Layer(ed) Cake

I  looked back on the last blog that I wrote about my son and chocolate cake.  Something struck me mid week and today while doing my own work I stumbled upon a couple stark realizations.

I was penning a new blog where I opened with the admission that I was a thief.  It was matter-of-fact and final.  It was wrong and judgmental and I directed  it precisely at me.  I was unapologetic and fully willing to take the blame and I’ve done that for the last 41 years.

There was something in that last blog that did not sit right with me.  It was the image of me as kid,  sitting at a classroom desk waiting for birthday treats that did not come my way because of allergies.  I wrote out of what I knew to be truth at the time.  It was truth until I peeled back some layers of the cake and revealed a crumbly center.

You see, at that time I wrote that my parents had forgotten to send to the school treats that I could eat.  I trumped up every excuse in my mind, or truths that I  told myself over  41 years, so much so that any other reality was inconceivable.  I never thought to question it, it was my reality.  Then I  discovered there was nothing accidental or forgetful in their actions.  Nothing.

I have 2 children, and my job as a parent is to make smooth the road to adult independence.  It is my job to advocate, support, cheerlead, mourn, celebrate, and “be” in it with and for them.  It is my obligation to do all I can to arm them with the tools they need to be successful citizens, husbands, and God willing, fathers.  Forgetfulness happens and can be forgiven.  Intentional neglect does not.

It nearly guts me to type those words, believe me, it broke me to utter them today.  Even though I was in a trusted and safe place, the amount of pain I encountered is something I will have to muck around in for awhile.  Even in the midst of that safe space I fought like hell the tears that ekked out, revealing my vulnerability.

Intentional neglect.  That is quite an accusation and one I do not entertain lightly.  But, if I examine the facts, it is the only conclusion.  In this day and age, peanut and gluten allergies are as commonplace as uttering the phrase Common Core. (not getting into that debate)  There are whole tables dedicated to the “non” peanut eater and special menu considerations exist for those with gluten allergies.  It is a given that if one child is affected, the whole class is made aware; every effort is made to ensure that all children feel like they belong and no one is left out.

I did not have that luxury and now I am beginning to feel the full impact of that alienation.  While we did not have the internet or smart phones when I was young, the invention of the telephone DID exist…even if we had to use a rotary dial to make the call.  Parent-teacher communication was available.  There was still snail mail, teacher conferences still happened, a stop in to the school was always welcome.  The fact remains that those measures were not utilized.  That intentional inaction led to my feeling even more ostracized and alone, lonely and afraid in a time when perceptions of school were just beginning to take shape.  I learned at an early age that I did not fit, that there was something “wrong” with me, that I was not like the others.

Edward Kleban, lyricist for “A Chorus Line” provided some words that resonate with me

“Diff’rent” is nice, but it sure isn’t pretty.
“Pretty” is what it’s about.
I never met anyone who was “diff’rent”
Who couldn’t figure that out.
So beautiful, I’d never live to see.

Without knowing it, I adopted this philosophy and claimed it as truth.  It’s wrong and it kills me to type that.

Why?  Because what the hell do you do when you put A and B together (and I don’t do math) and discover the truth you thought you knew and what you had constructed your whole outlook on is incorrect?  Worse yet,  that truth is destructive and unhealthy?  What do you do when you realize that people who were charged with your care intentionally neglected to follow through?  What do you do when you peel back a layer and find that there is no excuse for their actions?

They could have picked up the phone to check in every once in awhile.  They could have brought items in during teacher conferences.  They had a whole host of options.  They chose not to.

My mother told me once that because I was such a difficult child, that I was reluctant to embrace her as my adopted mother, and show her love, she quit.   She quit trying.  I never forgot those words and they ring a different tune now.  They quit–they intentionally quit.

Even now I am rolling that around my head and beginning to question 41 years of beliefs I have and finding myself at ground zero.  I don’t know what to do, and I usually have an intellectual analysis, or at the very least, a smart ass comment to diffuse the situation.  I have none.  When I wrote the words, “I was a thief”, I was writing out of a truth that I believed wholeheartedly and called myself.  I was a thief because I used to take sweets from locations in the house, hide them, eat them, and try to smuggle out the evidence.  Sometimes I got away with it, often I did not.  Each time I was caught I was punished for stealing and sneaking around and taking things that did not belong to me.

You know what?  Oreo cookies rocked then, and they rock now.  I know that because I took them, ate them, and liked them.  Maybe instead of stealing, I was surviving.  Maybe instead of looking at the situation and swallowing that I was a bad kid who stole and lied, I was someone who was resourceful and just sassy enough to buck a system I could not control.  Maybe.

That’s a hefty piece of cake.  But, I think it’s important to pick apart all the layers and see what they’re made of.  I think I owe it to myself.  Because what I’m finding that while the cake is chocolate, and appears to be chocolate throughout, there are pockets and whole layers that are bitter like baker’s chocolate.  I know it’s bitter because in one of my sweets’ forays, I took what I thought to be chocolate from the refrigerator and well, let’s just say, baker’s chocolate should be left for its intended purpose…..for baking.

I’ve thought about this understanding all day today and tried to put it in perspective as I parent my children.  I watched my son inhale a  slice of cake for breakfast and I grabbed a piece too.  I smiled at him as he took his first bite and I smile now remembering how his eyes rolled back into his head.  You know what?  Chocolate cake is flippin awesome—it tastes amazing.  It tastes even more amazing when you know someone made it for you, out of love.  Scratch that. Chocolate cake is FREAKIN awesome (insert the intended expletive if you choose)  You know what else?  I am a flippin good mom……I got to share in this moment with my son and I will never forget it.  My son may, but what I hope he remembers is how he felt when he expressed his needs or desires and they were met.

I thought about my mother in those terms today and for a split second I felt sad; sad for both my parents.  I could try to justify this whole blog by saying I was willful, difficult, unruly, and that I did not get those moments with my parents.  Today, a new layer revealed that THEY did not get those moments with ME.  They chose not to.  They quit, intentionally.

God, I wish I could explain the pain that admitting that brings.  I wish I could walk someone through what it feels like to sit and watch 41 years  begin to tumble as jenga block by block is removed.  I wish I could describe the fear of what happens as each block displacement sets the structure to swaying, wondering if the next removal causes it to topple.  I wish I could articulate the confusion I am encountering as I twist and turn this Rubik’s cube, trying to make sense of a reality and truth that is without explanation.  Worse yet, that that truth is wrong.  I wish I could say that this is easy and there is an instant resolution to the 24 minute “Full House” episode where everyone hugs. wipes away tears, promises, and forgives.

It’s not Lifetime movie night.  It’s not easy, it is the hardest work I’ve done because it requires vulnerable honesty, brutal admissions, and concentrated courage.  And, I’m not sure that I’ve got it.  I’m not sure I’m up for the challenge.

All I know is that today, my fork ran into a layer that I did not expect.  Does it cause me to gag, retch, spit out the piece, throw out the rest of the cake; rendering it worthless?  I don’t know.   Do I look deeper into the piece to find out how much of the cake is affected and do I go back to the recipe to determine what happened?  Do I take the information I discover and apply it to my next recipe?  Do I have the guts to enter into the  original story and create a new reality?  Do I have the balls to allow others to join me in baking a new cake?

Tonight, I iust don’t know.  Ask me tomorrow, I may have a different answer.

shalom,

cahl

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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

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…..

Do you See what I SEE?

It begins at 6:30 am, 7:00 am-if I am lucky.  Up from his spot on the floor, because neither of my children will sleep in their own rooms, my oldest will jump up  and run tearing through the house, looking for the next sleeping victim to rip from their slumber.  Because the youngest is a nightowl, I am lucky to see sleep by midnight…Weary and bleary eyed, I listen to my oldest son scream at planes he has made the night before and turn the TV up louder than snoring can cover.  I sigh, knowing another day has begun.

I love my sons with all that I am.  I would do anything for them and will advocate and fight for and with them my whole life.  There is nothing that I would not do to make sure they grow to the men I pray they become.  I lay awake at night and wonder what more I can do, what more I can supply for both of them.  Often, I am left still wondering and hoping I am doing the right thing….whatever that means.

I watch and I listen.  I watch what I remember as my oldest was a baby  and he fussed and fussed, who would not let me put him down–who would not let me out of his sight the whole first year.  Who continued to grow into a toddler, with a verbal expression and physical control that amazed most people.  He was shooting baskets at 2 1/2 and speaking in full sentences.  I was astounded, and already tired.  Already full of energy, able to feel his way through situations, and with an intelligence that was evident, he hurled toward toddlerhood as I brought my youngest into the world.

The gloves were off, now I had an angry 3 year old coupled with a newborn I was nursing.  I was convinced I was gonna do this right!!  no matter what it cost me in sanity.  What is right, anyway?  My oldest was livid with me for daring to bring another into the family–so was my dog.  We had to let her go when I found her using my pillow on my bed as her personal toilet.–that’s another story.

My oldest hated that child and hated/loved me more fiercely than I had seen him.  Almost exclusively attached to me, I worked  hard for him to establish his independence, which he did–and he flourished.  Even bigger gains in intelligence and understanding took place, but the energy and activity level sky-rocketed to highs that saw him clawing at the window blinds and banging his head on the wall in anger and frustration.  THIS was my first born, the one who had been with me the longest…what had I done to him?  What had I not done for him?

I remember a day when he becme so angry at my youngest that he tried to attack him with a metal baseball bat….I stepped in between and took the bat swat from my son instead…I threw the bat away as soon as I was calm enough to gather my thoughts.  That day saw my son ripping curtains in his room and clawing at the walls….I still do not know what set him off, I don’t think I ever will.

Onto my lap I pulled him and set him so his back was against my chest and rocked him back and forth like I did when he was tiny….I whispered, I shushed, I sang, he was enraged.  He threw his head against my nose, heard it crack, and he laughed.  I fought back tears and forged on…I had to save my son.  That was the longest afternoon I remember, there have been others, but none when I have been so scared.  I will never forget that, yet I wonder, what did that moment say and do to my son?  I am not sure I will ever know.

Fast forward to school and 3 solid years of worry and fear.  Test after test after IEP meetings….NO!!! he is not special ed, not able to comply or function.  He is my son and he has a name.  PLEASE!  Won’t someone see the constant chewing of fingernails and any other non-food item….please someone advise me how to handle a passionate and strong young man full of energy that he appears like a tornado the moment he wakes up and sleeps only when his nighttime med allows his body to rest.

Someone please watch his face when he is frustrated with the fact he will never be perfect and he doesa not know how to reconcile that.  Tell me what I am supposed to say to my oldest who asks me to find a gun and kill him, or continue to bang his head against the all–with his fists, or whatever is handy.  Someone please tell me it is not because I am adopted or that I had medication when I carried him or that I have genetically passed something on to him…I know all of us want someone or something to blame when there are no answers, but someone please tell me this will resolve.

I continue to watch, to monitor.  My oldest would still like to “take out” his brother.  He has said horrendous things to me, has destroyed much of the furniture and his toys, and is still attached to me like none other.  He is also sweet and understanding of global pain and heartache.  He knows about prayer and God and creation and possesses a deep spirituality which he questions with logic and inquiry.  He is smarter than any person I know at that age, except maybe my older brother….his uncle.  He is compassionate to a fault, yet will turn around and without batting an eye will choke my youngest and throw him to the ground.  There are times I cannot get there in time….when my youngest will take matters into his own hands.  Sometimes I have to let it happen, sometimes I don’t know what to do.

I am not sure what I am seeking…maybe nothing.  Maybe I am just a tired old mom, who does not want to feel so old and tired at 37.  Maybe I just want breathing room or the chance to feel like it is not my fault or that I am walking on egg shells all the time.  Maybe I want to experience my son without a bated breath of what will happen next, maybe I just want to breathe—AND!  to use the bathroom all by myself 😉

The constant noise, onslaught of questions and need and emotion from this wonder of my son–it takes a toll.  I know there are other parents out there dealing with this….I know they are my age and younger.  If someone is out there reading this who is older–please listen and see!  Sometimes when they are telling you, I need a break, they are not making casual conversation.  There are times when the pressure and exhaustion of it all gets to be too much, yet most of us (women especially) will never say when it’s too much.  They will put their head down, swallow the fatigue and guilt, and march bravely on to the next day.  We will walk out to get the mail or take out the garbage and swipe at tears coursing down our cheeks, we will rejoice in silence of a grocery store trip alone, or blare the music on full blast and sing out frustration on the way home….BECAUSE we can and we HAVE to!  We look for excuses to extend a trip alone a bit longer, when sitting with people who are older and kind and wise mean more than we can articulate.  When the idea of sleeping the day away sounds like heaven on earth.

Please, See what I see..hear what I hear…Please?

shalom,

cahl.

What WOULD i say?

After I posted my Father’s day message to my sons, my mother asked me via Facebook chat what I would say from a daughter to a father.  The question stumped me.  I have no idea what I would say.  As i worked yesterday, I wished each male a “happy man day” knowing that not everyone is a father, but we all came from one in some fashion.  It is the same with mothers.  Not everyone is a mother, yet we all came from a woman and were given life.  So, what WOULD I say to a father from a daughter….let me try my pen at that one….

 

1)  No hitting, kicking, screaming, clobbering, or taking any anger out on your little girl.  Reserve the physical and verbal displays of anger for working out or a good wood pile.–She will remember a lifetime the comments you make to her.

2)  She needs heroes and you are likely to be the first one she sets her sights on, let her down gently when she realizes you are not perfect–allow her not to be perfect too.

3)  Tell her every day that she is beautiful and smart and capable.  She will doubt this most every day the older she becomes.

4)  Treat her mother with all the love and care that you can, she is watching you for the example of the future mate she chooses.  Help her choose wisely.

5)  Teach her modesty in dress, make-up, and hair styles.  Remind her that her worth does not come from what she looks like, but the genuine nature of her heart.

6)  Show her it is ok to work hard and be strong–likewise allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to show your true emotions.

7)  Encourage her to ask tough questions of herself and those around her, encourage her even more to discover the answers.  Be there for her when the answers are not quite what she expects.

8)  Never take chocolate from a woman.

9)  Keep talking to her as she grows up, a time will come when you will feel awkward around her.  Remember this is a tougher time for her, she need not lose her childhood and her father all at once.

10)  Learn the difference to the names: Father, dad, and daddy.  If you are a daddy know why and count yourself amongst the luckiest men in the world.

11)  Become a daddy, she will need one her entire life and will be too scared to let you know that she yearns for one with her whole soul.

12)  Get in the dirt with her…show her it is right to get dirty and gross and smelly–remind her she is beautiful when she does.

13)  Compete with her in games…whether they be sports, mental, or otherwise…do not always let her win.

14)  Do NOT do NOT do NOT go out with her looking like a complete dork.  This will cause endless embarrassment and she will wonder what she did to make you do that to her.  REMEMBER, she is likely to take everything personally.

15)  Take her out on dates, nice ones.  Show her how to expect to be treated.  She will treasure the time to dress up and be treated like a young woman.

16)  Keep talking to her and making special efforts to connect with her as she ages.  She will fight with identity and her place and all the roles she feels she has to fill her whole life.  Remind her to breathe, often.

17)  Take her mother out and romance her…she will roll her eyes and then journal about it or text on the phone for days afterward.

18)  Let her see you cry, do not apologize when she does.

19)  Show her the appropriate way to be angry, keeping in mind controlled emotion is more powerful when coupled with logic, love, and grace.

20)  Teach her to build….campfires, bed frames, book shelves, make sure it is practical and that it can be decorated by her artful touch if she decides.

21)  Instruct her in changing a tire, pumping gas, changing oil, and basic maintenance.  This application will save her tons of fear when stranded on the road alone.  Take her call when she is out there alone and help calm her.

22) Do not tell her not to cry, be there when the tears have ended and she needs to talk it through, no matter how many times she chooses to “re-hash” the same conversation.

23)  She will love animals, foster this in her.

24)  Touch her in kind and daddy-like ways all her life…she will need that re-connection with you.

25)  Laugh with her, calling her that cute nickname from when she was tiny.

26)  Remember how it felt when she placed her little hand in yours, NEVER forget that…protect that image and that little girl as long as you can.

27)  Teach her to stand up for herself, to fight for what she believes in, and not back down from something she believes is right.

28)  Insects are freaky…take them out.

29)  Include yourself in the conversations even when it “appears” she is not talking to you.  She is watching and noting your reaction.

30)  Treat her brothers like the men you want them to be, instilling a strong sense of family and connectedness–support them when inclined to fight for their sister–bust them when they dishonor her.

31)  Do not let her become the “little princess”  boundaries and the word No have to come…gently and kindly with good reason applied.

32)  heartbreaks are real, hers will be no different.

33)  Show her the importance of faith, listen to her when hers crumbles and she knows not where to turn,

34)  Tell her that you were proud of her at every step and that you are even prouder of the woman and/or mother she has become.  Tell her WHY you are proud of her, and mean it.

35)  Offer to hang with her husband or life partner…connecting with her loved ones shows her you are interested in her life.

36)  Ice cream, dipped in chocolate…WITH SPRINKLES!!!!! Lots of em.

37)  Remind her she has a song in her soul that is uniquely hers…help her sing.

38)  Tell her OFTEN, “You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  And. I. Love You.”

 

that’s all she wrote,

from a daughter,

cahl

 

 

Someday you will BECOME…..

I think of my sons this Father’s day.  Let me say outright that I would rather this be MAN‘s day and Mother’s day celebrating Women as a whole gender.  I realize that this won’t happen, so I will advocate for it myself.  ANYWAY!!!!

I think of my son’s today.  I was able to catch up on an ongoing project…I have been writing to both of my children since I knew I was pregnant with them…each month I write to them and keep a running journal of what they are up to, thoughts I have, words from just mom.  My children have not seen the journals, it is my hope that I am able to give them to each of my sons on the day they graduate from high school.  I look back through some of the entries sometimes, I already know I will be a basket case on their graduation day…Ah, mom.  As I think of my boys, I often find myself wondering as to their future.  What will it look like?  What will these active and caring boys become?  Will they be proud of themselves, well-centered and caring men?  I would be lying if I did not say that I hope much for them, that I pray harder for their future than I do for anything else.

I think of the future wives or life partners they may have.  I have to say life partner here, because I cannot assume that either of them will choose one way or another.  I have discovered that despite my best efforts, my ability to control either of them amounts to NOTHING.  I can hope and direct and re-direct, but at the end of the day, what they do is their decision and their responsibility.  I will say that whether they marry or not, the people in their life had better treat them well, or this Mom will have some words.

I embark to impart a few words that I wish my boys to know as they continue to age toward manhood….

1)  You were born as babies, became toddlers, young boys, boys–you WILL become young men and men in the future.  You are not boys in men’s bodies–you will be a MAN someday–embrace that.

2)  Treat your mother with all the respect, kindness, honesty, love, and care that you can.  She will teach you many small and large graces you will need in the future.

3)  Do not shrink from emotion or displaying emotion, even if that means tears.  The mark of a mature adult is the person who can admit emotion and keep it from controlling you.  Face it, feel it, embrace it, and then let it go.  Many a life is ruined by those who cannot let something go.

4)  Understand what it means to work hard, to earn your way by honest work.  Whether the work be with your hands, body, mind, or other part, dedicate yourself to doing well each job you are given.

5)  Do not stop educating yourself–learning is lifelong.  It does not matter if this is in an academic or hands-on learning–do not think yourself so smart that you do not have something to learn.

6)  Remember to have fun…enjoy the outdoors and let it be part of you.  The wonder of creation can speak more to a soul than many a perfect word.

7)  Speak your mind with grace and love.  If you have found something worth fighting for, then do so with all your heart, soul, and mind.  I will back you all I can.

8)  Be kind to children, animals, and each person you encounter.  You have no idea what they may be experiencing at any moment.  Remember there are people who have shown you much grace at times, it is our privilege to give back.

9) FOLLOW through and HONOR your word.  If you say you are going to do something, DO IT.  If you cannot accomplish it on your own, be humble enough to ask for help and allow others to help if necessary.  True community comes when we join one another no matter the situation.

10)  PUT THE SEAT DOWN, and while you are at it, check the toilet paper roll–chances are it’s out.

11)  deodorant and showers were invented for a reason–realize that–often!

12)  Clothes hampers and baskets are there, that is where the dirty clothes go–not right beside it.

13)  If you are married to the person of your dreams, cherish them with everything that you have.  Be real, honest, approachable, and in touch with yourself enough to tell them what they mean to you.

14)  If you are blessed with children, be a better parent than your father and I were…improving by at least 50% over what you experienced.  When you are scared or have questions…ask.  There are people there to help you.

15)  Find someone older than you to be a mentor–preferably male who is not related to you.  In turn, find someone younger than you to mentor–preferably male who it not related to you.  We learn volumes from one another.

16)  Your partner will want surprise gifts, flowers, small moments that let them know you are thinking of them.

17)  Teach the little ones how to spit seeds, blow a bubble, whistle, bait a hook, and field a grounder.

18)  The arts have their place, return to them often and let them fill you.  Remember all those songs I sang to you and for you…there was always a reason.

19)  A handwritten thank you is a most valuable gift, write them.

20)  Give the gift of your time, it is the most precious thing you have to give.

21)  Being a man is not about brute strength, it is about your character and the heart you possess.

22)  Faith is vital.  Share the stories of your faith with your children, let them learn from you.  Likewise, listen to them…they have much to tell you.

23)  USE THE FORCE!  Yoda and the rest of the Jedi‘s were honorable because they depended on peace before violence.

24)  Keep your temper.

25)  Find a hobby, something that is all yours and make it part of you.

26)  The written word–its power is immeasureable–read them, let them wash over you, especially if it something that MOM has written 😉

27)  Family does not have to look the same.  If you are committed to the people you call family, love them, trust them, and would be willing to fight for and die for them….you have learned much.

28)  Do not forget you both have a brother out there–be good to each other.  Someday, you two will be all that remain.  No matter what, do not let arguments or personalities destroy who you are to each other.

29)  Black socks and shorts do not mix…In the same way, white socks and dress pants do not mix.

30)  Ice cream does cover a multitude of owies…keep some on hand.

31)  Learn to say, “I am sorry” and “Please forgive me.”  Allow others to tell you the same thing.

32)  Fresh breath is a part of life.

33)  Let your children see you in all facets of life with your loved one…they need to know you both are human and willing to do what it takes to be real and loving.

34)  Remember recreation is RE-creation for your soul.

35)  Have I mentioned to put the seat down?

36)  Take the shaving remains from the sink and the top back on the toothpaste tube–btw, squeeze said tube from the bottom flattening as you go.

37)  Insects and snakes freak out most girls and women…calmly deal with them, you’ll be their instant hero.

38)  Since I almost this age…I leave you with this one:  “You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  And.  I love you!”

love,

mom.

Calgon?

I posted on my facebook last night that I was mad enough at my children to spit nails.  I was frustrated by the lack of respect, the insanity of clutter all around my house, the general confusion as the end of the school year takes hold and summer descends.  I also wrote that I feel alone in this parenting gig.  It was of some comfort to hear that there are other parents, many not that younger than me, that feel the same.

I almost kicked myself for vocalizing that.  Then, I stopped.  Why should I be afraid or apologetic for admitting that sometimes I do not have a clue how to do this?  There are moments that I do not want to be climbed on, or my food eaten from my plate.  There are also times that I do not want to share my bath, my bed, or my emotions.  Sometimes I simply want to be left alone.  Even, as I write this, I have my oldest standing right next to my chair swiveling it back and forth…..now my youngest has come over to ask me to open his tiny muffin package, hurling a litany of questions as I open it. 

Do not get me wrong, I love, love, love my boys and I have a connection with them that transcends anything else I have ever experienced.    I did not and do not have that connection with my family.  My mother will tell me, “But you would not let any of us love you.  So I stopped trying.”  Ok.  I don’t understand the connection my boys and I have, but it is spiritual as well as tangible and it defies definition.  It is love, pure and simple.

That does not mean in the dark part of me that I do not struggle with being a mom.  This is incredibly hard heart work.  It is an all-consuming, up at dawn, never-ending roller coaster that most of the time I embrace wholly.  But…there are times.

My oldest current diagnosis sticks.  ADD, Bi-polar, and extremely gifted.  He is a high needs boy with energy and passion to spare.  He is much like his mama, I just don’t have the ADD or bi-polar.  I was high energy, passionate, stubborn, and independent….WAIT!  I still am.   My oldest is also highly intuitive, compassionate, giving, and perceptive.  He has been with me on my Seminary journey the whole time, and at 8 years can speak to the heart of some complicated issues.  He asks theological questions that have no easy answers, and he works them out for himself.  He is my emotional barometer.  If something is off, I can count on him to sense it, just as I do.  He simply does not have the vocabulary or experience to understand what is happening.  YET.

He is also a global thinker.  I remember the day before he started kindergarten.  I found him in the bathroom, sobbing over an episode of Bindy, the Jungle Girl.  The show demonstrated the plight of the whales and dolphins, and here was my son, sobbing because he could not solve the problem.  My heart broke.  I sat in bed that night and thanked the Creator for such a son, and sobbed for the hurt his heart experiences on a daily basis.  I can’t take it away from him.  I can advocate for him and with him, I cannot take it from him. HE has the gift of mercy, and sometimes that is weighty.

He also drives me up the wall quicker than any person I know.  Right now he is watching a show and his energy has him opening and shutting the tv cabinet door with his feet.  Mindlessly, open and close, open and close, as I hear it thump, thud, thump. AAAAAHHHH.  He does not know what he is doing, his body must move.  He does not connect that he is 3/4 my height and the full weight of him in complete motion mode is heavy and I cannot carry him anymore.  He does not realize that climbing on me won’t be an option much longer. 

He also does not realize the words that come out of his mouth are sometimes so hurtful I cannot look at him.  When I hear him yell at me that he wishes he were dead, to go and get a gun and kill him, it stabs in a place I can never articulate to him.  He may understand when he is a parent.  Now I have to choke down the many times that he screams that I hate him, and that he hopes he dies sooner rather than get older.  How do you respond to that….how do you join him?  The only solution I have in those out of control moments, are to hold him close, whisper in his ear, and rock him back and forth.  It is all I know how to do.  Sometimes I know it’s not enough, sometimes I feel like I fail him.  Sometimes I think he would be better off with a stronger and more capable mom.  NEVER do I wish he were not my son.  Re-read that last sentence.  Sometimes I struggle with who I am and who I can be for him, never that he is my son.  He has taught me more about humanity and grace than any person I know.  He is one of 2 living heroes I know…my youngest being the 2nd.

There are moments that haunt me.  When in quiet moments of bedtime conversation, my oldest will look at me and ask if it’s ok if he does not survive past 16?  Uh…what?  “Is it ok, mom, if God calls me home before I turn 16?  Are you ok with that?  You know where I am going.”  UH!!!! NO!   No!  I am not ok with losing my son anytime, anywhere, by any method.  NO!!! You may not go anywhere, let me keep you here, with me.  The biblical story of Abraham and Isaac takes on new meaning in that light.  Surely a loving and merciful Creator would never ask me to give up my son!?  Surely I would be spared the pain and horror of that…SURELY.

Well, ask Mary how she felt to give up her Son.  I guess that puts a different spin on the issue.  DANG!!!!  So, I hold him, cuddle him, give him everything I can in hopes that it is enough. 

Sometimes, though, I am tired.  Sometimes I do not want a high needs child, almost smarter than me at age 8.  Sometimes the hurt at watching him is close enough to the surface that I cannot let him see the tears that escape before I have my mask firmly in place.  Anger seeps through in the middle of the night and I rail silently in my head, grappling for a solution.  Times when my 2 children are arguing so loudly and my oldest slugs the other in the stomach…yes–to hurt him–i see red.  There are also times when my youngest is trying to appease his older brother, doing anything in his power to make his big brother happy…to get him to stop screaming at him, hitting him, kicking him in the back.  These are moments when I have to stop….not to react, to breathe.  I watched one of those the other night as my youngest handed sticker after sticker to his brother…it was his brand new sticker book given to him by his grandma.  I wanted to yell, to scream at my oldest that he had no right to put his little brother, MY son, in this position.  I didn’t.  I shook my head and walked down the hall, knowing I had to let them work it out…keeping one ear open for blood-curdling screams

They come too, sometimes.  The screams.  When my oldest is in the bath and he sees a bug…a bug that incites such fear that he is literally inconsolable for the next 1/2 hour to an hour.  I shake my head, wondering how this is happening to a kid who lives, eats, and breathes insects, science, and anything animal related.  How can seeing this live be so traumatic?  I still don’t know, but then we have 2 screaming because the youngest is now terrified that his brother is screaming bloody murder.  WHAT~~~?

What do you do in that moment?  How do you keep your cool?  Often I do not know.  I know this may have been more heavy than normal, cut me a bit of slack….it is on my mind and heart often.  In the midst of tons of people, I often feel alone, carrying a heavy and dark secret.  The fact is, I hope with all I can that I do ok by him, by both of them.  I pray I will improve as I age, that I will parent with grace and love, and not an iron fist.  I commit them to God each day, believing that the best will come.  Sometimes, though, I am simply tired. 

I must go, the peace that once reigned has been shattered as one has jumped full force onto the back of the other….Super mom to the rescue–one more time.

CALGON!!!??? Take me away????

Shalom,

cahl

H E L P!

Not only a fabulous Beatles song, HELP ! speaks to me tonight. 

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in anyway.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.

I think getting older puts new perspective on this.  I reflected on this tonight as I drove home and I encountered a love/hate relationship with this concept.  I recall growing up and being quite good at “going it alone.”  I remember my mother telling me numerous times that as a child, I did not embrace someone helping me in any way.  I took fierce pride in that, I still do.  However, I find that a more lonely place to be now that I am older.

When I hear my mother mention that now, there is less pride and more sadness that takes over in those moments.  I think to myself what it would look like to rest in that dependence on another person…to lean into what others have for each of us.  I have spent years and years “producing” and it is quite difficult to let go of that.  I never wanted anyone to help me.  I take that back, I did and I did not.  I found that it was safer to work it alone, solo mission, that way there was no one left to blame if things did not go as planned.  I had no one to blame but me.  I also had no one else to lean on in times of trouble.  There is a danger when we cut people off from our lives, we stay safe, but we lose. 

In my family systems class I learned that sometimes a “Cut-off” is necessary for individuation and self preservation.  I understand that.  Bowenian theory tells us independence is not simply about “cut-off” 

Yes, people can always pretend to be independent and sometimes these people can exist for years cut off from family relationships. Many people do indeed manage to build alternative families.  Over time these relationships may work but if a when they fall apart; people are often left high and dry for someone, sometimes anyone to relate to

Ya know, I am slinging BS.  I don’t know what I am talking about right now.  I could wax poetic till I am blue in the face, I could sling all the Psycho babble in my MDIV training, I could hide.  The fact is, I call others on their BS, so I’d best be able to do it on my own.  Facing those comments from my mother make me scared, I like being independent then, but there is a part of me that yearns to hear what my mommy would do when I threw my temper tantrums of fierce independence.  I look at my own sons and I pursue them doggedly.  I do not let them push away, I do not let them wander off alone…I mean I do, but I don’t.  I remain steadfast…annoyingly so.

As I come to the end of my seminary journey, I look back on some that have been there through some mighty thick and thin.  No matter what was thrown at them, they remained steadfast beside me.  They know who they are, and I must admit that I did my fair share of pushing and “mothering” to the best of my ability.  Some got in my face, went toe-to-toe with me and others forced their way into the midst of my life no matter how often I tried to shut the door.  I did and I do, often.

It’s easier to function that way, but it is not more pleasant.  It is lonely and it can be highly manipulative.  Yes, I called that out.  Those dogged independent types like myself can be horribly manipulative, not meaning to hurt, but to protect.  In that protection there can be more isolation than what was originally intended, and the only person to blame is self.  I used that position to garner a lowly spot and I have no idea what it gained me.  None.  To what end do I continue to take perverse pleasure in neglecting the kind hands that others would extend? My gut tells me I am not the only one to behave in such a manner….I won’t be the last.

Emotion, being human is not a weakness.  I am learning to embrace the strength in that, it is not easy.  It requires that I know me, inside and out.  It requires that I fight to let others help me, sometimes I have no idea what that looks like—maybe it is a gifting and an understanding that I have to grow into as time continues.  What does that look like?  I know not…maybe today is the first step to admitting that I too, need HELP!

 

I talk truth baby~!

So just had a “comin to Jesus” with my oldest son.  He started pounding on my youngest tonight, pounding so hard that i could hear it at the dining room table where I sat.  I could hear the fists meeting flesh and then the piercing cries of my son filled the air as he ran from his big brother.  He is scared to death of his big brother and even went so far as to give him permission to hit him if he needs to do so.  I DON’T THINK SO~!

This mom chewed.  No, I did not yell, I chewed and held his smart and intuitive bum to the fire!  Last night he told me that he knows what he does some of the time and that he is doing it to make me pay, tonight was no different.  He actually used the word “pay.”  So, I did what I knew to do, I reflected truth back at him and told him it was not ok ever hurt my son, my husband, my dog, or anyone else.  No one is allowed to do that to him either…or me, I forgot me.

When his energy level has reached an all-time high, the immediate reaction takes over and speaks for him.  To some extent I can excuse some of the behavior as energy and body  release, the line was crossed tonight.  I cannot allow any member of my family to harm another for any reason.  In fact, I cannot allow anyone to willingly hurt another….no matter what.

This parenting gig is massive hard work.  A good friend told me her father reminds her continually that we are not just raising kids…we are raising and pouring into the future.  He is a future voter, husband, father, community member, employee or employer.  It is my job ( and the job of the village) to raise effective people who depend on good character and sound morality to guide them.  If I cannot instill that I am not doing my job as a parent.

Unfortunately, this gig does not come with a manual.  It does not end at age 18, nor does it become any less exhausting, (so I hear).  How nice it would be to provide safe and listening places where moms and dads can unload some of that burden and vent.  Even as I write this, there is a vein of guilt that runs through me as I think about what I am doing and whether it is the right move or not.  Confusion and second-guessing rule the day.  There are days I am so emotionally drained I have no energy to brush my teeth.  How many people have the guts to say that, much less the permission?  There are times that I am driving home from class that the world looks quiet and I do not want to walk back into my house, where legos and boys run strewn.  I do, always.  There are times though.  There are so many times that I forget that I am more than a mom, a wife, a graduate, an employee.  I forget that I want and need too.  Many times I feel guilty for even thinking it, that is unproductive.  I neglect that I am a woman, wanting to be appreciated and sought after each day.  Most of the time I feel pretty overlooked and unappreciated as an individual person. Most of the time I do it to myself and then end up pissy about how I am received.

Bottom line, I do have the first clue about claiming what I need and want.  I stink at it and then I become bitter about what I’m not getting.  Well, tonight, I held both kids’ feet to the fire in another effort to instill more character.  Will it work?  Who knows, but I have to keep trying…one of these days I may quit pounding my head against the wall.

In the meantime, how do we lighten the load for one another?  Do we allow others to help?  Maybe that is step one, allowing people to help.  Maybe step one for me is to start thinking about what I need and want….any pointers out there?  Good luck out there!!!!

Shalom,

cahl.

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