Sunday, December 28, 2008

And it's NOT just like riding a bike

Yesterday I was with my kids at an unnamed big box store I will not admit going into. They had a gift card from my big brother (who actually made the New York Times the other day - but what's that when you've already been in Rolling Stone? I have such an interesting family) and it was calling to them.

We'd first gone into another big box store, and Jake had found his copy of the Club Penguin Elite Penguin Force. Emme couldn't find what she was looking for (and, of course, had no idea what it was anyway) so we went to another store. She found the perfect guitar, pink, with a flower on it, and was excitedly carrying it up to pay for it. All of a sudden she saw one of her friends from school and was off like a shot.

I took off running after her, yelling at Jake to follow. I was not going to be on the evening news, pleading for the return of my daughter who'd been kidnapped while out of my sight.

Turned out this nice family had rented out the local roller skating rink for the evening for their sons, and because of the holidays (or maybe their lack of friends) they were afraid no one was going to show up.

And that's how we spent the evening, faced with tables FULL of pizza and soda and cake. Turns out there were only three other kids there besides mine and the hosts'. They had three, plus my two, plus the other three- yes, that's 8 kids who had the roller rink to themselves. 8 kids - what a dream come true for them!

After about an hour, the kids ganged up on us. We had no choice, really. We'd been forced to listen to the soundtrack for "High School Musical" for the previous hour.

We made our way to the counter and got our very own...skates.

I used to skate when I was a kid. Really, I did. I was pretty good at it, too. Oh, not like my Jake is now, but the clunky four-wheeled skates of my youth didn't allow for many tricks the way his inlines do.

I tried again in my early 20s, with my friend Marilyn, in the garage of the house we were renting (I think this was before the Elvis impersonator moved in, but I'm not exactly sure anymore). I was awful. She ended up in a wrist brace (which didn't allow her to drive the night we went to the snow and I was way to scared to drive in it, but had to anyway - all because of roller skates!).

Last night I vowed I would be one of those parents skating comfortably alongside their child....ha.

Every time the skates would actually start to roll...I'd tense up. Not exactly conducive to ROLLER skating. So I basically did a roller walk. Very dorky, but safe. But that's okay. My kids haven't yet reached the age where can I embarrass them by the mere act of breathing.

It was fun, they got fully tired out (I know this because Jake actually stopped skating about 20 minutes before the end and went and sat down, and Emme had a minor melt-down), and I didn't end up in the ER. All in all, I'd say that was a successful evening, wouldn't you?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A heartbreaking story

Adoption fight over 6 month old baby

Although I understand the reasons the ICWA was passed, cases such as this break my heart.

Just before Emme came, I had a daughter for six months, before a paternal grandmother obtained custody after mistakes were made in the beginning of the case. Six months to bond with and love a tiny infant. She was very small, and very sick, and we loved her and cared for her and got her through so many health hurdles. Documentation was missed in the first days following her birth (when the grandmother stated clearly that she did not want custody) and an agency in Sacramento decided that there were definite problems in the case. Our local social service agency decided not to fight it due to financial constraints, and we decided to put it in God's hands rather than hire an attorney and begin a long and heartbreaking fight.

We tried to visit with her a few times, but it was obviously very upsetting to Jake, who was only 2 1/2. After much soul-searching, we all decided it was best to stop contact. She was bonding well with her grandma. My (now) ex-husband was very depressed and wouldn't see her at all. I was a wreck for days after each visit, and so was Jake. We walked away, trusting in God to be in control. I pray for her every day.

Soon after, we received the wonderful news that Emme would be moving in with us.

During the time we waited for Emme's adoption to be final, we were on pins and needles the entire time - nearly two years...waiting for a Cherokee tribe in Oklahoma to give us their decision. Letters were lost, forms were unsigned and re-signed and mailed again, and lost again. The day we found we would be able to complete her adoption was a joyous one indeed.

My heart goes out to everyone involved in this case - the birth mother, the adoptive parents, and the little boy in the middle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dear Santa:

My friend Marilyn sent this to me today - I could have penned it myself.

Dear Santa,

I've been a good mom all year. I've fed, cleaned and cuddled my
children on demand, visited the doctor's office more than my own doctor,
sold sixty-two cases of candy bars to raise money to plant a shade tree
on the school playground. I was hoping you could spread my list out --
over several Christmases. Since I had to write this letter with my
son's red crayon, on the back of a receipt in the laundry room between
cycles; and who knows when I'll find any more free time in the next 18
years, so now - -

*** Here are my Christmas wishes ***
* I'd like a pair of legs that don't ache (-in any color, except
purple, which I already have) and arms that don't hurt or flap in the
breeze; but are strong enough to pull my screaming child out of the
candy aisle in the grocery store.
* I'd also like a waist, since I lost mine somewhere in the seventh
month of my last pregnancy.
* If you're hauling big-ticket items this year, I'd like fingerprint
resistant windows and a radio that only plays adult music; a television
that doesn't broadcast any programs containing talking animals; and a
refrigerator with a secret compartment behind the crisper where I can
hide to talk on the phone.
* On the practical side, I could use a talking doll that says, "Yes,
Mommy" to boost my parental confidence, along with two kids who don't
fight and three pairs of jeans that will zip all the way up without the
use of power tools.
* I could also use a recording of Tibetan monks chanting, "Don't eat in
the living room" and "Take your hands off your brother," because my
voice seems to be just out of my children's hearing range and can only
be heard by the dog

If it's too late to find any of these products, I'd settle for
enough time to brush my teeth and comb my hair in the same morning, or
the luxury of eating food warmer than room temperature without it being
served in a Styrofoam container.

If you don't mind, I could also use a few miracles to brighten
the holiday season. Would it be too much trouble to declare ketchup a
vegetable? It will clear my conscience immensely. It would be helpful if
you could coerce my children to help around the house without demanding
payment as if they were the bosses of an organized crime family.
Well, the buzzer on the dryer is ringing, and my son saw my feet
under the laundry room door. I think he wants his red crayon back.
Have a safe trip Santa, and remember to leave your wet boots by the
door, and come in and dry off, so you don't catch cold. Help yourself
to cookies on the table, but don't eat too many or leave crumbs on the

Yours always with love and appreciation,
a Mom

P.S. One more thing . . . you can cancel all my requests, if you can
keep my children 'young' enough to believe in Santa.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The invisible me

Driving in the car. A wet and wintry day. Small voice from the backseat, "Mommy, can I give you a hug?"

"Not right now, sweetie. I'm driving."

"Then I'll just hug your coat back here. It smells like you. It's like the invisible you."

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Hovering Flight - a Novel by Joyce Hinnefeld

This is no big surprise - I love books. I've talked of my love for books here before, but I'm going to do it again.

One thing that is really important to me when I'm reading is character development. I love getting to know the characters in books, just as much as I love getting to know the people that I cross paths with every day. The people that live between the covers are my friends, my enemies, my family. During the unhappy part of my childhood (and that's pretty much everything from 10 on), I lived through the stories I read. I became the characters, and escaped the realities of my life.

Thankfully, I've gotten happy since then (of course, I've had plenty of time to do this), but I still get entirely wrapped up in the lives of my friends in books.

That's why I'm so excited to be able to get a sneak peak at author Joyce Hinnefeld's new novel, In Hovering Flight, through an essay she wrote about her novel and motherhood.

Mothers are dear to me. I lost mine when I was 10, and I love to read about the relationships between mothers and daughters. Joyce Hinnefeld talks of the pull and push that robs so many mothers of doing that which they truly love during the early years of parenthood. We put ourselves, our wants, our needs, on the back burner. For Addie, the main character in the book, her daughter, her despair, and her health prevent her from doing that which she desires.

I'd like to share the essay in its entirety with you. And then I'm going out to my mailbox again to see if my copy of the book has arrived yet!

The Pardoxes of Caring

A brief piece in the November 21 issue of The Week describes my novel In Hovering Flight as, among other things, a consideration of “the paradoxes of caring.” The more I’ve thought about that phrase the more apt it’s come to seem to me.

Addie and Tom, two of the novel’s central characters, care passionately about birds and about the natural world, and also about the work they do in connection with this passion for the environment—Tom as an ornithologist, Addie as a bird artist and, eventually, an environmental activist. They also care deeply about their daughter Scarlet, the book’s other important character. For Tom, there’s a healthy balance and a meaningful connection between his various loves. But for Addie, the people and things she cares about often seem at war with one another. When Scarlet is a baby, Addie finds it nearly impossible to get to her blind in the woods and sketch, much less do any painting. When Scarlet is older and more independent, Addie’s despair over overdevelopment and environmental degradation often pulls her away from her work. Later, her own declining health interferes. So there’s one paradox of caring: for the mother in this book, the various people and things she cares about seem to interfere with this other important thing, her work as an artist.

When I began thinking about what I might say about motherhood and the writing of In Hovering Flight, I thought, initially, that I would write about that term “hovering” in the title. “In hovering flight” is actually a phrase from Roger Tory Peterson’s description of the song of the bobolink in the fifth edition of his Birds of Eastern and Central North America (“Song, in hovering flight and quivering descent, ecstatic and bubbling, starting with low, reedy notes and rollicking upward”); these are lines that Scarlet, who grows up to be a poet, uses when she tries to convince her father that words are necessary to capture the beauty of bird song. But these days the term “hovering” is being used in another context, to refer to the overly protective (and damaging) involvement of so-called “helicopter parents.” In a review in the November 17 New Yorker Joan Acocella discusses several recent books on “the rise of overparenting”—or, “hothouse parenting,” or “death-grip parenting,” or, in Acocella’s terms, “hovering parenting.”

Isn’t it ironic, I imagined writing as I reflected on motherhood and my novel, that that word “hovering” appears in the title of my novel, where I deliberately set out to portray two parents who are the antithesis of smothering, overprotective parents. As an adult, Scarlet sees the debt she owes her parents, who have taught her to love and value her work, however little the world might value it—an important lesson for a young woman who aspires to a life as a poet. She describes a childhood and early adolescence of warmth and freedom, “everything as safe and sure as Eden.” And when she is ready to leave the nest, she flies north, to Maine, with the confidence that, surely, only a child of hands-off, anti-hovering parents like Addie and Tom could possess.

But of course that’s only telling part of the story. Actually, Scarlet leaves home before she has finished school, choosing to spend her last year of high school at the home of her parents’ friend Cora—away from her mother’s despair over her work and over the planet’s decline, and also away from Addie’s increasingly public activism. And here I can see something else in what I was doing, in writing about Scarlet and Addie: I was exploring the possibility that a mother’s passion for her own work, or a mother’s own passions in general, might eventually alienate her from her own child.

My daughter Anna was three when I began working in earnest on In Hovering Flight. She was, in very real ways, my inspiration for the young Scarlet, and my memories of the elation, and also the profound exhaustion, that I felt during her first months were still vivid, and so shaped my writing about Addie’s first months with baby Scarlet. What I didn’t completely own up to in my initial thinking about this piece were the ways in which In Hovering Flight enacts my own personal paradox of caring: for my family (my daughter and husband, and now too my own aging parents), for my teaching, for my work as a writer. The effort to balance all of these is my struggle—and, I know, also my gift—every day. I hope for the ability to hold all of this together as gracefully as writer Scott Russell Sanders, who says in an interview published in the September 2008 Writer’s Chronicle

Like any writer, I struggle to preserve the mental space necessary for creative work. But I’m not willing to abandon the students and others who depend on me, I’m not willing to exploit my friends, and I’m not willing to sacrifice the people I love in order to produce a more nearly perfect book. So I go on struggling to make my imperfect art in the midst of relationships and responsibilities.

The Quakers say that work is love made visible. That’s what I wanted to give to all my characters: work that, for them, is their love, their deep caring—for life, for the planet, for one another—made visible. But I realize now that in having Addie struggle, and at certain points fail, in the effort to resolve the paradoxes of caring, I was being a bit more realistic. When you care that much, and for that many, it isn’t going to be easy—for you or for the ones you love.

Joyce Hinnefeld

I look forward to reading In Hovering Flight, and I hope you do, too. You can visit Joyce's website here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Would you visit your daughter in jail?

My daughter is terrified.

There was a bit of vandalism at her school. Some words written on a wall.

A teacher told the children that people who commit vandalism will go to jail.

She remembers writing on a wall a couple years ago, when she was four.

Now she cowers whenever she see's a police car. She's absolutely terrified.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

5 things you should never do at your company Christmas dinner

This is not an elegant party at the Ritz. Ok, we don't even have anything comparable in this town, and the party is for dinner, at 7:00, on a SUNDAY EVENING. Kind of code for "Not much partying here, folks."

1. Do not show up already drunk. And then announce it to everyone. Didn't your mother teach you anything?

2. The only single guy at work is there WITH HIS MOTHER. No need to show all you've got, ladies. Besides, didn't we learn a long time ago that a man needs a little mystery? Oh, wait, maybe that's why I'm alone...I'm a little too mysterious.

3. If it's snowing, wear a coat. I don't care if you don't have a fur, which you wouldn't wear in the rain/snow/slush mix anyway. You've just ruined the red satin cut-down-to-there dress, and you'll sit all through dinner with water spots all over that expensive dress. Does that make you feel better now?

4. If you have to ask the woman next to you to move so you can get out to visit the men's room, there's absolutely no reason to ask her if she has a dry pocket. Because, if it's me, the first time you'll do this, you'll be met with a vacant stare. The second time, perhaps some nervous laughter. But the third, fourth, fifth and sixth times, she'll want to hit you with her shoe.

5. If you have to ask someone to dial your cell phone, because you've had too much to drink and can't read the numbers, please don't keep repeating the numbers over and over again, LOUDLY, while your incredibly patient coworker keeps asking you to wait a moment while she exits out of the message that she has 25 tweets waiting to be read.

Because she'll eventually give up and realize that catching up on Twitter is more interesting than anything else at the dinner party.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sharin' the love

My friend Marilyn sent this to me...I'm just lovin' it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A man and his women

When I married my ex-husband, I received a fantastic gift.  I just didn't know it yet. 

He'd been married before, and when we started dating, he had a 10 year old step-daughter.  They weren't able to be in contact (long story, not mine to tell).  I didn't meet her.

Four years later, he had a hankering for ice cream one night and drove to AM/PM.  He was gone for 45 minutes.  Neither one of us had cell phones at the time, and I was actually starting to kind of freak out.  What if he'd been killed?  Run off with another woman?  Eaten MY ice cream and was afraid to come home?

He finally returned, and told me he'd run into his ex-wife, and she'd asked him to step back into his step-daughter's life.  He agreed. 

And Jeni was my gift.  Her mom is an incredible woman (see, I'm not the only terrific girl he's dumped!) and was so absolutely understanding and gracious.  She is so wise, and knew that it was incredibly important for her daughter to have a dad, and that a child can never have too many people that love them.

I quickly became "Mom2."  Jeni was 14, and stayed with us most weekends, and usually a night or two during the week.  She was beautiful, and sweet, and funny, a talented artist.  And best of all, she was just really fun to hang out with. 

Of course, she WAS a teenager, so it wasn't all peaches and cream, or even scotch and soda, for that matter.  There were sad times, and a couple scary times. 

There was the time I was trying so hard to get back into shape, and was faithfully working out to my FIRM volume 2 workout video.  I'd had it since the '80s, and it featured Janet Jones-Gretzky, leg warmers and all.  She and her friends got a good laugh out of that one, let me tell you.

When John and I decided we wanted  to try to grow our family through adoption, we were a little worried to tell her.  She'd been an only child, and an incredibly spoiled only child at that.  But she never let on that she was anything but excited, and she's been a spectacular big sis to Jake and Emme.  Jake wants to marry her when he grows up.  I haven't yet told him that this is impossible, because we don't live in Arkansas. 

We're still close.  I couldn't imagine loving her any more that I do.  We've painted our toe nails together, gotten drunk together, talked about men, and I've even gone to a Burner party with her.  She keeps trying to convince me to go to Burning Man with her, but a week in an alkali desert is my own personal vision of hell.

She called a couple days ago.  She was coming to town (she lives in the bay area now) with her mom, and they wanted to get together for lunch.  Her mom and I were able to forge a wonderful friendship through our joint love of Jen.  We've done this a few times, and though some people think it's odd that I enjoy a friendship with my ex-husband's ex-wife that doesn't just consist of bashing him, it works well for us. 

This morning Jeni called me to firm up the time for our lunch. 

"Oh, by the way, I invited my dad.  Is that okay?  I know you guys get along okay at Jake and Emme's events, so I was hoping you wouldn't mind."

So, okay.  I was a little freaked out.  Sitting near my ex-husband and being cordial at Jake's hockey practice, or the kids' Christmas program (which I'll blog about soon), or a doctor's appointment is one thing.  Sitting down together for lunch WITH HIS OTHER EX-WIFE kinda seemed a little....flipping weird, okay? 

Driving to the restaurant, I considered pulling into the Squire Room for a drink.  Never mind the fact that I can't drink without wanting to take a nap.  Never mind that I had to go back to work afterwards. I was driving to have lunch with my ex-husband and his ex-wife.

I pulled into the parking lot, and there he was.  We were the first arrivals.  He nervously said, "So, I guess we're having lunch together."  

And so we did.

And I realized I didn't have to be nervous.  It didn't have to feel weird.  Not for me.

He looked really uncomfortable.  Can you imagine?  Sitting at a table with two women that you've DUMPED making pleasant conversation.

And I just had to think...HA!  

It's good practice for Jeni's wedding...right?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

It's just gas

I'm going to do something today that I've never, ever done before.

Shhhhh, don't tell anyone.

My kids' school is having its Winter Program tonight. Preceding the program, there will be a bake sale to raise money for the music program at the school - which, by the way, is a fabulous school with a fabulous music program.

I volunteered to bring two plates of home-baked cookies to the bake sale.

Last night, after Jake's hockey practice, and helping Emme with her homework....I had to watch House, which I'd recorded the night before. And I had to Twitter. And I never baked the darn cookies.

So, today at lunch, I'm going to a bakery, buying cookies, and replating them as if I'd made them myself. Shhhhhhhh.

Oh, but first, I have to call Pete Wilcos of Channel 7 news. He wants to interview parents whose kids go to said school - as it has some of the worst air quality of any school in the nation. 7th percentile...yes, that means 83% of the schools in America have better air quality than my kids' school. I'm going to decline the interview.

USA Today will tell you that it's because of the cement plant down the road.

I think it's because little boys like to fart.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Crummy day

Some days just get you down. I had no sick time left after staying home with a sick Emme yesterday. Being a single mom, all my sick days are saved for the kids. When I'm sick, I go to work. Thankfully, I have a private office, so I can work without spreading germs, but it's no fun. I did use part of a sick day for myself when I got cortisone injections in my back in August, but only because the medicine they gave me prevented me from driving.

When Emme first woke up, I called her dad to let him know that she was still sick, hoping he could take a day off to stay with her. He didn't answer, nor did he call back, so I presumed he was working in the field or out of town today, and I sent her to school.

My desk was piled with work today, so it was nose to the grindstone all day. I forgot my lunch, and had to buy an overpriced baked potato at the coffee shop next door, and it was cold. The representative from the new bank my boss just switched to advised me that their courier won't carry cash....???? So, I have to drive clear across town every day to make our deposits. Yes, of course, I'll get reimbursed, but still - what a pain. Our old bank is literally half a block from my office.

Emme was home sick yesterday with "the cough" that's going around. She still has it pretty bad today, but I couldn't afford to take a day off, so I had to send her to school when she should have been snuggling at home. I got to the school to pick her up, and the after-school program teacher told me how much she'd been coughing, and how it was much worse after recesses. So, of course, I felt like a really lousy mom.

After I picked the kids up, I still had to take them to buy new shoes - both have grown out of their dress shoes, and they needed new ones for the program at school Thursday night.

The one bright spot of the day: Santa was at the mall. Jake has been sharing with me that he doesn't believe Santa Claus is real. Actually, what he says is that he knows who Santa really is: it's moms and dads. He asks me if I believe in Santa, and I tell him the story of the real St. Nicholas, and I tell him that I believe in Santa. Without telling him that Santa is really a big hoax, I tell him that if he breathes a word of his doubts to his little sister or any of the kids at school, he'll never get any more Santa presents. But tonight, when he saw Santa, all his doubts disappeared. He happily sat next to Santa and told him that he really wants a Nintendo DS, but that even if he doesn't get anything, that's okay, because he has everything he wants already: his mom, his dad, and God. He really said that. He is amazing. Of course, he didn't mention his little sister.

When we finally got home, we still had homework to do. Right in the middle of homework, Emme started crying. She said that she was afraid that I would die and she wouldn't have a mom. I know this was triggered by the death recently of my friend Heide, mom to two of Emme's friends. I was able to reassure her as much as I could. Truthfully, this is really hard for me. I can't promise her that I won't die. I'm reminded that my mom died when I was 10, so now matter how much I take care of myself, this isn't in my hands. I give it to God.

On to Jake's homework, only to discover that his folder's been left at school. And the poison oak he got yesterday is much worse. I called his dad. I've never gotten poison oak, but my ex-husband reacts terribly when he's exposed to it, so I wanted to ask him the best way to treat the rash.

He didn't answer, but called back a half-hour later. He had stayed home sick from work today. So, if he'd bothered to listen to my voicemail this morning, Emme could have stayed with him and had another day to rest and try to beat the cough.

Thankfully, tomorrow's a new day. Hopefully, Jake's rash will get better, and so will Emme's cough. And my attitude.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Who's on first?

My brain is toast today. Emme was home sick today...combination of a bad cough and a bad stomach (from her new medication). I watched 3 episodes of Hannah Montana, played 7 games of war, 3 readings of A Charlie Brown get the idea.

So, now I'm helping Jake with homework. He's procrastinated, and his hockey night just got switched, so now he has a week's worth of homework to finish today & tomorrow. Bummer....

I'm reading Jake's spelling words to him, right off the list.

and so on.

I get to better..have to help him spell it (spelling is Jake's Achilles' heel).

"Okay, mom, what's next?"
"After better."
"What's after better."
"Please, mom, what's after better?"
"Yes, you're right, what's after better."
"Mo-om...what's next?"
"Absolutely is NOT one of my words."
"You're right. What is."

At this point, I finally gave in to laughter, and explained that "what" was the word.

He wasn't amused.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Can I just feel sorry for myself for a minute?

So, we got a referral to a pediatric neurologist for Emme today. Even though we've been going through tests and evaluations here, I just wasn't expecting they'd actually find anything THAT wrong. He (or maybe she - I can't really tell by the name) is in Sacramento, so at least I'll get a few road trips. But the fact that we need to take her down there is a kick in the gut. As I twittered earlier today, I wish I was a swearing person. I. am. so. scared.

And today is the anniversary of the day my mother died.

But just when I started feeling sorry for myself, someone sent me a clip about a guy with no arms or legs. Then I found out the son of some friends had a seizure last night. Then I remembered Randy's going through chemo. And, of course, my friend Heide just died, leaving her two young daughters.

And now I feel so blessed.

Dagnab it.

And yes, in fact, that's the best I can do.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Motherless Daughter

Motherloss is at the top of my thoughts the last couple days. My friend Heide just passed away, leaving motherless daughters. Yes, they have a wonderful family to adopt them now, and they have a new mom, but the loss they've suffered will be forever a part of them.

My mother died when I was 10.

When my son Jacob was small, a family came to visit. A wonderful family, expectantly waiting to adopt the young boy we were fostering. He wasn't meant for us, he was meant just for them. Lisa gave me a book before she left. Motherless Daughters, the Legacy of Loss, by Hope Edelman. I began reading, and couldn't put the book down until it was done. I think I went through an entire box of tissues. How could this woman, this stranger, know me? Know the feelings of loss and abandonment that followed me through my days, tormented me through my nights.

Hope outlines the issues that women face after the loss of their mothers....entirely dependent on the age at which the loss occurred, certain traits make themselves apparent. I fit perfectly into her description. The stories moved me to my very core.

I'd spent my life running. Running from the prospect of being hurt again. I'd already suffered the greatest hurt a child can face. I didn't want it to happen again.

Children are resilient. You hear it all the time. I heard it today at the bank.

Children are confused. They can't spill their guts, tell you what they're feeling. I was so afraid to talk to anyone. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to explain what was going on inside my head, and that if I did manage to find the words to explain the feelings, that no one would understand. So I smiled, and got good grades, and followed the rules.

You see, I didn't even believe my mother was dead. I wasn't allowed to attend her funeral....funerals aren't for children, don't you know? I hadn't even seen her in days, as the hospital she was in didn't allow children to visit. Not even her own child....a kind nurse let me in once. Just once, in two weeks. And then my mother just didn't come home. The adults told me that she'd gone "home." She was in "a better place." Even though my mother had taught me about God, about Jesus, about the resurrection, the thought still remained.....

How could a mother be in a better place than with her own child?

I'd misbehaved once (according to the adults) while she was in the hospital. Perhaps my mother had simply decided that she was tired of being my mother...maybe she'd just packed a suitcase and left. How could God take my mother from me?

I did eventually get a pseudo-mother. A foster mother, trying to mother 19 other kids...yes, you read that right. We averaged 20 kids in that foster home. My foster parents had 12 kids before opening their home to others. My foster dad had 8 kids from his first marriage, and my foster mom 3 from her first. They had one together. And then they fostered a sibling group of 5. There were a couple other "permanents" like me. And always one or two temporaries. She tried, bless her, but I needed more mothering than she could possibly give.

I spent my 20s and most of my 30s keeping people at bay. After all, if there's no close connection, how can abandonment occur? I honestly didn't think I could survive another great loss. How many nice men I hurt because I'd inexplicably turn cold and push them away when they showed signs of getting too close to my heart.

But I did survive. In 1991, I lost my brother Tony to bone cancer. In 1994, my sister died from complications of Crohn's Disease. And so I finally let someone in, someone who seemed so kind and steadfast that he'd never leave me.

And at 46, with two young adopted children, I lost my husband to divorce. The one person I'd shared so much of my life with. He abandoned me, too.

There's not much point to this post. Except for this: if you know a child who has suffered a loss, please, please, don't just assume that things are okay because she is smiling. Because she doesn't let you know how deeply hurt she is, because he won't cry for days on end, please don't think that nothing is wrong. Get some some books...draw them out. Don't pretend that just because "children are resilient" that life is easy for them.

I wish someone had been there for me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to Post Today

After November's NaBloPoMo, I thought perhaps I'd take a day or two off posting...ha. I'm never going back to my old willy-nilly approach.

I just had to say that out loud. I love to say willy-nilly. Just like I love to say whisper. Go ahead...I know you want to.

But I'm feeling just too thankful about life right now not to share it.

1. Everyone's over the stomach bug.
2. The house is decorated for Christmas.
3. It's relatively clean. That means it's clean enough for relatives, but no one else....and since I don't really have relatives (does the half-brother who last came to Redding THE DAY OF MY WEDDING IN 1997?) you can't come over. Unless you have a bottle of wine.
4. Modern medicine has figured the cocktail of chemicals it's gonna take to wipe out Randy's stage 4 mesenchymal chondrosarcoma, and chemo started today. I'm wearing orange until it's if you see me looking a little peaked, that's because it's not my color - it's Randy's.
5. Heide's girls are in a wonderful, loving home.
6. I bought myself a camcorder on Black Friday, so I'll be making films of the royalty, to be recorded here for posterity (another one of those words that are fun to say out loud).
7. I had my next-to-last session with my personal trainer today. His name is Jerry and he works at FitOne. He's a sadist. And I positively feel stronger than I did a month ago. And he's adorable...listening to him talk about his girlfriend for just a few minutes gives me hope that there is romance in the world.
8. My daughter is bold and insightful....this morning she looked at me when I was tickling Jake into wakefulness, and said, "Mama, you are jealous of me. You know you are." Of course, she couldn't define jealousy for me when I asked her....
9. I have amazing circles of friends. Yes, circles...sometimes they overlap. I have friends and connections and each and every one of them is amazing.
10. I weigh less than a zebra. Even a small one.

So, as I close this post so I can return to reading Eclipse, I'm giving thanks to God for the wonders of life and friends, and the miracles of the 21st century.