April 10, 2013

I want to devour the unborn.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 7:38 pm by openendedcomment

I recently ran across a post written by a server at a diner. She was writing about a conversation she’d had with a customer at her restaurant.  She walked up to a mother and her son, age approximately eight, and asked what they’d like.  Boy “I will devour the unborn!”  Silence…silence as this was delivered in the voice only an eight year old male has the ability to produce, high, clear and authoritative.  The entire place went silent.  The mother, looking up at her server with utter humiliation quietly stated “Eggs.  He wants eggs.”

Oh, honey, I’ve been there.

My children have all embarrassed the hell out of me to varying degrees.  It’s as though it is part of the job description of a child  “make your parents want to crawl under a rock.  Preferably at top volume.”  The honest child is the reason for the alcoholic mother.  I’m sure of it.  And today, thinking of that mother’s horror, I thought I’d share some of my little beast’s greatest hits.

Girl Child, at age six, had golden ringlets that reached to her waist.  She had (has) the biggest blue eyes known to man.  On this day as we walked into a Kentucky Fried Chicken  to pick up dinner (my husband’s favorite, don’t judge) she was wearing a pink princess dress, tutu and all…the picture of innocence.  Until she opened her mouth.  In front of us in line was a very, very large woman.  As in Jillian Michaels may not even be able to help large.  Said woman ordered a great deal of food.  My angel, in her angel voice at top volume (it always is when these things happen) said “Mom?  Mom, I thought fat people weren’t supposed to eat fried food!  Why is that fat lady eating fried chicken if she’s so fat?”  Oh. My. God. I wanted to sink into the f-ing floor. I couldn’t run, Atilla the Chicken Eater had already turned around and was glaring at me…so I did my best to stammer an apology, turned to devil-wears-tutus and said “Honey, it’s not your place or anyone’s to tell someone what to eat.  And baby, you know better than to make comments about people’s looks.  It isn’t polite.”   I then looked at my watch, exclaimed “Oh!  We’re late!” walked out, drove to another KFC, got dinner and went home…because honest to God I couldn’t stand there another second.

This same little angel, not a month later, was at the grocery store with me.  A very large (as in body-builder large) man was in the female sanitary aisle.  Now, to me this means this guy is boyfriend of the year.  My daughter rewarded his stellar behavior with the following: As I grabbed my tampax, my dearest girl called out to him “Hi!”…she was darling, and he smiled back.  The she said, all in short order with no pause and in a very serious tone “why are you looking at tampons?  Tampons are only for ladies.  My Mommy says so.  Are you a lady?  You have man clothes, but you do have big lady boobies.  Are you just a big lady? Some men want to be ladies.  I saw it on the TV at my Nana’s house.  Do you want to be a lady?  Is that why you buy tampons?”  OH SH!T.  I stammered (something I’ve gotten good at doing) “Baby, it’s, ummm, it’s not polite to ask people about what they’re buying.”  Mouthed an “I’m so, so sorry” to He-Man and bolted for the register.

Fast forward a year.  You’d think I would be smart enough to never, ever go anywhere in public with children, but sometimes life necessitates it.  My youngest was five.  We took him to a Vikings Football game.  My husband brought him to the restroom, at the Metrodome this is pretty much a large metal trough, and returned fifteen minutes later practically in tears.  As my husband told me through clenched teeth on our way home, the boy approached the trough, dad informed him that he shouldn’t drop his jeans all the way to his ankles as the floor was dirty.  Baby OCD looked around the restroom and demanded to know “Who peed on the floor?!  Which of you peed on the floor?! Are you animals?!”  I share this part as it’s how he got the entire restroom’s attention before dad quieted him down, got him to ready, aim fire and all was well…until a man took position next to him.  Apparently, this guy was Ron Jeremy’s long-lost brother.  The five-year old was impressed.  “Wow!  That’s a HUGE penis! Dad!  You have got to see this penis!  I thought yours was the biggest ever but this is HUGE!  It’s so much bigger than yours!  Dad, look!”  Now, my poor husband couldn’t just run away, his five-year old was in there, mid-stream.  He couldn’t do anything but stand there and whisper “I’m not looking at his penis.  Damn it, hurry up.  Hurry.  Up.  Now.”  Our dear son would not be swayed, he persisted “But, Dad!  It’s the biggest penis ever!  Hurry before he’s done!”  He couldn’t grab the boy and bail, the boy’s pants were down.  He had to endure the other twenty guys laughing themselves sick, wait for baby boy to finish, wash hands and walk away bringing him to me, who was then told the story of the huge penis by our dear son, at top volume…to the delight of everyone in our section.   I married a saint.  This is proven by the fact that our youngest has been allowed to celebrate five more birthdays.

There are dozens of other examples of my children’s mission to murder us…death by humiliation…but three should do for one post.  Remember, the next time you see/hear a terrible child, remember there is a parent wishing they could run and hide…and have some sympathy.

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April 9, 2013

A four letter word.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 12:53 pm by openendedcomment

Snow.  I hate that word right now.  Like…hate.  I detest, loathe and despise that s-word.  Today marks the seventh month of winter in Minnesota.  Mother Nature is giving us the middle finger, people I love are going through Hell, my life is chaos and I’m foul…but instead of dwelling on all the crap, I thought that at least for today, I’d try to look on the bright side…find the good.  I need the good right now and when I write things down, they tend to be more “true” or at least seem this way.  It’s worth a shot.

We are going to get several inches of snow.  Bright side: it’s raining before the snow, and we need rain.  I’m getting more wear out of my winter clothing.  Even brighter side, I started my summer-prep workouts four weeks late this year.  My arms aren’t tank-ready and as it appears I’ll have until June before the weather requires a tank top, much less a t-shirt, I’m actually right on track.  Oh, and no sun-burns…not yet.  I can and do burn in 60 degree April within about twenty minutes.  I wear sunscreen everyday and it never matters…I’m still going to fry.  This is also a less sun damage and wrinkles kind of bright side and when you’re on the wrong end of 35, that’s a really big deal.

I never see my husband because he works insane hours and I have to handle 99% of what goes on at home.  Bright side: We don’t fight much because when we do see each other, those petty things don’t seem to matter.  His working this way also means that he feels fulfilled and I’m thankful he finally has a career he can be proud of on all levels.  I also get to take care of things around here my own way, which I actually prefer, no matter how much it annoys me day-to-day.  Bonus bright side:  Bonuses.

I have no social life because I am always driving my children around to sports, friends, sports, school, dates and sports.  Bright side:  I have four healthy and active children.  I’m on the tail-end of this mom-chauffeur thing and I know that I’ll miss it all…someday.  Everyone says so.  Then again, they all also said that childbirth was “a good kind of pain” and that once I got through the two and three-year old phase it would get easier…so we’ll see.

Speaking of children, they have, all four in their own way, been a challenge these past few months.  Bright side: So far, challenges met.  Note to God, Karma, the World: This is not a challenge/dare to make it harder.  Brighter still, I’m pretty sure that based on how we’ve addressed these issues, we’ll be in a better place with each of them in short order.

This past year I’ve been re-examining my relationships with people.  I’ve lost a few along the way.  Bright side: I offered forgiveness and asked for it from the people and situations I needed.  Some worked out, others didn’t, and in the end at least I know I’ve done what I can do.  No more loose ends and way less drama.  Good things.

I’m sure that within a few weeks I’ll be back to complaining.  I know that so many have such larger problems…so many near and dear to me are dealing with things far, far worse.  I hate that I can’t fix it for them and that right now I don’t even know how to make it easier.  I get that I don’t really have the right to complain.  That said, I know I will.  In a month or two I’ll be dying of heat, sun-burned, annoyed that all I do is drive around and work and someone will have royally ticked me off and I’ll fall back into my whining ways…but for today, it’s all about the positive.  And that’s all any of us can really expect, right?  One day and one moment at a time, to enjoy what we can and we what we have…even if today that is the forecast for a foot of snow in April.

April 1, 2013

Special Lies.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 1:23 pm by openendedcomment

You ask how old they are, because that is what people do.  I say 16, 13, 12 and 10.

“Oh cool!  You have a driver!”

And now I say that no, I don’t.  He has special needs and he doesn’t drive.  You are silent, or quickly tell me about someone else’s child who is now “fine.”  Which isn’t the same thing.  At all.

Or I lie and avoid it.

I have learned to lie.

You ask what’s “Wrong” with him

And I tell you he has Aspergers Syndrome (because it’s the one people have heard of) and you say “Oh! I know about that! So he has social issues but he’s really smart.”

I lie.

It’s not that simple.

He also has severe learning disabilities, ADHD, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and sometimes, he hears voices. But that’s too much and too personal for casual conversation so I say “sort of”

I lie.

When you meet my family and say “So, a big sister and three little brothers”  I quietly correct you that he is the eldest.  And you say “Oh, I just assumed…”

I say “it’s OK.  Honest mistake.”

I lie.

It isn’t OK, he’s going to cry himself asleep tonight or destroy something of hers.  Maybe both.  Because he doesn’t know how to take it and even though it isn’t her fault, he’s going to blame her for being “normal”

Or take it out on his brother, who has lost trophies and awards and friends.  Because he is afflicted by normalcy, too.

You try to do the “right” thing and tell me how lucky we are to have such a special and great kid and how our other children are being taught so much by him being a part of our family.

I lie.

When most of it is right and mostly I agree, that we are lucky, his parents,  I lie that they are lucky.  They aren’t.  They’re lucky to have him and they love him and wouldn’t ever want to be without him, but they aren’t lucky that we are always fighting the next battle which means spending more money and losing more time.  This means they aren’t getting to go skiing or be in hockey over the summer, or have friends over when he’s having a hard time, or go on the vacation we wish we could take or attend a camp, the money and the time goes to get and give him the help he needs.  Something that sounds and when written seems trivial but to kids this is a big deal. It isn’t even kind of fair to them.  It isn’t lucky for them when we’re so stressed we barely speak for days on end because we don’t know how to get to a place where there can be calm and peace in our home when chaos lives here each day with no warning as to when it will come roaring back…in some new awful way.  Lucky would be to have him and also have a break.  Or at least a warning when the “other guy” is on his way.  No such luck.

When you say that you don’t know how I “do it all”

And I tell you “It’s nothing”

I lie.

I don’t “do it all” I do what I can and what I can control, mainly because there is so damn much I have no control over.

When you say “Well, maybe you just need to….”

And I smile and agree or act like I’m paying attention

I lie.

You saw one weekend or one day or one hour of “good” and you have no idea what the other side is like.  He is Jekyll and Hyde and you’ve met but one.  So no, your advice doesn’t really mean anything to me.

When you say “but he seems normal enough, it can’t be that bad.”

I lie.

I spare us both, and I lie.

And yes, there are things that would and could be so very much worse and I remain blessed to have him and all of them each day…but there are times

Times when knowing I and we are blessed and that I should treasure each moment and endeavor to teach them all about unconditional love and acceptance, times when knowing it and feeling it don’t always agree…times when he and sometimes they ask me why this is the way it is and when he will be “better” and what more I can do to help him, when I don’t know that there is more to do that I am capable of…and still have the strength hold the rest together.

Months and days and hours of hurt and pain that a parent who can’t make it all go away feels and still has to explain…

When all I can do is lie.

March 22, 2013

There is nothing “Second” about it

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 12:41 pm by openendedcomment

I know not everyone who reads my blog agrees with me on this issue. OK. But for those that do and for those that aren’t totally sure about the entirety of the issues at hand, this is an amazing video to watch, listen…really actually listen to…and share.

This young man had heard that many opposing same-sex marriage often state the “sanctity” of a biological mother and father in the home is the ideal family. Now, I have my own very personal reasons for calling BS on this. Namely the fact that my ex-husband, my daughter’s biological father, tried to kill me (as in with his hands, not by being a run-of-the-mill jerk) and has had no interest in my daughter for eleven of her thirteen years of life.  Her dad, my husband, has been her dad since she was five and is absolutely better for her and with her than her biological father.  There is also the case of my step-sons, whose biological mother…well…I’d better not. Suffice to say she is not much better.

Anyway, I digress. Some of these “pro-family” types have been running around stating that adoption is a “second-rate” family. Biological is always best. This ticked off the amazing young man in this video. You see, he is adopted. By his dads, who love him unconditionally and are doing their best to raise a good man. You know…like parents do. He took it upon himself to pen a letter to Justice Roberts and his parents, impressed, posted this video to their blog. Which is also pretty awesome.

Watch it. I’m pretty sure you’ll agree that regardless of your personal beliefs on the issue, there isn’t one damn thing about this young man that is “Second” rate.

March 19, 2013

A departure.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:19 am by openendedcomment

A new Pope was installed today.  As a woman who was raised as Catholic, this should be an important day for me.  It should be a day to embrace my faith and feel more connected to my church and to God.  I know this intellectually but emotionally and spiritually, I feel only confusion…detachment and sorrow.  I want to believe and I do believe in God and in the basics but in the church itself…in and for that I feel only loss.

This Pope embraces care of the poorest among us, he is a scientist and a Jesuit.  He believes in furthering education and humility.  These  are all wonderful things.  He spoke of and has acted on purging the church of the sins of its leaders.  That is a good thing too, and high time.  Today he spoke of love.  Love for those who most need it and love for those who least deserve it.  That is exactly what I have waited for the church to speak of and to act upon.  I ought to be eleated…but I am not.  I am not because though he spoke of love he remains firmly rooted in the archaic notions of women’s role being minimal at best and in women having no place in the church’s leadership.  He is traditional (in the sense of the church) in his stance on reproductive rights and even birth control.  Perhaps hardest for me is that he, together with the church’s leadership, remain resolute in their opinions and teachings on homosexuality.

I can’t agree.  I can understand that these are the church’s teachings, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why.  I’m not talking about other religions who may agree with the Catholic Church on some of these social justice lines, frankly, that isn’t what I’m concerned with.  I am selfishly concerned with my religion and the church I was raised in and more specifically with how on earth I can justify raising my own children as Catholics today.

I’ve asked.  I’ve spoken to priests and to very devout friends.  They’ve all given me the exact same BS lines and quoted the exact same scripture at me what seems like thousands of times.  No matter how often I hear it, I know it is not true.  I know it isn’t true.  The scripture they quote can easily be refuted with another verse in another chapter.  Besides, I do not and have not ever taken the Bible literally.  How can I?  How could anyone with an analytical and developed mind?  Knowing the Bible has been written and rewritten for political purposes over a millennium with entire sections removed and added for various reasons…knowing that the original disciples, the original priests and leaders of the church were allowed to marry and that women did have a larger role in the church for centuries until someone decided they didn’t…how could I?  And this is just the New Testament.  The Old Testament is clearly up for interpretation.  Please, please don’t comment on this part with any “Adam and Eve” stuff here.  I mean, really.  If Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, how did Cain and Abel procreate without committing incest?  If you truly belive that “traditional” marriage is between one man and one woman because “the Bible says so” then please explain why half of the Old Testament had numerous wives. If we’re going straight “traditional” as our guide, then Cody and the Sister Wives are our model and…well…please let’s not agree on that, OK?  And why and how on earth is it that the exact same scripture used to justify this hatred was used to justify laws prohibiting inter-racial marriages?  Look it up.  Exact. Same. Scripture.  Frankly, I’m offended.  I believe that God is offended.  The Bible and God’s teachings are those of love.  To use bits and pieces to promote hate is antithetical to Christianity and it makes me sick.  Further, if abortion and birth control are so wrong, why did the church assist with birth control (granted it was rather crude in form, but still happened) for women for centuries right up until the nineteenth when it became a social issue?  C’mon people…get some new material.

I want to raise my children with religion.  I want them to have the peace and knowledge that I do, that there is a God and there was a Son.  That their conscience is more than a conscience and that the traditions of communion and confession are important and true.  That said, I will raise good people.  I will raise children that believe in forgiveness over judgement.  People that understand tolerance and justice on a far deeper level than they know bigotry and hate.  I want to provide the world with four individuals who know how to question and think for themselves while rooted in firm and unshakeable values…and knowing what I know and hearing what I have heard from this place I used to find such comfort, I no longer know how to provide that for them.

And I need to.

They miss the ceremony and the tradition.  Sometimes I do, too.  We walked out of a mass several months ago when a deacon took to the pulpit and eschewed hatred and judgement for many that I love and millions who should find comfort rather than persecution in the arms of God.  I took one look at my four babies and knew in that instant I could not allow them to hear such things.  That even though I had always explained our family’s feelings on the issues after a mass, that by having them exposed in any form to such outrageous statements while telling them to “believe” was inexcusable as a parent.  So we walked.  It’s been bothering me ever since and today, of all days, I miss my church.  In writing this I can understand that I miss the idea of my church…of what I thought it to be for so many years.  I miss the comfort I found as I kneeled and prayed, enveloped by a sense of tradition and the teachings of Christ that I had chosen to acknowledge…of redemption and of love and of charity and peace.  New beginnings and eternal life.  I know that I will never go back, not the way I once was.  I don’t know what I am anymore, clearly not Catholic.  Not really.  To continue to identify as one seems unfair to those that actually are and a departure from what I know in my heart to be right.  I know that for my children I will have to find something different.  A compromise of what I know to be true and what I believe they need in their lives.  I will likely always cross myself and carry my rosary.  I will never waver from fish on Fridays.  As a family, we will still pray before dinner and still say the Hail Mary at the graves of those we love and lost.  I will find something new, someday.  In the meantime, for the church of my childhood and my grandparents, I will pray.  I will go again to the Basilica of Saint Mary and I will kneel before Our Mother and light a candle the way I have hundreds if not thousands of times before.  I will quietly ask that she bless me on this journey, secure in the knowledge I gained at the feet of Father Milano, that no matter what I am taught or told in my life and regardless of by whom, if I take the Spirit as my guide and listen in reflection to the truth of my conscience, I will be on the right path.

And for today, at this moment of what may be great change but still not great enough, my path is away.

December 14, 2012

The Catalyst.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 pm by openendedcomment

This is not going to be a popular post and at this point I just don’t care.  I can’t change what occurs in every other household but I can damn well make decisions in my own regarding my own family and my own children when it comes to something I know to be true to the very fiber of my being.

For months now my husband and I have made the decision that in this home and for our four children, violence is not tolerated, not allowed and not welcomed.  We do not allow them to watch violent movies.  We do not allow violent video games of any sort.  We did meet all sorts of resistance from them when we made this choice but at the end of the day it is not their decision, it is ours.  Just as they are not raising themselves but rather it is we who have the honor and the privilege of raising them,  we are not here to be their best friends but to ensure their safety, health, education and to provide love and guidance whether they like it or not.  We are the parents and that is our role.  Period.

I know that most parents of 9, 11, 13 and 16 year olds allow Halo and Modern Warcraft and all sorts of other games.  I know that almost every single one of their friends play these games.  There was a brief time when we too allowed this.  I justified it with the constant barrage of really, truly amazing parents I know being seemingly fine with it.  Parents with good, no great children that are a part of our lives being allowed to and seeing that they are weren’t affected.  I was an idiot and it ranks right up there with the biggest mistakes I’ve made as a Mother.  Before anyone is overly offended, let me be clear:  Your choices for your children are yours…but mine…mine for mine are just that.  Mine.  My instinct told me no, but societal norm allowed me to say yes and it will take me a long time to forgive myself for that.

Our catalyst was the Aurora, Colorado, massacre.  I watched the news coverage and saw an anchor go from somber reporting of a four-year old killed in her Mother’s arms to a story regarding Lindsay Lohan in under ten seconds.  Within seven hours of the tragedy, she and we moved on.  The headlines on MSNBC and CNN did not last an entire day at the top of the news sites.  They were there, but buried beneath election and celebrity news.  The thought and worse yet the reality that our culture is one in which such soul-crushing pain and violence can be brushed aside within a news cycle is something I can’t comprehend and it boggles my mind that any human being can find this acceptable.  The worst part of this is knowing that children, my children, are being raised in a place and in a mind-set of this kind of life-altering tragedy being commonplace and therefore acceptable…sad, but acceptable.  Painful, but a part of Modern America.  No.  No way am I going to accept that we as a culture can be faced with and can move forward from this kind of thing numb to it all.  How ingrained in our world is the loss of innocent life that we no longer are shocked by it?

I am not a law-maker and I don’t have a time machine.  I can’t change the access to guns and the laws governing them (though I can damn well try to and make a great deal of noise doing so)  I can’t go back in time and raise my children in a place before Columbine…Virginia Tech…Aurora…Oregon…today.  I do not have the ability to raise children who are unaware of such tragedy, who do not accept mass murder of children and “shooter” drills in their school as par for the course.  No matter how much I wish and regret that it is so, no matter that is actually sickens me that this is the case, there is not a damn thing I can do to keep them from accepting this as a part of life.  But I can do something.  I have to do something.  At the very least I may endeavor to maintain any shred of innocence they may have left, these children of mine.  I can hold them closer to childhood, a place this fear should never touch. I can do my utmost to allow them to feel outrage, shock and pain at an act which is the very definition of these things.  I can do that by not exposing them to blood, murder, death and the ending of life on a daily basis through games…winning by the kill…for it is not a game.  It is not entertainment.  It is not normal.  It is not even tolerable and it is not something that anyone, especially a child should be numb to.  To allow it to be so is a tragedy unlike any other imaginable.  To stand idly by and believe that constant exposure to violent death will not affect young minds is, to me, inane at best.  Of course if affects them.  Everything they hear, see, taste and touch affects them.  Why do we attempt to instill our values in our children if not to have them live those values?  Why do we speak to them of love and tolerance and friendship if that is not what we wish?  And if that is true how do we go from that to having them run off to the basement or their rooms to gleefully slaughter enemy soldiers in a virtual world and then fail to see the sickening irony of it all?  And no,  I do not feel that today or any of these  tragedies we have faced in such close proximity are caused by video games or by movies…but the pervasive culture of violence we are raising our children and young adults in can no longer be ignored.  My God, we have got to wake up.

The pain…the unthinkable, unimaginable and overwhelmingly unbearable pain so many are facing tonight and all of the nights to come…I can’t begin to say I understand the depth of this.  I can pray for their healing, pray for it to never happen again.  I can cry and I have cried untold tears this afternoon and evening.  I can feel but I cannot begin to understand.  None of us do and God willing, none will.  It is not the fault of any parent of any child who does these things.  It is not the fault of a game or a movie.  It is not the fault of a law.  But, when so many tragedies continue to occur here and not elsewhere…not to this degree…not with this kind of regularity…when this undeniable truth is faced, it is time we begin to take notice and past time we follow with action.

They are our future.  They are our legacy.  I am not asking any other parent to change their own values and their own rules…that is not my place…I am merely changing my own.  I am doing so because maybe I’m not as alone in this as I think I am.  Maybe I’m not the only parent who has taken this stand her home.  And if I am not, I want you to know that you’re not alone either.  None of us are and maybe, just maybe it’s time we start acting like it.

August 18, 2012

A list well lived.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 8:18 am by openendedcomment

I have always had a journal.  Not always with regularity, but throughout my life I’ve written things down here and there.  My daughter ran across my twelve-year-old self journal last night.  I read though, smiled at the girl I was what seems like lifetimes ago, cringed at the crushes and found one page that made me pause.  The page where I wrote down who and what I would be someday.  Then I went searching through other journals.  I found the same type of entry spanning over thirteen very tumultuous years of my life, the years that formed me.  It struck me that though my goals and dreams changed throughout that time, some of them, the big ones or perhaps more accurately the “true” and soulful ones, remained much the same.  More importantly this exercise of delving into myself brought me to the startling realization that the vast majority of my dreams have actually come true.  It’s that whole “putting it out there” to the universe/energy/God and having it happen (don’t roll your eyes, this has actually worked)…so strange to see in black, blue and the occasional pink ink written in my girlish looping, early twenties driven angled and finally, my own script.  As I share a few with you, please remember that I have always been a voracious reader and went though an English Literature phase for a few years.

Age 12:

Be an actress

Have a mansion

Have two cats, one named “Rhett” one named “Scarlett”

Travel the World

Age 18:

Marry my own Mr. Darcy

Live in my dream home with a rose garden

Be an attorney

Travel the World

Age 21:

Have children, both boys and girls, Boy named “Heath” Girl named “Catherine”

Be a writer

Live in my dream home

Travel the World

Be rich

Age 25:

Get married again, to the right kind of man

Own my own home

Raise Kate to be a wonderful woman

Have more children

Learn to cook French and Italian

Travel the World

Find the right career

Amazing, really.  I am married to a wonderful man who, like Darcy, is rather brooding and can be mistaken for aloof when really he is exceedingly kind and sensitive under the armor he so carefully wears.  I have four beautiful children, three boys, one girl.  She is my Katherine and she is well on her way to being the most breath-taking woman I may ever know.  I am a great cook (if I do say so myself).  I can make home-made pastas, sauces, braciolli, tiramisu,  eclairs, bouef bourguignon and all sorts of things.  I can do some mean Spanish and Creole dishes, too.  I feed them to my family in a lovely home, my dream home, complete with twenty-three rose bushes lining my garden.  I love my job.  I am not an attorney nor am I an actress or writer, but I am good at what I do and an argument could be made that in drafting and presenting sales trainings I sort of do everything I’d planned, just under a different title.  While it is true that I do not have millions in the bank, I am far from poor, and I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams in every way that matters and the money is no longer about the money but rather what it could do for the people I love and their futures.  I do have two cats, but they are named Marvin and Stanley, not Rhett and Scarlett.  I still need to travel and I will travel.  It is the one thing I have always dreamed of doing that I’ve never found the time or resources for and that obviously needs to change.  I wonder, what did you dream of? What do you dream of now?  You wonderful people, many I have never met but who stop by here from time to time to read my nonsensical drafts, what did you wish for your life before life actually happened? Do most people achieve it? Does it change for everyone?  Honestly, I do want to know.

My new list, my thirty-five year old draft of the life I wish to live:

Raise my children well

Have grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Grow old with my husband by my side

Have a pool (I must have something tangible here and I really do want one)

Retire on a boat the way we planned

Keep growing in our careers and enjoying the ride

Travel the World, together.

A post script:  Finding these inspired me to do something for my children.  I’m going to have them write their dreams, both big and small…to give them something to aim for and something to reflect upon one day. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

March 4, 2012

We Salute You.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 5:13 am by openendedcomment

Last night, my husband and I took our eldest two to see “Act of Valor.”  I’d seen the previews and was curious after reading that actual Naval Seals were among the cast. My husband was all in because the previews promised explosions and all sorts of cool “toys.”

Dog was at our neighbor/cousin’s home and Captain America was at a sleep over with a fellow boy-scout.  As we had deemed the absent two too young for the rating,  we took advantage of the opportunity to view said film without having to hire a sitter,

Girl child was not pleased with our decision. She had zero interest in a film dedicated to “boy stuff” and had a huge chip on her shoulder as her plans for the night had fallen through.   Our eldest son, as is his way, was happy to go to/see wherever and whatever Dad thought was a good idea.

Four tickets, four sodas, one extra-large with butter popcorn, three treats, one random twelve-year-old boy trying to pick the Girl up in the concession line, one Dad threatening one twelve-year-old boy later, and we were finally seated.

…two hours passed.  For two hours Girl had stared with rapt attention at something she had never seen before.  Our son, in a total departure from his normal state, was motionless.  My husband, stoic and silent, reached for my hand.

We were, in simplest terms, humbled.  In a silent theatre we wept.  Every. Last. One of Us. Not only my four…the theatre.  Not a dry eye.

We were not moved by the way in which lines were delivered, nor were we blown away by special effects.  It was more pervasive than that.  It was the eyes of the men on that screen who had been there and may go yet again.  It was the simple and staggering courage depicted which spoke more eloquently and stirred our souls in a way no perfectly crafted actor could ever dream to do.

It was real.  It was raw. And even the most jaded pubescent mouth was shut by sheer awe.  They’d had no idea. But then how could they?  They have not known this war, not really.  They’ve been raised with it but have never felt it.  It is not like other wars.

This is not our grandparent’s war. In their time, in their war, almost everyone had an immediate family member that went off to fight for Freedom. In our parent’s war they all had a friend or a cousin who had had a draft number that was too low.  In their wars, all were touched. Today, in our war, that is not the case. Today many of us only know of soldiers.  Today, we see it on the news in a way that makes the fighting, the danger; the sacrifice and the substance seem somehow less real.  Less personal.  My children, until now, knew no-one that had been a part of it all.

Our middle child, Dog,  plays hockey.  My husband coaches.  He is one of three Fathers that do. One is a Doctor and the other a Teacher.  On Tuesday, the Teacher goes to War.  Again. Our children, Dog and his team-mates, it’s as thought they’re not sure how to process this.  They want to send him care packages and videos and emails…and of course we parents will help them to do all three…but Dog has asked some difficult questions, too.  He wants to know that Coach will be safe.  Coach is (thank God) from what I’ve been told, in a very safe area.  I have iterated this to my sweet boy what seems like a million times.  But still, he worries.  He’s never known anyone who went to War and he loves his Coach.  We all love Coach.

Coach is a Father of four.  He is dedicated and driven and has been a blessing to all of our boys over the past two years.  He is a Husband, and his wife is…well, you know those people around whom you just feel…lesser and as though you need to try harder all at the same time?  Not because they say or do anything to make you feel that way, but because you know deep down that they are just a better human being?  She’s that woman.  All you can do is like her.  They were college sweet-hearts. They still hold hands.

He leaves so soon and she is so calm.  My God; they are so good.  Last night, in that silent theatre as names of Seals we have lost since that cruel September Day rolled over the screen, and as the tears fell from my eyes and the eyes of hundreds of strangers around me…the thought was as clear as the New York sky that fateful morning before our world changed.

I owe them so much.

My daughter was 2 that day. My youngest not yet born and my other sons not yet mine. If not for those men; those women…this man…this woman…would I lead the life I live?

I owe them everything. We owe them everything.

My children learned last night.  They were taught a lesson I’ve never had the power to convey. The Girl had a million questions as we filed out of that silent theatre. She was assured that Coach’s role was and is nothing like what she had just seen, as we passed Veterans quietly nodding and whispering to their companions that yes, what they’d just seen was all correct and no, it was not dramatized. If anything, they had chosen not to portray some things that could be hard, for we who do not see with their eyes, to comprehend.

The Eldest, my sweet son who sees only the good in everything around him, he knew somehow how to move through all of the questions swirling through our heads to the thought that rose above them all.  As he passed a man wearing his Navy Hat, leaning on his cane, though he was younger than my husband…”Sir, is it OK if I say thank you?”  He said this shyly; nervous as he raised his hand to a salute.  He is the best of me.

Coach D, if you should ever happen to stumble upon this, we pray for you, we are proud to know you and we salute you.

February 29, 2012

That which we do not speak of.

Posted in Life Lessons tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:23 am by openendedcomment

Today the Father of a co-worker is ending his battle with cancer.

I have never witnessed such grace as that which she has shown in the past weeks leading to this very difficult moment.  She has humbled me with her ability to cope, process and to be a peace. She is unshakeable.

And now I know why.

There is nothing left unsaid.

A few weeks ago my DH and I were watching “Oprah’s Next Chapter”.  Me because I love Oprah and he because the subject of that episode was Governor Chris Christie (and I had the remote).  During it, Oprah asked Governor Christie about the day his Mother passed.  He said she had told him to go to work.  He was stunned and told her it could wait.  Her response? “There’s nothing left unsaid between us.”

How wonderful.  How amazing.  How very, very difficult to accomplish.

Now, I’m close to my parents, all three of them.  There are no major riffs and no issues (at least not that I’m aware of.)  BUT…if, God forbid, they were to leave, can I really say that there is nothing left to speak of?   What about my friends and family?  My husband?  My children?  There is so very, very much left unsaid that I’m afraid I would need a year just to get it all out…if I were to find the courage…which I doubt very much I would.  It dawned on me though, as I sit here wondering what that kind of total acceptance of a life lived must feel like…that I ought to at least try.

I want that.  I think I may even need it.

You see, I have pissed people off my life.  Shocked?  You must not know me.  Welcome.  I assure you, it is very true…Its sort of  a bad habit, like biting your nails, but with more problematic consequences.

The issue isn’t that I’m an inherently controversial person; I’m actually quite the opposite.  I really do try to avoid conflict/fights/issues…unfortunately, when faced with them (as is inevitable in anyone’s life) I tend to not back away from speaking my mind.  Again, shocking, I know.

I can’t stand watching someone I care for suffer and doing nothing about it.  As there are many people I care for, I tend to find myself “doing something about it” more often than perhaps I ought to.  I am also Irish.  And a red-head.  A typical one.  This means I use my words (I remember that being a good thing at one point in my life) and in doing so make my point.  Loudly.  Occasionally with venom.

In my family (5 red-heads and a blonde with a red beard), this is how we solved problems.  We spit it all out, worked it all out and then moved on with a  better understanding of where everyone was at.  In the rest of the world, this appears to be how problems get worse.  Who knew?

Me.  That’s who.  I’ve learned.  I have quite the trail of things left unsaid…the apologies I really do need to make (some I’ve made that went unanswered, others I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my pride to utter…untill now.  I think.  I hope.)  I have things to say to friends.  I have things to say to family.  I have things to say to myself.

I have good things and great things to say.  I have questions I need to answer and some I need to ask.  I have tears to shed and pride to swallow.  I have laughs to be shared and lessons to be imparted both on and to…I have other things as well.

I have things I do not speak of.  I have secrets buried deep and hurts which have been ignored.  Despite the bravado I so often portray…I am not a very open person.  There are so many things I do not mention…so much I don’t let be heard.  I married a man much like me…he is like me but better than me…and he too has much that goes unsaid.  I suppose we all do, in some way and on some subjects…to some people…we all have that which we do not wish to address…that which we are afraid of hurting from or causing hurt as a result of.

So much left unsaid.

In the world of blogs, Facebook, twitter, text, email…in the world we live in where communication has never been more abundant, in this world so filled with the noise of chatter and information from every direction…in this world at this moment the things we not speak of are deafening in their silence.

Perhaps, just maybe…just this once, I could make a wee bit of real noise…just one call…one note.  One message that needs to be received could finally be heard.  My co-worker, this woman I am blessed to know, she is not a loud woman. But her courage to be known is heard above the din.