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

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38’s Special

I was Here

Well, here it is.  According to my birth certificate I was born at 6:42 am on Sept 6,1974.  For a longtime, self-proclaimed NON morning person, that is quite a shock to the system….interestingly enough, my youngest son was born at 6:43 am on april 14.  Coincidence?  I think…..

I have spent the last nine years claiming 29 and I have done it well.  My inner circle joked with me this year about whether or not I would have the courage to DO IT….Would I turn 30?  NO!  I won’t.  Wait for it….I plan to claim 38.

Now, on a good day, with FANTASTIC lighting, great hair, and impeccable make-up I can easily pass for late 20’s…. lately however those good days lend themselves closer to 30ish and according to FACEBOOK, I pass for 35…we all know how truthful that is!

As I gaze into the mirror, trying not to adopt a critical eye…the telltale signs are there.  The laugh lines are deeper, the wrinkles on my forehead a bit more pronounced, the gray that will not relinquish its hold….they are all there.

So why embrace this?  Well, that is a super good question.  I think back to what i wanted at 30….I was supposed to have my career in place, on my way to owning a home, a couple of kids running in the yard OH BLAH DEE OH BLAH DAH!

Uh, sure.  At 35, I started sweating the lack of the “dream”  At 38, I OWN NOTHING!  I have a couple of cars with over 150,000 miles on it, no mortgage, no owned home, boat, timeshare, motorcycle… I do possess almost 90,000 of federal loan debt, so I guess I can say the government owns me…that’s something, right?

WAIT WAIT WAIT.  I do have a Bachelor’s degree, A Master’s of Divinity, 2 full units toward clinical chaplaincy.  I have 2 amazing amazing and wonderful children, who are smart, caring, and articulate…they’re cute too!  Not that i am biased.  ,I am not in jail, do not deal drugs, and am a contributing member of society…I am the director of communications and marketing for a growing and impactful non-profit, and I work with people on all levels of civic, faith-based, and city involvement.  These people are some of the closest things to angels in flesh that I have encountered…the staff that I work with is above par and what’s more, they put up with the pain in the butt that I am–lovingly.

At the end of the day, as I embrace 38 I understand that I am a lucky woman and I have earned these 38 years.  I have earned what I have learned and the woman I have become as a result.  I have seen much and endured much, that much is true.

Ok, so what have I learned?  Can I write to book now?  Seriously.  I have experienced female friendships which are more valuable to me than anything I could ever anticipate.  I have women who have poured their lives into mine at various age levels and I am a better me because of them.  There is such comfort to sitting with a good gal pal (or facebooking, chatting, iming, googling, or whatever you want to call it) and laugh, cry, talk, shop, drink good wine, eat chocolate, and laugh some more.  I love love love my girls, what’s cool is that they know who they are.  Some are soul sisters, creative companions, writing legends, or just plain lovely.  I don’t need to tell them every day how much they mean to me, they know….but I am not afraid to tell them I love them.

I am not afraid to embrace my sons, let them see me cry or to be human around them.  They know that their mama is real and I make mistakes and when I do, I beg their forgiveness.  The result?  My boys and I are TIGHT TIGHT TIGHT.  I know them and I am a better woman because of their impact on my life.  The road is not always easy, and sometimes I am at a loss as to what to do next….I pray constantly that I do not mess them up completely.  Love does heal a multitude of wounds and I love them with everything that I am…and unashamed to claim it.

I have not traveled an easy path and the skeletons in my closet are anything but pretty.  The incredible knowledge is that I have survived, not only that, I BEAT THE ODDS.  Those who read this and really know who I am, know that I speak gut honest truth.  Every card in the deck was stacked against my favor and somehow…somehow the Creator and I overcame.  It is daunting to think about sometimes, and scares the crap out of me most of the time.  I do not know why I would be chosen to beat the odds, but we did it.  Creator willing, we’ll keep at it.

I dream really big dreams and I am beginning to face the fact that I may just be able to accomplish them…on my own.  I lived in the shadow of some amazing family members for most of my life.  That is what they are to me now, shadows.  The longer I keep chasing their legacy I have none to  call my own.  Their legacy is theirs and not mine to claim.  While a couple of massively talented people ended up in the same family, it does not have to eat me alive.  This is something with which I will wrestle my whole life…identity.  Maybe that’s ok.  I am an artist of words, and advocate for people, a lover of people and animals (except snakes and spiders), a change artist who desires to make a positive impact and leave this world a better place for my children and my grandchildren.  I am a storyteller and a compassionate teacher and chaplain.

The latest I have learned as a result of grappling with authority.  Sometimes there is a fight in which to engage and a time to open my mouth and stand up for people and values in which I believe.  There are moments when the gloves come off and in grace, love, and wisdom, I do declare that I will not stand for what I see happening.  I believe that if I disagree with something but have done nothing to remedy or impact the situation, I have no right or authority to speak in opposition to it.  If I choose not to vote, I have no right to criticize.  If I have not taught I have no right to judge those who ask to be dully compensated for the education they provide my children.  As I age, I understand that I have more experience and less to lose….and I can be more comfortable in saying “to hell with this.”  pardon my potty mouth.  People of all ages, stages, and places deserve HUMANE and GRACE-FILLED treatment.  I am here to do my part to the best of my ability, and I will fail and sometimes I will win.

So, there it is…I promised myself I would stay under 1200 words…I have done so.  My day has been long and I bid my 37th year and 29 a fond farewell.

Shalom,

cahl.

Aside

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.

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

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