus concerts, bedtimes, holiday movie nights.

So many missed family times… but also, so much family time gained, too.
Because for us, football is family.
And oh, how we love this game.
It’s not the touchdowns and tackles that make our hearts sing with joy and our lungs ache with love (although it certainly doesn’t hurt)…

It’s the players and men out on that field. It’s the knowing them, the loving them, the watching them accomplish tasks they never dreamed they could accomplish.

It’s seeing them forge bonds of brotherhood. Watching them face challenges with passion and confidence. Witnessing them relying on others as much as themselves. Embracing family. Understanding that family is strength and family is love and family is a powerful, moving force.It’s never easy. But it’s also always worth it.

Nobody moves mountain alone. Nobody wins at football or at life, alone. That takes commitment and common ground, and hard work, and family.

Over the next few weeks and for the rest of their lives, these players and coaches can accomplish great things because they know and understand the importance of family. Because they are members of the best family of all: the Canes Football Family.

Come on, Fam!! Let’s do this hard thing!!

OUR TOWN 💜💛

I’ve written before about our town. About the love I have for her. About her people and her spirit, her buildings and her backbone. About how I love her church bells chiming happily on Sunday mornings from my back porch and the home crowd cheering heartily on Friday nights from my perch in Weinman Stadium.

Cartersville is not just a great hometown, she’s the best hometown.

And even though she doesn’t have to prove herself as such, week in and week out, she does it anyway. She rises to the top, like cream… like Cane Sugar. Is that even a thing? Well, I say it is because the heart and soul of C’ville rose to the occasion this past week for those of our community in need.

It all began on Sunday night, when announcements were posted in emails and voicemails and on social media: a food drive was underway. And yes, while this happens every year once the leaves and temps start turning in our town, this time, we truly showed out.

This time, Sam Jones Methodist Church’s “It’s Scary to be Hungry” annual campaign, in conjunction with Pritchard Injury Firm and the city schools, collected over 6000 cans in just five days. The fifth day culminated in “Blackout Hunger Day” and the Blackout Game on Friday Night under the lights in Weinman Stadium.

Our schools and our community and our CANES delivered — proving once again that Cartersville is not just a great town it’s the BEST town.

It’s our town — and good gracious, does our town know how to be the BEST!
(Photo cred: Sports Furnace Athletics DrRuss21)

If Reading Dies our Truths will Die Too

People don’t read much anymore. I’ve known it for a long while, but this year, it’s hit me especially hard because even my AP Lit kids don’t want to read. Even them. They brag to me about never having read a book in high school. To me. Their teacher. And they’re proud of it.

And me, I’m sad about it; damn near sick about it.

I’ve tried and tried to reach them, but they only want to socialize and see what’s on TikTok and Snapchat. They can’t have access to their phones, so they’ve decided I can’t have access to their minds. I’ve used a gazillion approaches, so many projects, so many competitions. They refuse to yield. I refuse to give up. But I am growing desperate. I know what’s at stake.

So, for the month of October, I’m trying a unit filled entirely with short stories we’ll read together in class. A captive audience is a more accessible audience. At least, I hope so.

I plan to hook them with dark and twisty tried-and-trues at first: Edgar Alan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Joyce Carol Oates’ “Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Alice Walker’s “The Flowers.” Then a couple of newcomers to add insult to injury: Stephen King’s “Strawberry Spring.” Dantiel Moniz’s “Exotics.”

Then, after they’re hooked and horrified, I’ll gut them with Ken Leiu’s “The Paper Menagerie.” (If you haven’t read it yet, read it now. It’s available online. But beware: it’ll leave you sobbing in snot-soaked shirt sleeves.)

Which is my goal: to demonstrate the power of literature so that maybe after I’m through, they’ll get it.

They’ll understand why reading matters. How fiction exists to show us how to live — and how not to live. How fiction shows us our truths — the good, the bad, and the ugly — inside our hearts.

But if reading dies, then good fiction, truth-telling fiction, will cease to exist and we’ll be left with the fictions of Instagram, snapchat and tiktok — the fiction that teaches nothing but falsehoods through filtered, fragments, all the real sliced away from the reels. Illusion masquerading as life.

If reading is lost… we will be lost.

I believe this much to be true.

Here in the Apple-Picking Fall

I’m a big believer in The Great Pumpkin. In nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

In golden light and golden hours. In seizing sunsets as the days grow shorter, when the coolness creeps in…

It’s the best time to live.

Get rid of the bullshit, the hypocrisy, the shifting, shiftless, gossiping gangs with curled lips and flapping tongues,

and motives materializing in the mist behind every “Hello.” (If they even say hello before the “Can you…?”)

Nope. 

Give me real women, with liberal amounts of authenticity. With spice, and spitfire, and gumption and ample amounts of wine (but no whine).

And definitely no fall in line.

Obedience is overrated.

If we’re gonna fall, fall free.

With wills of our own.

Feisty Witches. 

Apple-picking Eves. 

We know what we want and get it for our selves.

And the men we choose, if we choose them, snag apples too. Freely with fervor.

So drop the fig leaves and pretenses.

Celebrate your charms, cast your spells

Seize your solstice and make your mark.

Invite starry nights and moonshine into your life. Mushrooms and a touch of madness— even a hint of melancholy, too — to fully appreciate life

Here in the Apple Picking Fall.

Blessings and Prayer Requests

What a blessing to spend two months with my adult daughter. Two months! 

It’s been years since I’ve had that much time with her — since her college days at UGA. But then, this hiatus between her fellowship graduation and her attending job at Miami’s Sylvester Cancer Center happened. And it’s been wonderful.

She’s had two months of just lying low and recovering from the years of studying and training and operating and researching and testing and interviewing and traveling.

Two months to veg out on the sofa with some guilty-pleasure-TV and our sweet cat, Twyla. Two months to spoil her little brothers with coconuts and car-rider pick-ups.

Two months to sip coffee and wine with her mother and watch Friday night football to cheer on her stepdad and the Purple Hurricanes.

Two months to find a week here, a weekend, there to visit extended family or putter around in a boat on the bay.

Two months to catch up with friends for drinks and strolls, to take in a couple of concerts, to watch a parade. Two months to just settle her soul and find her center.

Which is a good thing because now she’s leaving her hometown Hurricanes and driving headlong into two more: the University of Miami Hurricanes and Hurricane Ian.

The first, she’s well equipped to handle. She’s got the skill and experience and know-how under her white coat to handle anything the U’s Hurricanes throw at her.

The second… well, this one’s a bit more daunting. It’s projected to be a category 4 by the time it hits landfall on Tuesday or Wednesday. And there are soooo many questions and concerns involving this one.

Where will the eye hit? Will there be gas available in Florida as she travels? Will phone lines stay up? Power stay on? Will her pod be delivered? Her movers show up? Her other deliveries remain on schedule?

My girl is a strong, independent woman. Absolutely she is. But this is a daunting endeavor, even with an entire support system in place. And she has just herself… so it’s nerve wracking for her.

But if she could also have your prayers — if you would kindly send some up for her — I would be ever-so-thankful. Prayers for her safety and smooth sailing.

And believe it or not, I am calm about this situation. I feel peace about this journey. It’s a peace that passes understanding — because I believe in the power of prayer, and I believe she can do this hard thing – as long as she’s got some assistance from her guardian angel, the Almighty… and you.

So I would appreciate your prayers on her behalf, please and thank you.

Tired and Worn Down

I’m tired. I’m so worn down.

Waking up at 5:30 AM and working nine hours a day at school, then throwing together sandwiches or quesadillas or crackers and pepperoni because it’s all we have time for before burning the rubber off my tires for the boys’ activities…

Monday: football and theater.

Tuesday: piano and football. 

Wednesday: dance. 

Thursday: dance and theater and football. 

Friday: Friday Night football. 

Saturday: any and all random responsibilities of the not regularly scheduled variety. But thankfully, my husband is here. The father of my sons. My go-to guy. He’s here to help on Saturdays.

And then Sundays. Salvation Day. Napping days. Because, y’all. I’m slap worn out.

And I see nothing but years and years and then more years of this insane schedule, multiplied.

Lordy, it makes me want to go curl up in a ball and stay there – which is how I used to cope with overwhelming stress, back before my boys and after my girls. After my girls were grown and my responsibilities were less, I would go to bed at 7 pm and not get up again for at least 12 hours. It gave me a recharge so I could maintain the course.

But I don’t have that luxury anymore. More than 6 hours of sleep is hard to come by.

And I know I’m throwing myself a pity party. I know I’ll be fine after a nice long Sunday afternoon nap and a glass or two of wine.

But I need to know: Am I the only one like me? (Well, probably the only one who’s 56 with twin 8 year-old boys and a football-coaching husband, but still…)

I know I’m not the only one burning candles at both ends and feeling frayed and frazzled with an FU filter threatening to fail.  

So what do y’all do? How do you find inner peace when your energy has melted into a roiling thermonuclear core threatening to collapse and there’s really no end in sight? When doing less is absolutely not an option?

No, like, really.

How do you handle it?

Seasonal Flings

Summer loves hard.

She’s one big blowsy display of shameless desire. 

All torrid days and steamy nights.

Leaving her victims slicked with sweat and stained in fluids,

Aching and flush with fever.

But she’s fickle and fast 

and before long, she’s plotted her leave. 

Toying and trying,

Running hot, throwing shade.

Her lovers blanch and grow sallow.

Vines redden with rage.

And petals, they sag and they sigh.

We’re spent.

And she is too. 

Nothing but a seasonal fling. We’re ditched.

She crushes us like spices —

Nutmeg, paprika, saffron and clove —

Ground to the ground in her wake,

The dusty detritus of a hard ride 

With a hot wench.

Still, we wear our bruises like badges of valor, 

eggplant and oxblood, ochre and rust,

as she rides into the sunset.

And Autumn rolls in, 

tossing gold at our feet

like tokens of affection

Wiser now, we think:

Here’s a cooler kind of love, 

So we climb back in the ring 

To take another swing

Gluttons for a pretty face

and a fast ride. 

At the center of it all— at a distance

I have an aunt I haven’t seen in years. She and my uncle divorced when my girls were small, before my grandmother died (she died when Bethany was four). So my girls don’t really know her. But me, I do. I love her and I miss her.

She was always the quiet, bookish sort. Sort of like me — or I like to think so.

When things got too crazy with our clan, she’d stir up a cup of tea and head to a back bedroom to read. She was steady and calm as a ship moving through the tumultuous seas of our family gatherings.

Now when I say “tumultuous” I mean in a good way. With kids spinning like water spouts in every direction, high-kicking at doorframes to see who could tap the top with their toes, or swirling in a whirlwind of tufted midcentury armchair mechanics as a pump organ clanged thunderously in a corner.

Where physicists gathered like the male version of Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters, heads touching like storm clouds above a coffee table, posturing this and theorizing that, formulas drawn quick as lightning across fragments of paper, igniting frenzied animation on bearded or bespectacled faces.

As high-tinkling laughter drifted in on warm currents of baked pie crusts from the kitchen where my other three aunts gathered, two at the red formica table, one sipping Tab, the other waxing poetic over Mozart or their 20-pound Maine Coon. The third, apron ties flapping in concert with the sticky percussion of her heels on linoleum both tacky in aesthetic and feel, issuing orders to pour this, wash that, to the older of us cousins. Well, to me. Because the second oldest was the one clanging away on the pump organ while the third and fourth were out there spinning like water spouts with the youngest among us.

Meanwhile, my unflappable aunt sailed in and out of the tribal typhoon, warm as a beam of God-light, regal, composed on her way to a back berth with her tea cup and book.

She’s who I longed to be, but have never quite been able to become. I don’t have her genetics. I don’t have that certain je ne sais quoi. I’ll never know what it is, nor know how to posses it, her well-coiffed confidence; her cool, sweet nature. She’s the crem de la crem.

But I do have her love of reading and her desire to disconnect from the chaos. Well, I do and I don’t. Because I secretly harbor a distinct love of the chaos too. I wish to always be in the center of it all, while also maintaining my distance.

Things have changed drastically in the passing years. We cousins are grown and our children are grown (or mostly). So our kids’ kids (along with my mid-life medical miracle additions) are now spinning like water spouts and kicking at doorframes, but not at family gatherings. We haven’t had an extended one in a while. Not since Covid hit. And when we do finally get back together, two of us won’t be here to gather… my father-physicist and one Tab-sipping aunt.

In spirit, though, they hover about me daily, feeding me love and the language to tell their stories. To tell our stories.

Because life is short and limited. That’s the ugly part – but also what makes life so beautiful and precious.

And the older we get, the faster life spins — kind of like that mid-century armchair from my childhood. Only now it’s a mid-century merry-go-round of time’s making and I’m at the center of it all — and at a distance, thanks to Covid.

Which just goes to show you’ve got to always be careful what you wish for.

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