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Posts Tagged ‘children’

When my son was in the sixth grade, he had a girlfriend. Like most romances that take place in the sixth grade, it was short-lived… it ended when his “I want to break up” note got to her before her “I want to break up” note got to him.

In the sixth grade, that’s the way the world spins — sometimes predictable and rotating calming, sometimes spinning wildly and madly.

A few days after the “break up”, he came to me upset. The grandmother of the young girl had sent him a private message on Facebook, in it she wrote that she was disappointed in him, she expected better from him, she couldn’t believe he had broken her grand-daughters heart. As I read this message from her, that I doubt would have ever come to life had it not been for this feeling of anonymity that we get typing from our keyboards — we say things through our computers that we would never imagine saying face to face, we behave differently… the computer lends itself to an air of “make-believe”, but that’s another story for another day, as I read this message to my son, in the sixth grade, from a little girls grandmother, my blood boiled with an anger that, I believe, only erupts in a few people on a few occasions — this was my occasion.

I was angry.

I was livid.

I was ready to gnash my teeth and bear my claws.

But, I paused and looked at him, his round sixth grade boyish face, frightened and upset that this adult, who he didn’t know, was now disappointed in him. It’s easy to see confusion racing through the mind of a sixth grade boy, they don’t cloak their feelings, it’s there, in their eyes. I told him that this woman was upset and it had nothing to do with him. I told him to forward me any other messages he got from her. I told him I would take care of it. Of course, to him, this meant I was going to track this grandmother down and drop her with a quick and decisive punch to the kidneys (in my mind, this is what I did and it was spectacular) — I assured him, everything would be fine.

I sent the grandmother a reply and let her know that what she had done was not okay. I reminded her that these were sixth graders, I reminded her my son was a real person and not some imaginary being she could chastise from the safety of her keyboard — I made my point and she apologized, repeatedly.

It wasn’t Mother’s Day when this happened, it was just a day — maybe it was a Tuesday or Saturday, maybe it was January or maybe May. It was a day, a day when I was not necessarily a mother, but a caring person, a caring woman.

Mother’s Day is a time when I find myself in an emotional limbo — I don’t fit in with the daughters who are mourning the memories of their mothers, I don’t fit in with the daughters who are celebrating with their mothers. I don’t know where I belong on this continuum of mourning and happiness. I hope to fit in with all the women who provide nurturing and caring, kindness and strength, the women who listen and who respond — you don’t have to give birth to someone to care and respect and show compassion for them.

My children see me triumph and fail, they see me laugh and cry, they see me angry and compassionate — and from that they grow, we grow. Not just one day a year, but every day. I hope that my children never find confusion in Mother’s Day, that they never feel the loss or the burden of this day that comes around just once a year. Every day our battles are fought and sometimes won, every day we choose to hold someone’s heart, gently — as we spin wildly, and madly.

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the shape I take
watching you navigate this weary world,
jumping over blocked paths,
cartwheeling around a sea of naysayers.

an old tree in the backyard,
once it was second base and now

it stretches out for you…
twisting and distorting its extended branches
reaching for you…

but never grabbing hold.

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I watch you,
staring so intently at the collection of toys you sculpted out of clay.
each one had your full attention,
each one felt the love of all your heart,
each one created by the bliss that lies in your mind.
I hope you have that forever.
I hope you never lose passion for things that matter.
I hope you always lose yourself in those creations.

I watch you,
your eyes sing a song the whole world can hear.
each glance takes a brick from the wall around my heart,
each glimmer reveals my lovely world,
each look brings me closer to understanding love.
I hope you see the world through those eyes.
I hope you never lose sight of your own perspective.
I hope you look in the mirror and smile at the reflection.

when the mountains in the distance scare you
… just climb them.
when the song seems to have no rhythm
… just sing it.
when the ocean looks too deep
… just swim it.
when life overwhelms you
… just live it.

I watch you,
your voice rolls sweetly across my ears.
each call of my name hangs in the air,
each laugh shakes the world free from doubt,
each question you ask has a million perfect answers.
I hope you hear your thoughts in a crowded conversation.
I hope you never listen to that voice that tries to quiet you.
I hope the story you tell will find the perfect audience.

I watch you,
my arms stretch out but know to grasp you loosely,
each breath I take leaves me hoping for another,
each thought I have is peaceful in its chaos.
each tick of the clock comes faster than I want.
I hope you take the path that calls for all your courage.
I hope you never stand still when the dance floor needs you.
I hope you leap and know your wings have always been there.

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This is the final poem in the series of three that I am sharing this week, each poem is about one of my children. This one is about my youngest. If you haven’t had a chance to read, “this is about you”, about my oldest, and, “my man”, about my son, then please take a few minutes and read them now.

I go into your room first, always… in the morning.

That’s how I start the day.

It’s so cold out now and so dark, no sun for a while still.

I look at you, your body lying in a position of complete restfulness… I wonder about your dreams.

I can see you, glowing from the lights reflecting off the butterflies draped across your closet. Your cheeks are pink and full, your nose turned up just so, your lips pouty, your breath is deep and constant.

I can see the baby I used to hold while I did everything that needed to be done because that’s what you do when you have kids. I walked around with you so I could feel your breath and hear your heartbeat and we were one person…

I know a day will come when you read these poems and these stories and you’ll wonder about the mother that you’re looking at and the mother whose words are on the page in front of you and you’ll see that they’re the same and you’ll ask me what I was writing about because you’ll be older and you will see reflections of pain and angst and friendships and evolution and you’ll ask me, “what’s it all about?”

I’ll hesitate, because I’m not sure which parts to tell you and which parts to keep for myself because we should all keep a few things for ourselves so I look at you… a woman who can see into my soul because my soul is your soul and I tell you that I was learning to live.

Then you’ll smile because you understand that, all of it, all of the words scrambled on these pages are me learning to live my life out loud, learning to understand the evolution of us… the complicated beings, learning to know love.

But, right now, I see the lights from the butterflies reflecting across your cheeks and I bend down low to your bed and I hover just above your face so that I can breathe in your breath, our noses touch and your lips curl into a crooked smile. I touch my lips softly to your upturned nose and I whisper… barely making a sound, “mommy loves you”, and your eyes slowly open and you flop your arms around my neck and beg for one more minute and I say okay because I need one more minute too. One more minute to look at you… in the morning.

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This is the second poem of the three I’ll be publishing this week. You can find the first one, “this is about you”, here. If you haven’t read it, I hope you will after you read this one… this one is for my son.

.

You’re taller than me now,

you stand there and laugh as your eyes are able to look down on me.

I step back and remind you that I’m still older, I’m still in charge.

We laugh.

You sit next to me on my bed and tell me to listen to that song, the one I don’t understand the words to, the one I know if I tell you I don’t understand the words to you’ll walk away and I’ll be counted as just another parent who doesn’t understand… so I listen, and I smile, and I sway to the rhythm and we share that moment.

I know these moments will become fewer, these times when you jump on my bed and want to share your music and your books and your YouTube videos that I don’t understand either and so for now I don’t dare move off this bed.

I look at you and I see the man you’ll be, he’s already shown himself in this teenage form that he now occupies. He stands up in class and assertively tells the teacher she’s being a bigot, he gets in between the big kid on the bus who’s picking on the little kid on the bus, he tells that girl she’s pretty and he likes her. The man you will become has already introduced himself to me.

I wonder how you got so brave, how you became so fierce and fearless in just 13 years. I think about how much you teach me, how I feel more fierce when you tell me your stories because I think a part of me must be in you… a part of me must be beating in your soul, making you fierce. I think I must have some of that in me too so I breathe in deep and I face whatever comes… because you showed me how.

I dread the day when you bring that girl home… the one who sees the man you are, my man. The one who climbs into your heart and nudges me out-of-the-way… just a bit. I’ll smile anyway — I’ll share that space… your heart can expand so wide and I’ll be comfortable there in that corner and I’ll continue to take up space, even when we’re far apart.

I know this because right now, when you come sit next to me on my bed and you tell me to listen to your new favorite song — I will. I’ll stay right there in that moment and I won’t care if the phone rings or if my email dings or if the perfect poem is forming in my head… I’ll stay next to you and I’ll sway to the rhythm and we’ll smile at each other without saying a word and I’ll breathe in the stillness of that moment… claiming my corner of your heart.

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… because you’re going to hear that whistle one day,

You’re going to hear it and it will sound different,

it will scream at you, it will plead with you, it will sing to you, it will laugh with you and it will turn its back on you.

“Hop on or lie down?”, it says as it rushes past, I know, I heard it too. It will never slow down to hear your reply… it already knows.

… but this is not about me and what I hear, this is not about the sounds that keep me awake at night. This is about the voice of that boy whispering, “I love you”, in the dark of the night and this is about the test that kept you up worrying and this is about your friend who stopped talking to you when she saw the way you looked at her boyfriend and this is about all the sleepless nights you have yet experienced — this is about you, my precious baby.

… because your phone will run out of battery one night,

the night you need it the most,

the night you pick it up to call me.

I’ll be waiting on the other end but my phone will never ring. I’ll look at the silence trickling off of it and I’ll wonder… I’ll get in my car because I’ll know where you are because we talk like that and you’ll see me driving up and you’ll scream at me in front of your friends but when you get in the car your screams will turn to tears of relief because I could hear you through the unused phone and then you’ll switch the radio in mid-cry as you gasp for more air to let it all out and The Maine will be on and we’ll start singing along and when we get home I’ll hear you skyping with your friends about how your “old” mom listens to The Maine and The Decemberists and all of your music and you’ll smile when your friends tell you you have a great mom because you don’t see me in the hallway,

… but this isn’t about me. This isn’t about the unanswered calls I made and the tears of anger I cried. This is about you. This is about that whistle that will call for you in the dark of the night.

“Hop on or lie down?”

… because your friends will push you to think,

your friends will dare you to move and not all of them will want you to move in the right direction, not all of them will push you to see yourself the way they do. You will have to hear them yourself, my precious baby. You will have to make those choices yourself.

They will compel you to lie and laugh and run and skip and yell and curse and they will watch you stand on that edge… looking, deciding.

They will love you and they will hate you and they will leave you and they will return to you.

They will throw life at you and hope you’re ready because there are no do-over’s.

Your friends will be your world when you think I’m not around.

That whistle will reverberate on your eardrums covering up my voice,

“Hop on or lie down?”

You’ll say, “everything is fine”, but I’ll know it’s not.

You’ll say, “leave me alone”, when I know you need me to sit.

You’ll scream at me and curse me and wish for me to leave…

But I’ll know.

I’ll know you hear that whistle.

“Hop on or lie down?”

But today, today my precious baby.

I hold you and you let me and I see the future because it’s already my past and I’ll beg you to hear me,

I’ll beg you to listen to me because I made those mistakes already and I walked that road already and I lost all my inhibitions around that bonfire and I danced naked in the middle of that house and I pulled my hand back the first time it was slapped and I stood on those tracks and I screamed to be heard… already.

I’ll yell for you to “hop on the fucking train!”

This time, you’ll listen. You’ll stop… and you’ll listen.

This time, you’ll say, “my mother warned me about that whistle in the night.” And you’ll look down at your phone and it’s fully charged but you don’t need to use it, you don’t need to call for me. And I’ll be looking at my phone too but it won’t ring.

And I’ll smile.

And I’ll stretch out my fingers as far as I can but I’ll never be able to grasp on…

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For my children. who remind me everyday that love never runs out…

… and in the final analysis,

I will always care too much,

I will always say too many words,

I will always try one more time.

… and in the final analysis,

I will always come back,

I will always hope,

I will always see the happy ending.

There is this love tank,

it is running on fumes,

it is gasping for more,

it is holding on to what it has left.

There is this love tank,

it is scared to keep giving it away,

it needs just a bit of hope,

it needs to see the light of day.

I will love.

I will think.

I will breathe.

I will…

I will.

… and in the final analysis,

I will always wish for more,

I will always stretch for the top,

I will always remember to live.

… and in the final analysis,

I will always love,

I will always hope,

I will always shine,

… and in the final analysis,

I will always care too much.

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I’ve been remembering an image that brings me to my knees with sorrow and pain and worry and longing and dread. The picture of his face has been prevalent in my mind for the last several days — I don’t know why. Perhaps a story I read, a video I watched, a memory that won’t go away.

When my father was in the hospital for the last time, a few days had passed since he had been flown by life-flight — he was stable and coherent and… alive, he was alive. The doctor made arrangements to meet with the whole family to discuss his case — in a waiting room down the hall from my father’s room. I thought this was odd that the doctor wouldn’t include my father in this discussion… I didn’t think it should be a mystery to my dad. The waiting room was filled when the doctor arrived and we all watched him and waited. He explained that my father was alive but it was only temporary, he would die. In a few days, in a week, at some point in the near future, he would die.

I can remember when I was about 7 or 8 years old, there had been a couple of significant deaths in my family at that point — death was a mystery and it was scary and it was unknown. But… it made the people who were alive so sad, so alone, so lost. I would lay in my bed at night and cry thinking about my own death, cry silently and think about death and how scared I was of it. It was the unknown. It was the sadness. It was the finality. I would lay there thinking… I wanted out of that particular journey.

It’s occurred to me recently… my fear is not of death. My fear is not about the unknown. My fear is not about leaving people behind… they will carry on when my time comes (hopefully when I’m 103), just like I’ve carried on when I’ve watched someone I love take their last breath. But, I think, I’m more afraid of what will be left. Who will comfort the people I love when I can’t anymore? Who will take away their sadness? Who will make them red velvet cake and buy new tires for their car and give them financial advice and talk about books and call on their birthday and hug them… who will hug them?

After the doctor was through talking to us about how my father was going to die, my mother and I went into his room and sat down. He never looked at me. His gaze remained on my mother the whole time. His lip quivered in that way it does when we are just about to cry and the thought of crying is taking over our face and our body and we can’t control it. His eyes were red and bloodshot with tears that he was trying so desperately to not let fall down his cheeks. His hand reached out for hers. And there we all sat, in silence — pondering an imminent death.

I remember that look and his quivering lip. I remember thinking he was afraid and there was nothing I could do. I remember thinking I just wanted to opt out of that particular journey. But… that option didn’t exist, so I was there…until the end, in every moment. And I sometimes fear my children will one day be standing over me, seeing my quivering lip, wishing they could comfort me — not knowing what to say, pondering an imminent death. I wonder if they’ll wish they could opt out of that particular journey. I’ll want to tell them to stay there, in the moment… every step of their journey, because sometimes the journey seems too hard and sometimes I scream at the top of my thoughts, “I want out!” — but the mystery of this journey looks better when I stay connected to it, unveiling it myself — a little at a time.

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In the midst of a moment of longing and strife

I open my spirit to the heart of life

Bidding fond farewell to the same old same

I leap with abandon into the game ~~ Peter Matineau

So, I had kind of a crappy day Friday. It started out with an early morning drive to get my oldest to softball practice (at 6:30 — in the morning!). As the day carried on… there was a policeman, some failed brake lights, a difficult “clearing the air” session, a spilled water bottle, an empty gas tank, and a stomach balled up in an awful nervous mess. I guess we can all expect crappy days once in a while. An emotionally difficult couple of weeks was coming to an end and I was hoping for some type of resolution — I actually think a resolution started to form… that’s something.

It started earlier Thursday with a facebook note exchange with a friend from high school. He sent the kindest note saying he had read my blog and thought it was nice. Of course, this sent me off in the best of moods. He wrote back later and said he had read the whole thing — the whole thing — and that he had a revelation he wanted to share. I was intrigued and waited anxiously for the revelation note — then it came. I won’t share the contents of it here with you, but when I was reading the note, it made me frustrated and mad and sad and finally… shocked me into tears (it was a great story). My take-away from the story he so carefully crafted was… trust. He entered into a situation where he had no trust or confidence in someone but over time, he learned to trust that person and more so, his own decisions.

My last couple of weeks have been filled with disappointment, anger, heartbreak, love, random acts of kindness, and growth. My Friday alone held all of these things — one day which seemed to last forever. A lot can happen in a day. Friday ended with a wonderful conversation with my oldest daughter about boyfriends and girlfriends and school and teachers and boys (some more) and music and movies and books. I ended the night by coming here — to this blog that has given me a voice it seems. It has given me a way of putting all my flaws out here in the ether for all to see. So last night, I gathered my flaws and put them in a post here — one I’ll never hit the publish button on. It was too personal and perhaps revealed too much (everything is not blog worthy). But still, it’s here. Keeping watch over me. Letting me know it’s just one push of the publish button away.

I’ve written about many things on this blog — sad things, mournful things, nostalgic things, mad things, happy things, kind things, mean things. I’ve written them here always in an attempt to learn and do better. I think I’ve never tried to write about things here that make me seem perfect or enlightened or in more of a positive light than I am in reality. But, I had a post in mind that I wanted to do very badly. It involved film and still shots and editing and great music and graphics. I wanted to film my day at the fair with my children. I wanted you to see my perfect world and my perfect children and my perfect life. But of course, it was not to be. Mainly because… my world isn’t perfect. I lost someone’s trust recently. And when you lose trust you lose your ability to talk and share and learn from each other because there’s always the possibility that your words will not be believed. Not such a perfect world.

Trust.

My children trust that I will get them to school on time, they trust that I’ll have their clothes ready and their lunches — they trust me. My family trusts that they can call me and I’ll help. The people I work with trust that I’ll do my job and do it in a kick-ass manner. But when you lose the trust of a friend… where does that leave you? Well, for me, it left me here… writing a post that I’ll never publish — wishing for the beginning of a new day. Which brings me to this:

We all woke up bright and early ready to hit the midway. My youngest awoke with a cough and the sniffles — I ignored it. Everyone showered and readied themselves, except for my youngest who had curled up in my bed while I got dressed. She told me she was sick and couldn’t go to the fair. No — this couldn’t be… my movie.

I laid out her clothes and instructed her to get dressed — this would be our last chance to get to the fair (and my movie to show my perfect world). I prodded her to get ready — then it dawned on me, she didn’t feel well. I retraced my steps where I went wrong in this exchange. I wanted to make my movie to put here on this blog to show you all my perfect world. Instead, my daughter was sick. I put her pajamas back on her, gave her some Sprite, and she was back asleep within minutes.

My world is perfect – for me. I don’t need to create perfect children or perfect days or perfect friends. I have all of those things in the messiest of versions. And I wonder, how often do bloggers attempt to show their life as one filled with champagne and movie premiers instead of the mess that bogs us down in this life?

I guess the mess can be found here, as I sit in my room watching it get later and later, watching my chances of making the perfect blog video slip away… watching my daughter sleep — curled up in my bed as I type about my messy imperfect world.

I don’t know what the rest of the day will hold. Perhaps making a movie at the fair, perhaps watching a movie here, perhaps sitting here watching my daughter sleep. Whatever happens, it will be my perfect messy world. And I’ll be here — working on building the trust… and all that stuff.

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I spanked my oldest daughter when she was about 2 1/2 years old. She’s 14 now… I remember it well. She was having a terrible fit late at night and wouldn’t stay in her bed. She would not stop crying due to her not getting what she wanted at the time — a pop-tart. I warned her to stop many times. I counted to 3. I walked away. I ignored. I become frustrated at her screams and I spanked her. She stopped screaming but the look of disbelief on her face floored me. The look of distrust sent chills through my body.

I’m not opposed to spanking — you parent your way, I’ll parent mine. But, for me, I began to realize many things that could possibly be going through that 2 1/2 year olds mind. She was angry and I tried to stop her anger with a jolt of pain. She was upset and I tried to stop her from being upset with a jolt of pain. She was sad and I tried to stop her sad with a jolt of pain. It affected me deeply, still to this day. Love is complicated. Love is raw. Love is endearing and breathtaking and overcoming and welcoming and overbearing and needed — love is needed. But, love isn’t a jolt of pain.

I think I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery or on a path of self-evaluation or something that sounds really deep and zen and kumbaya. I’ve had friends tell me about their journey’s to self-evaluation and it truly seemed like they were enlightened and informed and better at life now for taking on such a journey. When I thought that I too could possibly have ventured down this path, I was really excited — really. I thought if I came out just half the person that my friend’s had come out of their journey then I would be complete and whole and loved and even better… liked. I actually think I am all of those things to a certain degree — perhaps not to the degree that I think is enough… in my un-enlightened mind.

I really like love. I’m not sure I love love but it’s safe to say that I really like it. I like the way it looks and I like the way it sounds and I like the way it feels and I like the way it comforts. I’ve always liked love a lot. I’ve loved in my life — I still love. My children, my parents, my brother and sisters and nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins and… you get the point. I have friends that I love, I know love. I’m not unaware of its allure — I usually opt to stay on the fringes of it though. Until I began this whole journey to self-discovery/self-evaluation — things change when you least expect them to. As of late I’ve loved fast and fierce and hard. A friend of mine left a comment here a few posts ago and she said, “…you love so hard.” I was confused at this statement for a bit. I reread the post and I reread the comment and it dawned on me that this person, who seemingly knows very little about me… knew me very well.

I love so hard because I know how it feels to love and be loved and what a wonderful feeling it is. I love so hard because it lives in me and in my life and in my house and in my children. I love so hard because I want the people I love to feel it, I want it to warm them. I love so hard because if I try to keep it all inside of me, I will burst with its joy. I love so hard because that is what matters — in this life, love matters.

I haven’t spanked my children since that time, so many years ago. I don’t coddle them or make excuses for them… they are often in need of discipline and I am often giving it to them — but, I don’t spank them. For me, it was like saying, “… you’re mad? Here’s some pain to go with that, how are you now?” I’m certain love should never be accompanied by pain… not pain we can avoid. So… I continue on my journey. I continue to figure out this life I lead. I continue to love and I expect love in return — I don’t think that’s too much to ask, because… I do love so hard.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love — Mother Teresa



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