Friday, May 30, 2008
Then there was a series of events that inspired me to want to talk about whiny people and wanting what you've got, rather than getting what you want. But I decided I'd probably unintentionally piss off everyone I know because they'd think it was about them. Because we all have a tendency to overlook the big picture when we are hyper-focused on the teeny tiny crap. And maybe complaining about complainers was somehow...wrong.
But more and more I've been wanting to discuss the elephant in the room, not quite knowing how to do it. I tried, badly, not too long ago to blog about what it is like to be the mom of a kid with an undiagnosed Behavioral Disability, or in someone else's terms, a child with Serious Emotional Disturbances. It was written at a stupid time, when I was fragile and frightened and I was angry and upset when people actually tried to HELP me. Well, the thing is, the Internet can not diagnose my son, or I don't think so anyway. We've been seeing professional psychiatrists for a number of years and well...I just trust them more than random posts from well intentioned people who don't know too much about my child. So lesson learned for me. I decided to put that post back under wraps and never ever discuss it again. Ever.
Except...it fills about 90% of my waking thoughts. And it is an elephant that needs to be discussed. This week a little boy with Asperger's made news all over the US, had folks buzzing everywhere when he was voted out of his class with his teacher leading the way. What makes me the saddest about this story is that people seem to think that either the mistreatment of this child can be justified OR that it is somehow an isolated incident. The sad truth is our children, and I'm referring to those of us with kids who have behavioral disabilities, are possibly the only children that it is seen to be normal and needed to punish regularly for their disabilities. What would you think if a child who suffered from epileptic seizures lost all of her playground privileges for weeks at a time after each seizure? What would we think about a child who had cerebral palsy being seated in a corner facing away from the rest of the class, and telling his parents that it is "preferential seating" for his condition? What if our educational system decided that the best way to mitigate a diabetic child going into insulin shock in the classroom was to suspend him each time it happened? This is the kind of thing we as parents of THESE special needs kids deal with on a regular basis. We begin to feel like our lives are being systematically destroyed, but worse yet, we see their future being systematically destroyed. Help is hard to find, hard to navigate and the waiting lists for everything are getting longer.
Parents need to be able to have a voice. We need to not feel like we should be hiding away somewhere, waiting for the next shoe to drop. If my talking out loud about it here will enable even one person somewhere to know that they are not alone and that there is no shame in parenting one of these amazing and exceptional human beings, it is so worth it.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
One of my very best friends from my box I have known now for about seven years, since her beautiful daughter was just a tiny baby and my eldest was (sob) just toddling. Back in about 2002 we spent a LOT of time chatting on line. I knew amongst her many incredible talents (she is an amazing photographer, a former teacher, a SUPER-mom) she is a writer. It is more than her grasp for mixing words around and making it into a delightful thing to read, it is her ability to dig to try to understand people. There were days while we were chatting that I felt like the star on a Barbra Walters special...because my life experiences actually seemed interesting when I was talking to my girl. The other thing these conversations revealed was that she and I had QUITE a different life experience. In fact, I began to suspect that my newish online friend was actually Mary Poppins undercover. I mean that in a really loving way, but I have to tell you this girl is "practically perfect in every way." She's gorgeous, she has this lovely husband and a perfect beautiful little girl and she seems like she never has done anything stupid. At all. Unlike...erm...anyone else I know.
Which leads me to the reason for this post, one I hope you'll indulge me and her a bit and give us some stories. I like to play online scrabble with this beautiful perfect one. She's a good opponent because she is really smart, and she's also the world's greatest sport, which you know makes playing fun. Anyway, today while playing Scrabble she says to me, "Have you ever been hungover?" She may have heard the snort that came from me, even in the next country to the north, where she lives (that isn't too specific, is it?) She proceeds to tell me that her character in the book she's been working on long and hard is about to wake up with a doozy of hangover wherein some general hilarity can ensue. But there's a little problem...the author hasn't done her research! That's right my Mary Poppins has lived more than 30 some odd years and never ONCE been hung over. She gave me some nonsense about a mortal fear of vomiting, but I know it is because she would never do something that imperfect. I told her I'd share with her some thoughts, but I thought what a good meme idea! Tell Mary Poppins about your worst hangover, send it to me, or link us up in the comments.
I'm buying her a red umbrella as a congratulatory gift when this book hits the shelves.
Monday, May 26, 2008
It started raining about 6:30 last night and by 9:00 we had something truly ugly. The wind whipped and things dropped from the sky. Not the big twisty things, thankfully, but you know, about half of the massive oak in my back yard. Luckily it landed about six feet from my newish car and not quite that far from the house. My trash can wasn't quite so lucky. Of course the children weren't sleeping...and just as the storm started to calm POP...off went all our electricity. I peered nervously from our doorstep to make sure another tree hadn't taken out our individual lines and Mailman Dave who lives two houses to the north assured me that a transformer was out two blocks away. He handed off an extra hand crank lantern that he had just sitting around and patted my two bouncing bundles of nerves that everything would be just fine. Some time later the boys drifted off while I read to them by flashlight. The electricity came on some three hours later which jolted me awake because I honestly had no idea which lights I'd left on.
Needless to say we didn't wake early to meander through our lovely neighborhood. We awoke late, to the magical sounds of chainsaws all around us. I cried a little knowing that my landlord has full intention of felling the entire tree now (what the hell is it with me and trees?) and I took a vow never to love a tree again. Sniff. Then the ex called and said he'd been cut loose early and he was coming to take my boys. So here I am once more. Dammit.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
"Have you declared a major?"
"Have you met his family?"
"You are switching jobs, again?"
"Well it's all fine and good as a hobby, but don't you want something secure?"
"Really, you can't raise a family in this neighborhood, can you?"
"Are you two 'trying' yet?"
"You know every baby needs a brother or sister, right?"
"You aren't going to try for a girl?"
"Are you really going to go back to work? Doesn't that break your heart?"
I'm sure the list could go on and on. You probably have your own personalized list as long as your arm. It is one of the most blatant ways our society inflicts its expectations upon us, in seemingly benign form of polite conversation. Did any of those questions actually end up putting you on a path upon which you couldn't turn back?
I'm embarrassed to say, all of those questions and many more influenced where I ended up today. I don't know if it is normal or if I suffered from an extreme lack of confidence in my youth, but I think I was desperately seeking direction and acceptance. Somewhere in my heart of hearts I thought that there was some wonderful secret to being "normal" and living happily ever after, and that if I could uncover that formula, I would be part of the ones "in the know." It's funny, my girlfriends and I particularly loved a spoof one similarly delusional girl.
So I took these questions as sign posts on my path and I followed them straight down a road that had me on antidepressants, living more or less in a catatonic state, not trusting a single instinct of my own. I plodded dutifully down the path, tripping over branches that I couldn't see, expecting at any moment the path would open into the paradise I'd been struggling toward all these many years.
Instead I found myself plopped right down at the starting line again, or at least something that resembles the starting line...excepting of course that my knees are worse, I have stretch marks a c-section scar, a taste for living with furniture and eating something other than ramen noodles and two bright shiny faces looking at me for their own sign posts. And um, I was pretty sure I was screwed.
It turns out that I wasn't as screwed as I thought I was. In fact, a little do over allowed me to step back and do some evaluation and decide that maybe this time, I would pick my own sign posts. So if you hear someone ask me, "Why aren't you dating yet?" and you hear a sound from me that implies something less than a sincere desire to please the speaker, try not to frown at me too hard. I've gone down that path before. This time, I'm blazing my own.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Elyas, his dad informed me, had been throwing up since 5 a.m., "So, what should I do, because I don't think I have anything I can give him..." These are the moments I'm really glad their father doesn't live in the same house anymore because the me I am today would be thunking him on the forehead rather than rolling my eyes behind his back like I did when we were married. So anyway, I had a retching, clinging, unhappy little person attached to my body by 8:05 and I'd sent my regrets to my day and my boss.
We watched a plethora of shows where young children are entirely too excited about backpacks and cameras, we played some educational programs on the computer, and we snuggled. What we didn't do was eat. I tried, but he refused everything. Finally frustrated I said "Honey, what would you eat for Mommy?" I'm such an idiot, I mean really, who does that?
Of course he wanted ice cream and I didn't have any. And I did have to get to the bank today, which long story short, is how I ended up cleaning, well, you know...yuck with the slightest scent of McDonald's chocolate shake tossed in, out of the back seat of my SUV. And while I did get a good amount of laundry done today, um, the pile still sits in my bedroom.
Some days putting on eyeliner is just a waste, you know?
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Two of them were walks, fundraisers for charity. I did a pretty good job raising money for both of them and I decided no one would actually care if I was there or not, as long as they got the money. I topped off my contributions with an extra $10 and decided to call that good. Now the other two were my problem. One was the swim class I mentioned earlier. I knew their dad would take them but...I really hate missing classes when it is my turn to take them. I'm lucky to be co-parenting with a man who sees sitting through things like this as a parenting privilege, not some form of drudgery. So we are a little competitive when it comes to who gets to go to what. We have on occasion BOTH gone, but I would feel wrong skipping out on the two walks to share time with him, you know? But the OTHER appointment was to pick up something I wanted to buy on Craigslist, which I've been needing. If I didn't show, I was sure my new kitchen table would go to someone else, someone more deserving because they know how to manage their organizer. I called the girl, sweet little thing who is a college student. Why I'm buying furniture from a college student, I'm not sure. When I was in college my kitchen table was my desk...but...anyway. She was adorably ready to switch times with me and I'm quite sure she's going to provide boys from a frat house to load up the Vue for me. So I got to see the first dive into the deep end. And that makes all the juggling worth it.
The thing that made me happy about all of this is I've finally learned, despite my terrible abilities at keeping a calendar, to never say "YES!" But I never say "No." Either. My annoying and completely honest response to nearly everything these days is "Maybe." Is it evil to do this? Maybe. But it works for me, because honestly? I don't know what I'll be doing 20 minutes from now. Oh wait, yeah, the table. Definitely that.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
1. Barb. (smiles) No, I'm not buttering her up for a copy of her book. I already have one thank you very much, and it's autographed ;). You know I read approximately seven billion blogs regularly, but Barb's is special to me. No, wait, BARB is special to me. One Christmas time I was looking for some thing about motherhood and the spirit of Christmas. I was frustrated because I wasn't finding what I was looking for (and lo these many years later, I'll be danged if I can't remember why I was looking for it) when I stumbled across her website and the columns she was writing about her experiences being a mom, and I read this column. Barb and I connected that day in a very meaningful way and she didn't even know I existed. I was a silent adoring fan of hers until she started blogging, and I started commenting. I learned quickly that Barb and I have amazing and funny things in common that almost make me cry when I see them. Today was just one more day for my darling amazing friend to hold up a mirror to me to remind me what I like not only about her, but about myself. In her own post on joy she posted a Youtube video of one of my all time favorite bands playing one of my all time favorite songs. And it gives me such a Joy Rush to share so much with such an amazing woman.
2. Expanding upon that theme, there is this amazing Joy Rush upon looking into the faces of the people I call friends. Occasionally I have that moment that I feel like I should pinch myself, because honestly, how did I get so lucky? Not only is there assortment of amazing and interesting people, from my talented theatre and music friends to the activists and educators and writers and public servants and healers...not to mention the breath taking mamas, but they are just fine people. They are the people who really understand what we talk about in my church, the spirit of life. And I am eternally awed and grateful to be able to call these amazing souls friends.
3. The humor that boils down deep inside the fresh bright little soul that is, Elyas. Tonight as I washed his hair he turned his head at just the wrong moment and ended up completely doused at my hand. He rose up out of the water like a dunked cat sputtering and I lifted a towel to his face...as he pushed his hair up off his little glistening face he locked eyes with me, shaking his head seriously. "I'm sorry, you're fired, man." Then we both laughed until it hurt. He is a person who just glows with good humor. And lucky me, I get to be his mama. Total Joy Rush.
4. If there is a word that could describe my eldest child, it would be tenacity. There are days when you watch this kid dig his heels in to master a skill, read a book, climb a tree, or catch a bug...well he's going to do it. But do you know what really gives me the big Joy Rush? I learn from that tenacity every single day. It boggles my mind that this living breathing smart-as-all-get-out person who is teaching me came from my body into this world. It gives me goose bumps.
5. Well Barb, as I mentioned, posted a video, so I'm going to as well. I know I've told people I really don't like country music, heck I've even defended it in goofy arguments. But Lyle Lovett simply can't be a country musician because, because, well...he's just too cool. And there's that hair. But you see this song gives me a Joy Rush...
I don't know if you have any bears in your life, I don't know if any one's ever seen the bear in you...but if you smile like I do when Lyle reminds us "they just don't come no better than a bear." You know why this song is a Joy Rush for me. I have some seriously wonderful bears that I like to lunch with, and wow it awes me that someone gets it.
6. Daisies. Planting daisies. Looking at daisies, touching them. They fill up a special little corner of my heart.
7. Sometimes I worry that I talk too much about being divorced, that people think I'm obsessing over something negative, but here is a little special secret, just between me, you and the internets. It isn't an obsession with the death of my marriage...it is an obsession with the person I subsequently discovered in my solitude, the woman I found hiding out waiting to shine. I hope it doesn't sound ego-centric, but she totally gives me a Joy Rush. She makes me cry sometimes because I waited so damn long to find her.
8. The way my Scottish boss says my name, the way it was intended to be pronounced.
This face. How can that not make you happy?
There are maybe a million moments every day that have the potential to be a Joy Rush, if only we choose to open ourselves up to them. Maybe the biggest Joy Rush is just slowing down long enough to just catch them as they fly through our fingers. Thanks for reminding me to open my hands, Barb.
If you'd like to, tell me what kinds of Joy Rushes you've been catching lately. I'm sure it will give me another one...totally contagious, this is.
And the rest of you, I love you. So there.
Yes, I did.
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