Cause I Don’t Believe in You Anymore.

It’s amazing when you come face-to-face with your hero.  I wonder if there is anything like having that person who seems larger than life right in front of you.  You can see them, feel their presence, absorb their realness.  I think there is a comfortable infatuation that exists in that moment.

I know I had one that I entertained.  This person was, (and still is) bigger than life.  Their energy  overwhelming, their capability far beyond what most people could ever conceive.  Interestingly, I lived with my hero.  I saw them everyday.  I watched them rise the social scale in school.  I stood in awe as they traveled the world, increased their awareness and education at some of the most prestigious places of learning.  I saw talent ooze out of every pore. I loved them, adored them, and hated them at the same time. And, I wanted what they had.  I figured that if I lived with it, I could emulate it and the world would be at my feet, just like it was for them.

Much of the time, I was tolerated.  Then, I was annoying—-yes, just like any lil sister would be.  Like the puppy that sleeps at my side, I followed and copied and noted all that was done.  I told myself everyday, “If only” then the rest would fall into place and I would have found my niche.

Oddly enough, I did discover along the path that many of the same activities I had seen them perform, I also had  the innate talent.  After all, it was me up in front of a classroom debating the impacts of the social contract on American values–not them.  I remember the first time I qualified for a State competition ( I was a freshman in high school).  I was performing in humor and as a first year student, I nabbed a state superior.  Not the most common thing to do especially since I came from small town SD and was up against seasoned big dogs.  I bopped up to the front when my name was called to accept my trophy and the head of the activities association shook my hand and commented how nice it was to see someone following in their amazingly talented sibling’s footsteps.  Was I ready to repeat all that success?  You bet.

Bullshit.

I never once claimed that success for myself.  Instead, I told myself it was never enough, never big enough, never enough trophies on my shelf.  (there is not one in my home).  There are 2 moments that stand out to me and weirdly, an Adam Levine song, “Wonder” came into play this weekend.

I remember distinctly being at a major tournament my junior year, a tournament where if I did well, I could qualify for nationals.  I was in top form.  My hero was in attendance and we had a tradition of a “walk and talk” before pivotal rounds, this tournament was no different.  Back and forth between speaking event and debate I ran….I walked into finals ready to take it.  I did.  I claimed top spot in my individual event.  BAM!!!  I recall standing in the line of other finalists, waiting for my name to be called….as soon as third place was announced, I knew I had done it (they take the 2 top spots).  Second was called, it wasn’t me.  I had taken first.  I had arrived.  I gathered the plaque and mug in my hand and through tears I looked toward the back of the lunchroom to see my hero standing there, clapping, nodding their head in approval.  I had done it–I had gained the respect of the one who had alluded me. They later said to me, “I had people tell me you were good.  I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself.  You are incredible—damn, you’re really good.” I basked in that–and it kills me to type that memory because tears of loss stream down my face with each word I eek out.

Exactly a year later the tables turned and I was ousted. Lyrics flood my head,

“I still don’t have the reason
And you don’t have the time
And it really makes me wonder
If I ever gave a fuck about you”

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/maroon5/makesmewonder.html

Instead the last line plays in my head: “And it really makes me wonder if you ever gave a F about me.”  At the same tournament a year later, my hero looked me straight in the face, sneered, “I qualified in 2 events my senior year.  Can you do that?  Hell no.  No, you won’t be able to do that, will you?”  These words pounded my brain as I walked into another final round, in a position to repeat my win from the year before….I didn’t qualify in either event.  I was damn close and I lost.  I recall standing in the same line up as the previous year, with the same person in the back of the room…..instead they gloated and shot me the most condescending look I’ve ever received and gave me 2 thumbs down. I was crushed–part of me died in that moment and it will never be resurrected.

I’ve watched the actions of my hero the last few years.  Watched them age, grow into themselves, fumble a bit, fight their way back to where they want to be.  I’ve witnessed them in real life situations and now I shake my head.  I don’t know this person–I wonder if I ever really did–if any of us did.  It really makes me wonder if this is their true nature, to disregard and toss aside human lives like so much discarded trash.  If this is true, did they ever give a F about me?

I have to wrestle with that.  Yet, something stops me.  I looked back down the lyrics list to discover,

“Give me something to believe in
Cause I don’t believe in you anymore
Anymore
I wonder if it even makes a difference,
It even makes a difference to cry. So this is goodbye”

I look at their actions now, listen to speeches they make, glean from what they type–searching for that piece==that peace.  I implore those typed words to give me something to believe in–cause I don’t believe in them anymore.  I don’t believe in that hero anymore.

Maybe after almost 25 years estranged, admitting that I don’t believe in them anymore is the most important first step.  Maybe I don’t have to give a F about them…it’s obvious they do not give a damn about me.  Maybe admitting that allows me a glimpse of what walking away looks like.

I hate this.  I hate looking back at those words, those sentiments seem so detached, so void of the unconditional love I advocate.  I’m not sure I care today.  I might tomorrow, but today, I’ve muddled through so many years locked in silent battle, trying to win the acknowledgment of someone who once held so much of my devotion.  And, it kills me to realize that maybe they never deserved it in the first place.

So, what do you do when you meet your hero face-to-face and they turn out to be not only human, but a rather stinky one at that? What do you do when you discover that their apathy and my reaction to it has almost destroyed me?  How do you say good bye?

Cause I can’t believe in you anymore–Cause I can’t love you anymore.  And today it makes no difference to cry.

 

shalom,

 

 

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23 years, wow.

23 years ago I was walking into the last semester of high school—I was a senior with a whole set of goals, the last 18 weeks of my scholastic career spread before me, but I could never anticipate what those weeks held.

23 years ago my parents received a phone call on Wednesday January 13, 1993 that my grandfather had passed away at the local nursing home.  We had seen him that afternoon and by the time my parents had walked into the house after visiting him, he was gone.  It was quiet and peaceful and I had a sense of finality because he had spent a number of years living with us as we grew up in the country.  Time that my extended family did not necessarily have due to distance and schedules was a gift that my siblings and I shared.  I had had moments fishing and boating with my grandpa, and he was the only grandparent I grew up ever knowing.  He taught me to listen to the tone and sound of the turn signal on a car.  Every one of them has a certain tone that says something, my grandpa’s old rust-colored car said, “Tooth paste, Tooth paste.”  I’ll never forget that and each time that I’m in a new car, I pause and listen to the turn signal, and I smile, remembering my grandpa.  I smile remembering him.

There were other things that took place during that week that have shaped some of my outlooks and relationships since that time, situations that to this day impact my life.

I was involved in competitive speech activities and had been all 3 1/2 half years leading up to this point.  I traveled every weekend to all parts of the state and met incredible people,–teachers and colleagues with whom I have established solid relationships today.  I had some great friends, and maybe some friends who tolerated me more than they should have had to–but I had amazing connections to people and I remain forever grateful for them.  Many have no clue that it was my connection to them and the activity itself that saved my life and I do not say that lightly.  These were people who I could see every weekend, people who whether they liked me or not, at least respected what it was that I did.  I even had a connection to a family member that was tight, it was a relationship  that I trusted and took great pride in having.  Someone thought I was important enough to invest time and energy in me and I was thrilled to have the attention–thrilled that someone like them was willing to spend time with me and thought I had talent and potential.

23 years ago, I lost that connection.

Having the natural dramatic bent that I did (and sometimes still do), I tended to make bigger deals of situations than I necessarily had to–sometimes that can be a win, sometimes it can cost everything.  As the news was revealed that my grandfather had passed, I reached out to a friend who also knew members of my family and speech team.  I revealed the information and requested that if they came across family members that they be kind and aware of the loss.  That one conversation affirmed a loss that proved devastating.

As the week wore on and the weekend of the funeral took place, I opted to travel to the speech competition out-of-town rather than attend the services.  I felt ok about the decision because I knew I had spent time with my grandpa and had seen him often during his years in the nursing home.  I also knew that I would have a family member that I would see.  I saw them, I approached them, I tried to speak to them….I received a brush off.  More than that, I was ignored.  Throughout the whole weekend I attempted to connect and was ignored.  The situation came to a head when I finally confronted them and demanded to know what was going on….I was decimated.  Their words, their obvious contempt and hatred for my existence was spewed forth as they, in full viewing and hearing of passers-by heard them renounce my relation with them.  In anger and rage they ended their connection, respect, relationship, and family link.  To them, I no longer existed.  The reason?  I had vocalized to a mutual friend my grandpa’s death and funeral.  They felt I crossed a line by revealing that information to a person who would have no relation to us.  To them, I was no longer fit to be called a relative.
From that moment on there was no conversation, there was no acknowledging that I existed, there was no admission that I was alive or related to them.  That behavior lasts today.  23 years later, to the random onlooker, if they happened upon us in the same area, there would be no indication that we were related at all.  Those who know us have simply accepted the situation and do not comment.

That moment sent forth a spiral of crap that continued the whole rest of the year.  I had applied to state university and the night of a major speech competition where I narrowly missed a trip to nationals (i had qualified as a junior and was expected to do so again.), I received a letter from that college telling me that I was not accepted.

What?  But, I had a theatre scholarship waiting for me…What do I do now?  I had not gotten into college?  How is that possible?  It was true.  You see, even though my ACT  science and language scores were in the 27-28 range, my math score was a 12.  The disparity in scores was too great for the college to admit me.  I had failed.  I was a failure.

Within 2 months of each other I had lost a grandfather, a brother, my national qualifying award, my college acceptance, and a scholarship.  I was done.  It was one of the hardest few months of my life.  No one knew the full brunt of the blows I had received.  No one knew on my graduation day that I had to go to the college  and talk to the theatre department who then had to talk to the admissions department to admit me.  I squeaked in on a scholarship.  No one knew that as I walked across that stage to accept my diploma that members of my immediate family were not attending my graduation or my reception.

I felt alone and I felt like a failure.  I felt worthless, unpopular, wretched, and undesirable. I felt like giving up more than once and often wished I had had the strength to end my life.

I did not end it.  I tried.  I did not end it.

Instead, I worked my butt off to be more than I thought I could be.  Instead, 23 years later I stand, knowing that I’m here and still fighting.

I never did qualify for nationals a second time.  I did not attend my grandfather’s funeral, and to this day, my relationship with my family member is no better than that fated tournament in January 1993–they still do not acknowledge that I exist as anyone related to them.  Other family members are content to allow that to take place and I can honestly say that as immediate family, we have not been in the same room with one another in over a decade.  More than 10 years have passed since we have been together, and even then it was stilted, awkward, and filled with emotions no one is willing to admit.

23 years later, I am still here.  23 years later, I have graduated from that college and even attained my Master’s Degree.  I have amazing children and a career path that fills me with challenging moments and people who inspire me.  I struggle too, though.

I struggle with relationships that I’ve lost, I wrestle with how much is my fault, what I could have done differently–what I did wrong.  I rack my brain to figure out how to fix it, how to undo what can’t be undone, and ultimately how to let go of decades of hurt.  I don’t have it figured out–not even close.

Here’s the thing though.  I can’t stop fighting and the idea of giving up is never an option.  I got into the college and department that I needed to by making an appearance and letting them see who I was and what I was capable of.  I maintained my degree by working hard and concentrating on those areas in which I excelled.

Above all, I invest.  I invest in people, conversations, and ideas that mean something.  I invest in loving people and letting them know that I do.  I believe that is half the battle.

I had someone tell me the other day that my words were a shining example of being able to lift people up.  I am a firm believer that words–spoken and unspoken are the most powerful tool we have.  I truly believe that words that people hear can destroy or elevate them.  Likewise, I believe that most of the problems we see happening are a direct result of reactions to words that have never been said.  Imagine the hurt of a child who has worked their whole life to win affection from a parent only to never hear that adult tell them, “I love you.  You are an amazing person and I am glad you are my son/daughter.”

Invest.  Invest everything that you are to everyone you know and those things that fill you.  Invest in not giving in….invest in breathing–because sometimes that is all you can do, just breathe.  Invest in making it at least one more day.  Invest in the fact that you are more than crawling into a ball, rocking back and forth in the corner in the fetal position.

Invest in the fact that it can be done.  I know it can.  So far, at 41 I’ve done it.

 

Shalom,

cahl

 

Carpe What Huh?

The recent death of Robin Williams shakes many of us to the core, but to the core of what?  What is at the core that rips us of a blanket of security that shields us like a blanket.  I look at the quotes which have been posted, I posted right along with them.  It was not until I was in the safety of my car this morning, did I pause a moment to mourn.

What?  Why could I possibly have to mourn in the death of a star with whom you have never met, yet was soooo impacted by his story relived on the movie screen.  When we laughingly toss  Carpe Diem around believing somehow we have our crap together. How am I supposed to seize the day when I dread going to school?

What, you?  You have so much going for you>>>>   Ah, you don’t remember or encountered me during some of those hellish years.  I remember I used to walk around the block that our elementary was located.  I remember so many trips around there, singing and talking to myself.  I spun the pourings of my heart, of how I knew that I would never be accepted and that I was somehow “weird”.  I knew from a young age that I would never go to prom, (I wasn’t) or to be asked on a real date (it never happened).  I knew in my heart what I thought was real, was in fact real.

I hated everything about myself.  I used to look in the mirror and tell off the reflection that stared back at me.  I hated her.  I wanted her vanquished, I wanted her dead.  Yup, I said that.  I wanted her dead.

That is so hard to write, some believing that at almost 40 I have it together..I don’t–none of us do.

Honestly if you had told me to Carpe Diem in high school and much of college I would remarked some deprecating slam and “beat them to punch”  I knew they hated me, why not beat them to the punch and throw out the comments as bitingly as possible.  If I could turn it so the response was mine, they could not touch me.  Sure.  I beat em to the punch.  You know what happened?  No one, I mean NO ONE wanted to hang with me.  High school classmates would never invite me to their homes ( that changed a bit my senior year..they were wonderful peeps to me)  Collegiate theatre majors dubbed me weird and cautioned anyone who might be a friend that I was not someone to be accepted.  This did nothing but make me hate that girl in the mirror even more.  Trying like hell to see at least 1 production in which I was cast…it never happened.  I still feel the pangs of hurt and rejection in both those scenarios

I remember my junior year especially, it was a  fairly good year.  I faked most people out and those I didn’t I severed those relationships with a biting  remark that left them shaking their head.  I lost many a friend, I still mourn those people.  Senior year spawned hell in every sense of the word.

I did not qualify for Nationals like I had the year before–gotta do it one more time–  In January I lost the one person I had looked up to and idolized from day 1.  They washed their hands of me, refused to acknowledge my existence.  They were friends with my friends ( the same ones I had severed ties) .  They were so damn talented it sickened me…I knew I would never reach that pinnacle of greatest.  But, damn I tried hard.  With every fail, with every second place finish I hated the girl in the mirror that much more.  I scored up a stash of blades, I wanted to be gone…I stashed them and there are still scars that dot my right and left arm.  I am ambidextrous you see.  I could go both ways.  I had bottles of sleeping pills–I worked at a grocery store, no one thought anything of the purchases I made.  Hell, no one thought much about me anyone..I knew it and it hurt like crazy….still does once in awhile.  I remember the night I had not qualified, almost but not quite.  The general smirk of the one who had seen my victory the previous year now watched me lose.  That one stings badly.  That night I also received a letter from the state college to which I had applied.  It was a letter negating my acceptance into their college.  The work that had to be done just to get me there….Finally a scholarship in theatre was awarded so that I could attend…See, if a dept. offered an incoming freshman a scholarship there was little else the Adminstration  could do to negate it.  In hindsight, I think I got it for the sake of another freshman coming in, talented and pretty–so pretty.  I never ever fit the bill, no matter how I tried.

That night I went outside, sat with my big Labrador (who i had spilled most of my life) and held the massive bottle of aspirin in my hand and the sleeping pills in another.  In a fit of anger, I downed a good share of both of them….then fear hit.  An all consuming fear spread over me…..I still do not know what caused me to throw them up–you see I was a talented Binge and Purger, I knew all about taking care of unwanted food—you throw it up.  There were members of my family who watched me do this…it was not to first time…I lost a lot in those years, years I will never get back as hard as I try.

You see, to declare to a person, Carpe Diem…well, that hurts in a place so deep and dark they can’t explain.  How can I seize the day when I so hated and loathed the person I saw staring back at me?  How can I be  joyous when I hated going to school where there are relationships were cut to the quick so that no one would even talk to me…You see, I did it first before any of them had a chance…I held that manipulation like a banner—ha ha ha ha,  I hurt me first before you even had a chance to…ha hahahahah.  The thing is, I wanted them to hurt as much as I did.  Silly me, it hurts worse than I can imagine.  Sometimes the dark rears its ugly head and I wrestle with depression, loneliness, hurt and self hate.  I often see that girl staring back at me.  I see her amid all the good and wonderful people in my, in those who were watching from afar…(they know who they are), amid a successful career and the beginning of some great connections and respect.  I look at her and wonder…what the hell are they thinking…me?  I dunno.  The dreams that I hold are so jam packed with concepts of redemption and reconciliation are as near and dear to me as breathing…..the writing, the speaking, the moments to speak for those who can’t.

Carpe Pencil?  Seize the pencil?  Write the words, speak….ah, if only I were not so terrified of the person I see in the mirror.  There parts of me that grieve–losses in family, friends, opportunities–(prom–you who giggle probably had a date and the stories from them) I don’t and I knew it all the way back to 3rd grade.  Could I rewind the clock?  Many times I say yes ( and tell the one in the mirror to go to hell, I scream it and pray it transcends to the whole of me), then again I think of all the students I taught, the people I speak with, and those who allow me to journey with them—showing me a glimpse of their reality.  Not sure where I stand ( no pun at all Captain)…that is an ever present fight.

Today instead of Carpe Diem, I challenge us all to say Carpe Rogare!  Seize the Question–How are you,and wait, wait, wait for the answer.  You may be surprised at what you hear.

 

Shalom my friends

That’s Affirmative

I spoke with a wonderful woman a couple months ago who was asking questions about an adopted niece  out there somewhere.  She expressed the desire to try to find her, maybe reconnect her with her mother, (her sister) and develop a relationship with her.  Inwardly I cringed.  I did not cringe because of the heartfelt desire, but about the can of worms that it would open for everyone involved.  I asked her to make sure she understood her own motivations for such a search and to consider the impact it would make on a grown woman who has had no contact with her biological family.  Many intricate strings exist here, for all involved. I have known my whole life that I am adopted and it has never really bothered me.  Kids in school often made remarks that I did not have any “real parents”.  It seems that many think that being adopted means that they don’t have any real parents.  How wrong a belief that is.  The fact is that we do have real parents, we were really born to someone and were given life.  The circumstances for an adoption are as varied as snowflakes that fall.  Hearing statements like that can really mess with a kid’s head, then again–sometimes it doesn’t..I will speak to my experience only.  It is the only story I know, and the only story which I have permission to share.

I know that many speak to the adopting parents experience and many times to the one who is giving the child up for adoption.  Then again, sometimes it is out of the biological parents control.  Few understand, or speak to the adopted child’s point of view.  Few realize that growing up there are real feelings that happen and they tend to stay into adulthood.  Not everyone is aware of that impact, but in studies of the psychological impact of adoption, some real emotions occur. I will speak to my experience only.  It is the only story I know, and the only story which I have permission to share.

Isolation:  Sometimes I feel like I am so different that most people would never understand why I think some things and my reactions to situations.  There are times when I watch families together that I physically ache for something real like that.  People have real connections with the people who REALLY have given birth to them….they are their biological family and thus can feel a tie to them that I will never have.

Loneliness:  It is true that I was adopted and cared for and raised by a set of parents.  I was given rules, guidelines, and opportunities that I would never had had.  I was able to realize what a household with parents and siblings feels like.  There are times though, when feeling different (even though I am not) makes for a lonely spot where I wonder if anyone else understands how I feel.

Affirmation:  This one is the hardest to feel, it is also the hardest to admit.  I am a creative soul, one who observes and feels emotions and the world around me intensely.  I cannot change this no matter how hard I try.  Being involved in speech events, theatre, and writing lends itself to a certain need for affirmation.  At 40, this drives me nuts.  Did I do this well enough?  Was I good enough at this task?  Did I do enough to please someone else?  Am I perfect enough that I won’t lose the relationship I have with this person?  Did I disappoint them so that they will go away, or decide that someone else is better?  Am I good enough to stay in this relationship…will they give me away if I do something wrong?  Can I be perfect enough to stay where I am and feel secure with this person.  Is it safe to love them, to let them love me, and to believe them when they say they care?  What may look like a compliment fishing expedition has little to do with ego stroking and more to do with the safety of that relationship.  If I do this, this, and this….I will get to stay.  If not, I am on my own….separated from the status quo that I understand.  That stability is so vital to my existence.  I know it may not make sense….I wish I could eliminate it, but it is part of who I am.  Missing a comma can throw me into such a moment of self doubt and fear that I will be replaced that I cannot tell others because I do not think they will understand.  Half the time, I do not understand.

Lastly, Wistful Dreaming.  I smile a bit here because like it or not, everyone of us has a dream in our head about what a reunion with our biological parents would be like.  We may never ever admit it to a soul, but the thought has crossed each mind.  The wondering of how they look, what they do, what are they like comes to the surface at least once in our lives.  The lifetime movie concept of running across a room with arms open wide and an easy explanation of circumstances has played before my eyes more than once.  Unfortunately that will never be the case.  I have met mine, know the situation, and know that that type of a reunion will never happen.  I have to be ok with that, and sometimes it is hard to admit that I want more than what I have.  It is hard to admit that the yearn for a “real family” surfaces…I wish it didn’t.  Much like I wish that I did not seek affirmation, I wish the yearn was not so strong.

There it is, the longer and not so short of it.  This is not an exhaustive list, and I have not done near the justice I could do.  Suffice it to say, there will be more observations…more encouragement to those adopting, and more caution for those entering into the world of adoption…Tread carefully and with more love than you ever dream possible.

shalom,

cahl

Anyone? anyone? anyone? (echo, echo echo)

bad mommy

I saw this the other day on my Facebook post.  I laughed initially, until I looked again.  I looked over at my kids…they are great.  They are also human, which means I don’t like them everyday.  Most of the time, they make me smile, laugh, and shake my head in wonder.  Sometimes I watch them, just watching them in their own world, they do not know that I am there.  These are the moments on which I reflect the most.   Moments when they believe no one is looking and I catch a glimpse of the people they are becoming.  Their play and non-verbal demonstrations tell me much about them.

They make me smile, even writing that last sentence about their play made me smile.  HOWEVER, there are moments that I watch them, hear them speak, or notice their interactions and I wonder….who are these people?  Then I cock my head and wonder even more…Who in the WORLD sent these creatures home with me?  I am still only like 15, right?  23 if I am lucky, right?  Who thought is was wise to bundle a wiggly, wrinkled, wailing, humanoid and hand it to me to raise?

Please tell me there are others out there feeling the same way.  I stepped (and still do step) around a cluttered house, believing that if anyone were to drop by, they would call social services based on the status of my livingroom.  I struggled with feeling like I should stay at home, yet yearning for “real” people conversation.  I could not breastfeed my first son, but was able to make enough to bottle.  That lasted until acid reflux for him and exhaustion for me set in and formula was our next step.  Different formula after different formula….ever smelt soy formula in spit up form?  Once is enough.

As young teachers, with little income and bills to catch up, we grudgingly applied and qualified for WIC.  I hung my head the first time I purchased the acceptable groceries.  Here I was, a teacher, pillar of a community and I was relying on something else to help me.  The shame I felt was immense, but the relief I felt to be able to pay off some medical bills incurred during my son’s birth outweighed shame.  No one tells you about those early days…the crying, the screaming, the stages–ear infections, diapers, diapers and the laundry….all piles up and the instances of real thought escapes amidst Baby Beethoven.  AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH.  No one mentions those days.

We only hear the baby smell is incredible, the cooing, giggles, grabbing fingers, and each milestone are out-of-this-world!  Do not get me wrong….These are incredible and can reduce a mom to joyful tears in seconds.  Those are highlights that make you want to capture that moment in time and freeze it….then reality hits as your boy wonder sprays you in the face-again.

We muddle through….another comes along, making room in your heart where you thought for sure there was no way you could love another human being as much as the first.  Again, someone it’s a good idea to send another one home with you.  I guess it would be bad to leave them in the crib at the hospital–right?

Life bumps along and finally you settle into a makeshift routine.  You flip-flop between knowing somehow you are doing an ok job and the utter fear that the children will end up on a counselor’s couch somewhere.

Then, it happens.  Something so unexpected throws a wrench into it all.  Maybe it is a diagnosis, a special need, a situation that erupts into something you never thought possible.  All of those happened in the young age stages of my boys–one in particular.

Ok, I will not concentrate on that.  What I will comment on is….well reality.  We women, we do a number on ourselves and one another.  If it is not comments about what we do or don’t do….what we feed our children (ramen noodles or organic mac-n-cheese) or what programs our children attend. Come upon  a fellow mom in stores (did you know Target or the horrid Wal-Mart is nicest to shop in the wee hours of the night or when bats fly at night?) who look bedraggled and harried, and yet paste on a smile and greet one another warmly.  Probe a little deeper than the famed, “how are you?  (insert giggling hug or kiss on the cheek here) and you’ll see another picture completely.  You’ll see the tired lines, hear the taxi trips  with multiple children (half who are not even hers), watch the posts of gaggles of children beginning the forays into slumber parties and  boy gatherings (they don’t have slumber parties….I dunno, I am just starting here).  Under all that is the question…”Am I the only one feeling such and such?”  Am I the only one too tired at night to do snuggles and prayers?  Tell me there are others so exhausted that the heart is not in to reading one more story or singing one more song, but you do anyway because there may not be another.  Tell me that others worry about friends, clothes, reputation, and whether they will be in a terrible accident.  Comfort me that others watch great grades come in, knowing that character is of far more worth, yet celebrate those accomplishments.  Tell me it’s ok to struggle with wanting them to be at the top, not slipping, yet knowing the “other stuff” is soooooo more important.  Remind me that moms all over fret over soft drinks….and cupcakes for breakfast ( if you tell anyone…..so help me!).  Convince me that it’s ok for a mom to smell jeans to make sure they still have another day left in them and recycling towels from one kid to another to save at least 1 load of laundry.  Funny, I just told my 2 that very statement as I walked in to see 5 wash cloths used, the bathtub full of soapy water, and the rim cluttered with 2 rows of matchbox cars.  Tell me this stage passes…that I will miss it, cause now I don’t believe you.  Forgive me that I want this stage to end, but that I feel guilty knowing this stage WILL pass.

Remind me that I am not alone…remind me that so many more are out there…believing they fumble and bumble and knock over card houses by one wrong step backward–sorry boys. Grab my hand and encourage me that I am not messing them up completely, that if they are already on the counselor couches, that means I am aware enough to know that I do not have it all figured out.  That all my training in pastoral care does not entitle me to counsel my children, but to love them.  Hug me and whisper in my ear that you, too, look  in the mirror and shake your head, praying these wiggly creatures are growing and thriving and will be wonder filled men and women.  Put your arm around my shoulders and offer to take a walk or two down the block, or a hit off the boxed wine in the fridge (moscato….hhhhm).  Tell me it’s ok that someday I want to stop buying consignment for myself and not feel guilty for a Saturday mani/pedi.  Proclaim with me that these wonderful creatures capture my heart, my mind, and my soul–turning my emotions from mush to elation to pits and back again.

Grab the microphone–wherever it may be….tap the top….check to make sure the horrid squeal does not exist….and YELL!!!! HELLO?  Is anyone, Is ANYone, is ANYONE out there?

Yes, yes I am…….

shalom.

cahl

4:34

My son  found a journal I had started some years ago.  It dates back to the time I had my first son, I think though, that it may just apply with any child, anywhere.

    Jolted,  awake, the silence ripped open.  I squint, trying to read the numbers on the clock.  They glare red, 4:34 am.  Inwardly, i groan, pull back the covers that held me in dreams just moments ago.  What started as slight whimpering increases in intensity as time ticks.

I pause, straining my ears to hear if whimper give way to sleep.  No sound, I sigh and relax.  Too late, I waited too long, cries split the stillness, amplified by the hour and its lateness.

Void of glasses or contacts, I stumble toward his room. making a quick pit stop.  I take fifteen quick seconds to myself and will him to wait only a moment to two more.

     Retrieving the bottle left in the warmer from the last go around, I am thankful for 2 items:  the light from the overhead stove and organization.  Without them, cries would soon develop into screams.

I wander into his room and make my way to the crib.  A nightlight given to him by his grandmother shine softly to guide me while a CD his father made plays in the background.  “O Come all Ye Faithful” does not sound so out-of-place at this hour.  I smile faintly.

Wrapped in yellow he flails his arms, waiting for security once again.  He whimpers, then quiets as he sees I am near.  Scooping him in my arms, we travel to the livingroom floor where wet becomes dry and I try to snuggle him once more.

It’s a makeshift cocoon and I figure if he feels safe, he won’t mind so much how the blanket looks as it swaddles him.  Settled in our chair, I cuddle him close, he squirms, anticipating the bottle he is sure is coming,

He sighs as I place it within his reach and I feel his whole body relax.  Eyes grow droopy and his breathing softens, he is at peace.  Sated from this feeding we burp and I rock slowly.  I remind myself to take a mental picture, moments like this are too few.  Head propped on my shoulder, he dozes, I rest my cheek against his and I listen.

The house comes alive at times like these. The ticking of the clock, a lone car drives by, the family dog resettling for a nap all reveal themselves.  Against his cheek I feel the smooth of baby skin, cool to the touch.  A slight movement of my shoulder and I discover he is smiling.   Knowing and seeing this causes my face to erupt in a wide grin, and I am gifted to receive another in return.

     Through the stillness, through the quiet, love transcends communication and my heart bursts.  Without words or eye contact, I know love and it is real.  I feel it in my son’s smile.  Tears well behind my eyes as I offer a silent prayer of thanks, praises, and requests for this little wonder entrusted to my care.  Again, I feel his smile and my heart soars.

     He inspires me, this little miracle.  With a look, a cry, a squeal, or a smile, he turns my world on its end.  Sitting here in the dark, I cease to wonder the time.  I find no longer care about the trivial details.

     In a sigh and a smile, my son captures my heart and claims it for his own. Sniffling back tears, I pat his back, and together; we Rock.

Shalom,

cahl

No Fiddler on My Roof

Whether I like it or not, the holiday season will be upon us in no time.  I have gone into the local Wal Mart (ewwwww) and seen the Christmas decorations up already.  I visited a local plant nursery and part of their morning task was to create some holiday ornaments.  The cashiers and I talked about how in retail after Labor Day they have to run full speed into Halloween then to Christmas.  Talk about a whirlwind of a time crunch.

Watching and listening has me thinking lately.  I decided today that I would visit one of the few traditions I carried from my childhood.  My mother would wake on Sunday morning and put in the fixins for a beef roast meal.  This was our Sunday noon meal and I must say, all of us loved it.  Usually mom would take the potatoes from the pan with the roast and mash them!!!!! I watched as my brothers would mix corn in the mashed potatoes and inwardly cringe as I recoil in shock that someone would dare to MIX their food.    I have a strong aversion to mixing food, or to even have food touching one another on a plate.  Can’t do it.  I have good friends who have watched me take fruit off my plate, separate it, then eat it alphabetically.  OK, maybe a bit OCD.

This meal was a moment where everyone gathered–one of the few.  Whether there was much talking was of little interest.  It was usually my older brother talking to my father or my brothers and I egging each on to misbehave.  The food, the smell, the warmth, the promise of leftovers  always brought a smile to my face.  AAAAAhhhh, leftovers.  Let it be said now that there are certain foods which are better the 2nd or 3rd day. Lasagna, scalloped potatoes, goulash, roast beef,–I could go on, but I think you have the idea.  I knew that meant at least a meal or two would be a break from my usual fare of peanut butter sandwiches.  You have no idea.

I was working on such meal today, reliving how it must have been to put it together.  I added a few more touches:  squash, crescent rolls, and choc cookies–anything to bribe the boys.  I was thinking about the details in such a meal, then remembered that I was never shown that.  I observed and am thankful that I have a good memory for such.  I found my youngest standing next to me, clad in only a fuzzy blanket as he had just taken a mid-morning bath. (I don’t know why)  I was peeling and cutting potatoes and he requested to help me.  I instantly tensed as I tried to remember ever doing that when I was young.  I searched my database and could not recall.  I told him he could help me, but he had to get dressed.  No nekid boys in my kitchen, no matter how cute they are.

He came skipping back and I thought this odd.  All I am doing is peeling potatoes and making them ready to roast.  He wanted to peel, uh not so much.  I struck a deal and let him cut them in half under my supervision.  He jabbered the whole time.  I was confounded.  A meaningless task, and he approached it with such good humor.  I shared with him about how his grandpa would have to peel potatoes in the army and that was probably why he might not like real mashed ones.  (again, I dunno)  Hmmm, sharing history.

That may seem so common for many.  It is uncommon for me.  I will soon hear of great traditions, baking, baking,, and more baking.  Making large meals as a unit, games played, memories shared.  i understand some of that from watching my husband’s family.  They talk of vacations, decades of holiday traditions, memories etched in photos.  Hm. That is all well and good for many many many families.  For mine, there was a different level of focus.

To say that the difference in focus is better or worse is not for me to say.  I cannot recall any specific memories except a pinochle game or 2, and times when we would congregate at a certain aunt’s house for a holiday.  Before long, most of those times had faded and no new traditions were born.  I thought nothing of a need to want this.  I did not know to want it.  Now, I struggle with the fact that I just might want something like that.

My family and I have long ceased any get togethers.  We all have our own families, and most often in-laws receive our attention.  I think of Christmas, and I can tell you day for hour what will happen.  Eve will be at one in-law, morning is family time, my family may stop by if the weather is good and they are able.  It will just be my parents and the kids will be overjoyed to see them.  After an hour or so, weather permitting, they will take their leave and the afternoon will be spent at the other grandma’s house.  There all my husband’s sisters and their children will be present.  I have been around 14 years and it is still foreign to me.  I know the drill, the expectations, still it feels like I am under water, treading, trying to navigate the bottom with a slight view of murky water.

I see the goodies my in-law’s families have made, the handmade and cute little ornaments and decorations.  I have none of that to bring.  I don’t know how.  People speak of trips taken and making special efforts to keep certain traditions alive, I have no reference for that.  I think I want to establish, but I am not sure how to do so.   I am not a crafty girl….in the least.  I have boys, not so keen on cooking and baking and artsy creative stuff.  If they do want to help, what does that look like?  How do you let them help and not make a mess or how do they not drive you nuts in the process with wanting to take over and “help”?  We know they are really not helping, right?

Many will wonder, huh?  No baking, making things together, no special traditions that HAD to be kept, a favorite place that was the ONE place that brought everyone back together?  You HAVE to be joking.

I am not.  There was occassional games, but don’t ask me to play Pictionary.  There were times at the lake where we played all the time, but nothing that had to be followed.  I have memories of a moment or 2, nothing more.  I look at pictures of my husband’s family and the scads that I take of my children as they grow.  One of my children asked me where pictures of me would be.  I told them honestly that was not a priority in my family.  Hard work and doing work well and doing the best you could was valued, which is not all bad.  However, there are no pictures, no record of what we did or how we did it.  I asked my mother the other day what my song was that she used to get me to go to sleep….there was none.  I never thought that would bother me.  It does now, weird, at 39 that bothers me BIG TIME.  What book was read at night?  None.  What favorite stuffed animal or dress or what have you, that I HAD to have?  Dont’ know.  What made me laugh, giggle?  Who knows.

That may not seem like much to wonder about at my age, but as I watched my son today wanting to help cut potatoes, I was aghast at what and how to pass traditions on to them.  How do I pass on recipes, lefse cooking, krumkake, games, stories, AAAAHHHHH?  I know that legacy lies in the stories and traditions we leave behind.  Makes me wonder, if there is little of that in the family I grew up in, what does that say about our legacy?  hm.  Interesting thought.    I just stumbled on that.  Legacy and tradition, it seems that’s where its at…..

What legacy of tradition to leave?

shalom

cahl

the Gift which keeps on Giving.

I will never forget the day he came into my life. I admit that when I discovered I was pregnant with another baby only 3 years after my first, I was more than a bit scared. I already loved one child with a love that knew no bounds, how would I ever find that much more for another one? How in the world can I do this twice? The questions swirled in my head…how,when, how, HOW!? I know now that every mom struggles with that from time to time, thank goodness– we need not be alone. I also know that with a child, love is a little like jello…there’s always room for more. The same applies for my sons–both of them.

So, in honor of my youngest…..I offer His Gifts which Keep on Giving:
(in no particular order)

1) I was able to nurse him for 10 months straight. What a bonding experience to provide something to my child and care for him in this way. There are times I hold him and remember a many a quiet night in a chair….precious, sleepless nights.

2) He did things in his own way, in his own time. People worried when he was quiet for the for year or so….when he started speaking, there was no stopping him–there still isn’t.

3) He possesses a calm peace about him which instantly puts others at ease–including his mother.

4) Ever since entering school, he has taken up his own posse’…he attracts the nice and kind children. I am so glad

5) His tender heart is on display when he interacts with animals and babies. What a sensitive little man.

6) He can and DOES imitate me with near perfect ability.

7) He creatively invents games on a moment’s notice…just give him a lazy susan and a candle.

8) His butt-chin. Nuf said.

9) Have you heard him laugh…once you do, you’ll want him to do it often. He is the only person who inspires me to Belly laugh with gusto simply because I hear him laughing. What a great soul gift.

10) Less vocal than other boys his age, he is a deep thinker, who chooses his comments carefully.

11) His jokes of his own creation are some of the most interesting things I’ve heard.

12) Crystal clear blue eyes that pierece right to the heart of a person….willing you to look deeper and talk with him–they make you smile instantly.

13) If I need frosting eaten, I can count on him–forget the cake, cookie, or brownie itself–just give him the frosting.

14) Doritoes and Hot dogs….sigh

15) Gold fish and star burst-bleh.

16) Somewhat reserved, when he feels comfortable the hugs abound from him

17) Fiercely independent, if he asks for your help, that is a huge compliment. Letting you help him means you have “arrived”

18) His dance remake of “Gangum Style” and “Donkey” from Shrek are priceless!

19) Careful about nature and creation, his love of art, color, beauty, and music he shares with his mother…YES!!!!

20) He knows what love is, knows how to show it, receive it, and give it. He is one of the 2 best moments in my life, I would not be near the mom I am without him. Both of my boys inspire me to do more, be more, and give more because I want more for their future.

There are many other highlights I could name, but some are just for a mom to know. In honor of this, his bday, I give thanks for him and know he will always remain my, Honeybear.

shalom,
cahl

Not my Son!

I became a mom about 9 years ago when my oldest son came bounding into the world. After 14 hours of labor, he appeared, stared me straight in the face and made not a sound. He took the room by silent storm as nurses and doctors cooed over him, exclaiming that he was one of the most beautiful babies they had seen. I thought, “Uh, of course you would say that, you HAVE to say that about all kids born.” No, they told me. There is something distinct about this one, they said. Distinct? Well, he certainly made a dramatic entrance. After he was born, the medical staff present busied themselves with me and sent my son upstairs. I knew before they told me, that something was wrong. I could feel it. After he was delivered, there was no pain….there was only peace. I watched the midwife at my feet count the pulse beats and watch pan upon pan fill with red liquid. I knew that I was losing more than a typical birth, all said and done I lost about 2-2 1/2 units of blood. I remember looking at my mother, who was watching me and telling her that all would be just fine. If what I had come into this world to do was to deliver my son, I had done just that. There was an overwhelming calm as I smiled at her, and closed my eyes. It was a moment of warmth, silence, and grace. I do not recall the scurry in the room, the nurses barking at the phone on the wall to bring up an ER tech. I do not remember my mother telling the room that my eyes were closed and my hand limp. All I remember is that for a moment I knew that I had done exactly what I was to do. At that moment, all was right with the world.

How can that be? Your son is upstairs, you are unconscious, on your way to checking out. How can you be at peace with what is happening? Don’t you want to see your son grow up, to teach and mold him, to love him everyday? How can you think this is ok? Fight, fight with all that you are!

Well, at that moment I could not fight, it was not my role to do so. There were others to do that on my behalf, my role was to fight for the life of my son, deliver him, and make sure he was safe. I had done that. There are other mothers out there who are called to do much more than I for their children. It is part of the role and call of a mother.

I think of another mother on this Easter. You see Holy Week has a different feel to me now that I have my own children. There is something so tender and raw about this journey of her Son. I think of Mary, mother of Christ as she watched the progression of events, and I marvel at her. There are times I look at my own sons and giggle as I think of the tirade that Jesus must have put His mother through while He was growing. The absences, the comments, the wandering off for days on end, and the cryptic messages must have driven her to distraction. The pleas of,”mom,can I?” Imagine this boy as a teen, full of knowledge, a yearning for something different, but maybe not able to articulate what it is. Imagine this boy as he questions, struggles, listens to inner voices calling him to something too large for conception; conception larger than what His mother was called to do.

There are moments I understand this woman, this Mother of love and grace. I understand the standing back and watching, praying that the testing of limits her child is doing will keep him safe. I wonder if she listened to his comments with peace or an unsettled feeling? I listen to my oldest talk about what sees and what he hears, it takes my breath away sometimes. He has a level of understanding and perception that floors me. What many of us spend years of education trying to figure out, he explains with a simple twist of his head, a smile, and a shrug of his shoulders. It is exactly what it is, for him there is no need to complicate love, compassion, beauty, and forgiveness. He knows what it looks like, how it feels, and is unafraid to express them in his own words. The wisdom of simply expressed thought, thought that we make confused by barriers, obstacles, and conditions.

I think of this Mother as I watched my children this week. I am careful what I say, how I approach the emotion in these days. While the week begins with great joy and celebration, a parade and cheerful laughing, there are also moments of gut wrenching sadness and loss. Easter week holds the contradiction of all emotions. What must Mary be thinking as she journeys this with her Son. She knows she cannot save him, she has seen the effects of the last three years. Would that she could take this from Him. As a mother, I feel that pain, the knowledge that your child hurts, is anguished and she can do nothing to stop it.

Would that she could join Him in the garden the night before He accepts fate. I imagine she would cradle her Son, rocking him back and forth, letting Him cry out the pain. Her arms would encircle Him, willing the strength that only a mother can provide, praying it would be enough. The tear stained face of her Son must tear at her heart, I can almost hear her railing at the same Father He cries out to in this moment. “WHY!” “Not MY son.” “No, He is YOUR Son.” “I will do what needs to be done.”

Good Friday always dawns cold and dreary for me. The sun may shine, but there is a cloak of darkness which covers my emotions. I watch the clocks, silently ticking away until noon. Thanks to modern day cinema, I can hear the driven nails, see the sprawled arms, feel the weight of the crowd. If I close my eyes I can see the picture clear and the mass of people presses closer and closer to the action. I can see those whom He loves. Mary Magdalene, oh how my heart breaks for her. I see disciples, believers, and brothers already confuserequd and mourning. I see the guards, those who doubt, those who question, and those who hate. In the front, is His Mother. I can picture her Son looking down at her, a mixture of grief, loss, and peace as He does what He is called to do. Feel the agape, unconditional and reverent love this Son has for his mother. Out of the sheer madness and agony of the physical pain comes a love which can only be described as Divine. He looks at John, whom He loves and commands him to watch after His mother. He speaks to His own mother, tears glisten from His eyes as he presents John to His mother. She is not alone. He has ensured her safety, her care, and made clear the path for her love to be continued. AAAAAAhhhhh!!!!…..

The noise continues, the deafening cloud draws the bodies closer, the summit of emotion reached. So many would scream the final line. I hear a quite resignation, a peaceful resolution, the fight is finished–there is no more pain. The whisper may come as loud shouts in the soul, but the eyes close, the hand goes limp, the last breath drawn. She delivered her Son amongst the primal earth and brought Him to this moment years later. She had no ER doctor to call, no final IV jammed into an arm to save. She heard and saw and breathed the last breath right along with her baby boy, her Holy Son. She remains, stays, mourns, and misses this boy made man. Tender hands usher Him down, tending the body, swathing this example of her heart made flesh. What must she think in this moment, how must she feel? How can this Mother believe that tomorrow or the next day will heal this wound?

This woman amazes me. Her love, her unconditional love and fight for her Son drove her to the cross. Drove her to watch, to hear, to clutch at those around her…Her love required her to let Him go. Ow. That hurts. Her love required that she let Him go. She had not hold over Him in this moment, just as she had no hold over Him from birth. A wry smile might play at her lips as she sits with that knowledge days and years later. There must be a quiet peace as she knows that what is done is done. It IS finished, but the next act is about to begin, if only she can wait a day or two. If only…..

all-Consuming

I awoke the other day to start reading a new book, felt the warm blanket around me, saw the dreary weather and promptly –fell back to sleep.  It was the kind of sleep where you are not really sure if you are sleeping because you can still hear what is happening around you, but eyelids are too heavy to open.  Reality meshes with REM and a psuedo understanding takes place.

As I untangled dream from reality, a phrase lodged itself into my mind.  “I am hungry.”  What?  I took a quick sip of my now cold coffee and turned that sentence over and over again.  “I am hungry.”  Is was clearly not a question, but a definite declaration.  Hungry, but for what?  Is it just a hunger for food, space, time?

I looked up the synonyms for Hunger–the list ranges from a hankering or craving, to a famished starvation, or a deep need, wish or passion.  Most closely related to food, the word hunger implies an absence of sustenance.  I clearly had eaten something that day, had consumed coffee- so my body was not in want of anything.  The statement would not let me go, it continued to gnaw at me.  I look around at all that I have:  2 loving and rambunctious boys,  health, a roof which keeps me and my family warm, a job that I do not consider a job-but a mission, 2 degrees twhehat have been earned with hard work and honor, friends that I love and that I call family, and a desire to do more and be more.  I asked a good friend today whether we can hunger for something without knowing what it is.  They replied that that is what advertising is for.  I wonder though, if we don’t know that something exists, do we yearn for that?  How do we know that we want it, or that it is missing?  Do we first have to see or experience what is missing before we know we hunger for it?  I really do not know.

I have spent most of the day mulling this over and I have come up empty handed.  I wonder if hunger looks and feels like that never-ending hole that we clamor to fill and we never do.  If that is true, then we all hunger.  I witnessed friends of mine recently posting about their vacations and time spent with their families. I read the post, dumbfounded.  How can someone want to go anywhere with their family on purpose?  That people would choose to get in a car or a plane to spend concentrated time with more members of their family for long periods of time astounds me.   I simply cannot understand how this takes place or how one plans such an event.  I do not know what it means to spend that kind of time with siblings and cousins and family.  I know I have seen parts of what it must look like, yet the fear of the unknown stops me cold.  How can I replicate something that I have not experienced and if I do, what if it fails miserably?  Rumor has it that behavior is perfectly normal.  Normal people plan trips together and spend time making memories.  Huh, who knew?  I didn’t, yet I have looked at pictures that others have shown me, most of the time I choke back a big lump and I cannot control the surge of emotion that creeps to the surface.  Usually I blame it on acid reflux and tell myself to quit being a cry baby and develop a stronger back bone.  Yet, there it is.

There are times I desire more than anything to never be content.  That sometimes sounds so trite to me, that I should be ok with what I have now.  I believe I should be ok with the status quo, but I am not.  I want more.  I want more life, more color, more passion, and more truth.  I want to look at the world as it is and not be content to leave it as it is.  I want to stop congregating around coffee tables, in nice circles, talking about people who have changed the world- or the possibility that someone else can do it.  I yearn to be part of something on fire and exciting.  I want to be on fire and exciting.    I hunger for truth, for real conversations about real issues that matter, and I desire to find solutions.

There are other areas in which I crave.  Areas where I have no experience, but desire to do it differently.  I hunger for family, connection, and a release.  I yearn for a time when the holds of guilt and the talons of the past will relinquish their hold on my outlook and set me free to pursue areas that make my soul sing.  I cannot wait for the moment when the brave part of my personalit takes front and center and motivates me to step forward in confidence to speak and write on behalf of those who cannot for themselves.  To be a voice for those who cannot speak, or have not found theirs yet is something that has been with me for as long as I remember.  Try as I might, no amount of random blogging, casual poetry fits, or singing my heart out in the car satisfies the need that I feel.  No amount of watching other people interact with their families sates my desire for a peaceful respite and comfort.  I also hate admitting that I may need or want anything…yet I know better than my own misgivings.

I could go on and on, but my thoughts have somehow jumbled onto one another and my youngest son is out of bed for the 2nd time asking me to find Deadpool in his Marvel comic characters book.  I am not exactly sure who that is, but I do know….the hunger of my son to find this description is more important than my next sentence.

Until again,

Shalom,

cahl

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