Saturday, September 26, 2015

Unexpected potato

~"Since we can not change reality, let us change the eyes that see reality."~Nikos Kazantzakis

                        "How was your first day bud?"..."Great! I had a potato!"..."You...had a potato?" "Yeah it was good."  Well..THAT certainly wasn't what I had expected to hear. but it was, more than was all that I needed to hear and then some.  My boy, he is taking off..moving forward..and he likes it. 

  After a summer of absolutely no expectations..  June, July, August were lovely....we..swam, fished, camped- did what we felt like doing-when we felt like doing it. It was calm- wonderful. September felt like a shock....  We went from relaxed and easy to absolute chaos in less than a week.   Lots of change going on.. split second decisions being made.

 Lily started at a new school this year. Sixth grade had been rough for her.  Socially, was all too much. She was just eleven years old, and was suddenly sharing a building with kids in their late teens.  My joyful girl had lost her zest..her joy. She was bored and anxious..sad and very very lonely.Luckily, we were able to get her in to a charter school. At the end of august, we went as a family to her orientation. This was a big deal-we wanted to support her. We visited the school, met the teachers, listened to the head of school explain how they did school. We were impressed....and so was Sam. "I think that I would like it here." "Really? (I tried not to sound too excited-change is hard for him..I didn't want to scare him off.)" "Yes, it seems more creative than my school.".." is very different  ...if you'd like, I will put your name on the waiting list..?" "o.k.".."Are you SURE??"
"Yes, yes I am.."..Except he wasn't..

  The school does have a waiting list. I placed Sam on it thinking that maybe he would be able to get in next year-only to find out that they had an opening now.   "Hey Sam!  Great news!  The school has a space for you!" 

The following is a transcript of the next forty eight hours

 "" "Yes!  you can start next week!".."..Oh..uhhh..I don't know..." "What do you mean?"  "I'm not sure.."But you like the new school! You were impressed about how creative it is!" "I's just..maybe I should try one more year here."  "Why?"..."I don't know.."   Wash, Rinse, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.....

 I admit-I did try and strongly  coerce convince him...but in the end-we had to leave the decision up to him.  It had to be his choice.  My fear was that he was sticking with what he knew because it felt safer.  But at the same time-we knew he wasn't happy .  This is where living in a tiny town gets tricky. Our schools are small. Sam is different. So he is treated that way. He is well liked-but he isn't well known..He was a special ed kid in grade school...thus his reputation was sealed. He couldn't just be a regular kid. His accomplishments, his that he did or does-whether it be making the honor roll, scoring a basket or even GASP! going for his learners permit to is all viewed through special ed lenses.  I'm not complaining..I'm not. Our tiny town has embraced him.. It is just that the label that got him help-has wound up hindering him as well.  In a town this small-he'll never be able to shake it.   It has been incredibly frustrating-more so for my boy than for anyone else. Sam is a regular young man..he has ideas, and dreams, feelings-goals that have nothing to do with his diagnosis. He deserves the opportunity to fail or succeed without his diagnosis being a constant part of the equation.

  I was so disappointed when he told me that he had decided that he wanted to stay at his old school. *sigh*  So, on the first he was gathering up his back pack and lunch to go wait for the bus, Lily with a look of absolute horror exclaimed (rather loudly).."You really want to stay here??!!! Are you crazy?!"   I guess that was the voice Sam needed to hear.. because he dropped his back pack, kicked off his shoes and said.."I've made up my mind-I'm going to the new school." (hallelujah!)  "Are you sure?" I asked...trying not to let my voice quiver with excitement.."Yes."...and that was that..

  He has been going for three weeks now and the transformation has been amazing. Sam, is naturally a loner-he enjoys his own company...but, for the first time in eleven years-he isn't alone. He has a group of friends, he sword fights at lunch..he is part of a design team..He WANTS to join some clubs..He-all of him- is valued...but more importantly-he sees that he is valued-for who he is-on his own merit. That is everything...well, that and...

                                                           He ate a potato! 

 You have to understand-For the past seven years, Sam has eaten the same exact thing for lunch. Every single day. Nothing different.  Food is a delicate topic with all of my all matters to them.  While Sam has gotten much better at trying different can still be a bit of an issue... So for him to happily get off of the bus-(on his first day at a new school)..and the first thing out of his mouth is about a new food that he ate-and liked?  It feels like hitting the jack pot. 

  I worry so much about this parenting thing..Sometimes it feels(and I am sure that I am not alone in this) like I make more mistakes than anything else.  But this son started at a brand new school-by choice, he's made real friends-AND he ate a potato. It that isn't success-I don't know what is..  


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Jump and spark

~"She needs wide open spaces.  Room to make her big mistakes."~ Susan Gibson

     Summer has started-almost like every other summer.  The kids are all home..I'm not working at the moment (partially by choice and partially because I haven't found the right opportunity-yet) so..we are spending much of time just hanging out together. I usually start the summer off with some kind of game plan..a whole list of ideas of things we are going to do,,,but never seem to get around to doing. So, this year..there is no list. I'm just letting the days they happen..The herd is getting older..and I have realized that they don't need me to schedule their time so much anymore..They can entertain themselves, feed themselves,groom themselves...they can find their own!  And I-I am learning to be able to insist let them. .

 "Mama..I'm hungry.."  "Go eat."..."Mama? I'm bored!" "I'm not.  Find something to do." "There's NOTHING to do.".."Well..I'm cleaning the you are more than welcome to help me." "Ewww..No!"  "O.K then..I'll be in the garage if you change your mind."."But.." "See ya!",,,

  It is liberating-this letting go. and scary..and anxiety causing and..... In two short years, Sam will be done with school! After which, he hopes to attend a program in California...over three thousand miles from home..Part of me is thrilled for him-he found his passion..his dream..his niche! Another part of me is anxious and worried and stressed,,can he do this? Will he be o,k,? The worry section of my brain envisions him wandering the streets of California wearing only one shoe (because he can't find the other one) snack-less and alone. I don't let him know about this worry of mine. I choose instead to focus on the least while anyone is around. Because for as much as he has grown,,as much as he has become independent-he still relies on my judgement.  It would be far too easy for me to convince him( and myself) that he really would be so much happier staying home..where it's familiar. Far too easy. I can not let my anxiety keep him from living his life.So, I push him..I push them all...*sigh* even though most of the time-I'd rather be pulling.

  I have spent the last week or so cleaning out my garage. I have boxes in there that have not been unpacked in years..One of them contained my mothers scrap books. My mother has been gone for over half my life,  I was twenty three when she died. I may have glanced at these books once or twice during various moves,,but I never really looked at them. 

  My mother was very reserved..proper..a devout Irish Catholic. She had a wonderful sense of humor-if you could get her to let go-which is something that I worked hard at!  I mean-there were six of us kids-and if you wanted her undivided attention-you needed to work it. She never really spoke about her past..Sure, there were stories here and there..about growing up..skipping school to see Frank Sinatra..sneaking lipstick. We knew that she had modeled briefly-but she never said much about, we never really asked.  and even if we did ask a question about her childhood or modeling or really anything from her past- she would always say "It was so long ago-I forget." *sigh*  Kids tend to believe what their parents tell them. 

  To say that I was shocked by her scrapbooks would be an understatement. It turns out that my mother was a very different person than she had ever led us to believe, There are pages upon pages of photos and articles..of this vibrant beautiful young woman... Modeling in N.Y. fashion houses..her move to California at nineteen..society article that writes about her being the "mistress of ceremonies" (for some event )where she "entertained the crowd with jokes and song"!   My mother entertained a crowd??!!  Who the hell was this woman? !! This was NOT the choir singing, crossword doing, bible reading reserved very proper woman that I grew up with. 

I don't know what happened to her..what changed her...  I know that she loved my father..(I found such joyful pictures of them together) I know that she loved her children. But somewhere along the line-she lost her spark..her zest-her spontaneity...and it leaked on to us. We were raised (particularly the girls) to be ever so strong-never to be weak-weakness was a fault-sensitivity a sin.To be overly cautious...that trying new things would most probably end in failure...While I do appreciate her making me strong..and I am exceedingly strong..I wish she had given us permission to be occasionally break instead of bend. It is (I think) a luxury that I will never be able to have-whether I want it or not-I just wasn't built that way.

 I try and be as honest as I can with my kids.  I don't hide much of my past from them.  Although, there are some things they don't know because they have not lived enough to understand them-yet. Also because I don't want to hear-"Well YOU did it.!" I want them to know that I have failed and succeeded..that I tried and sometimes things worked and sometimes they didn't. I am so afraid of holding them back..of letting my fears get the better of them..So I sometimes, have to suck it up as I push them forward. I want them to jump as high and as far as they doesn't matter how they land- as long as they keep jumping,

  My mom has been gone for twenty eight years, There are times (especially since I had kids) that I miss her deeply-and times when I don't think of her at all. Her past-her sadness- will always be a mystery to me. I find myself mourning a person that I never knew, I very much wish that she could have met Omar and her grandchildren. I think they would have given her such joy..and maybe..even possibly a little spark....

  Motherhood..being a's a powerful position.  Even now, twenty eight years later, my mom still has an impact on my life. She left us these scrapbooks..perhaps as a cautionary tale..or maybe just an explanation..I don't know.  But I will take them and use show my kids that their grandmother was quite the jumper in her day..and I will remember that no matter how matter how worried I am about growing these kids-about letting them go..I have encouraged them to jump..hopefully, they will always remember that I jumped with them....



Saturday, June 20, 2015


I am sorry-but I can not find the words to blog this week.  I am instead reposting "I am my children's mother"  It was something I wrote back in 2012 in response to another tragedy.

This week, nine people were shot dead in South Carolina-Simply because of the color of their skin. This was an act of terrorism.( No matter what many presidential hopefuls and media "analysts" are implying.) Racism is an ugly cancer in this country. Ignoring it, does not make it go away.  I am heartsick. This is the world that I am raising my children in.  We as humanity need to face this head on-look at it-acknowledge it-and fix it.

~"It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life."~ 
    Joseph Campbell

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Down to the wire...really.

~"I was the first woman to burn my bra - it took the fire department four days to put it out"~ Dolly Parton

 is almost done for the year..almost...just one more half day and we will be off for twelve glorious weeks..or until September second..I don't feel like doing the math..Actually, I don't feel like doing much of anything...The past few weeks have been an intense flurry of finishing up projects, assignments..applications..interviews...That I'm thinking that I might take the next week or twelve off and do absolutely nothing...aside from get a new job...

  You may remember- a few posts back, I wrote about my re-entry in to the working world, Yes-I became a customer service representative for our local purveyor of inexpensive goods for home and health...In other words, I was a dollar store other-other words..I took peoples money, made change,,,and learned more about personal hygiene products than anyone should ever have to learn. You would be astounded by the vast amount of hemorrhoid and hemorrhoid related products! ( I think that I now know what is wrong with the world.) It all just became too much, So, I put down the suppositories..handed in my name tag..and began earnestly searching the "help wanteds".. I had been happy doing the job that I did-it served its purpose.  I made some extra cash, the kids got used to me was just time to move on. I have a couple of possibilities..I'm hoping that they pan out...

  Until then..I'm helping the kids finish up all that they need to- so that we can start Summer off free and clear. It's been tough though..Some of my kids aren't exactly organized..Oh, believe me-I try. But four kids and four hundred thousand bits and pieces of paper and projects...*sigh* by the end of the school year..I'm kind of done...I admit-I've quit checking backpacks back in April...maybe March..I'm just ready for it to be over already. I may have slacked off a bit..o.k.-more than a bit..but I hang in there until the end,,,Like today..

  My girl-she had an issue with another student..This is a LONG going issue,,and this morning, it came to a head.  I had to go in to school and deal with it. She had emailed me from class-she was terribly upset..she needed me RIGHT I went..RIGHT THEN.  I didn't take as much time..put much effort in to my appearance- as I probably should have...But it was an emergency!  I threw on an outfit and left..

  I got to the school-in record time. I found my girl and we went in to the office to speak with the principal. He's a very nice man.We have had a number of conversations this year-he really cares about the kids-and he's funny. But, I had to play the parent know, act like a grown up and all that...This was not a casual meeting-it was professional..

He invited us in to his office...and as we were taking our seats..I felt a sudden SNAP! followed by a very sharp pain-like a dagger- shooting hot fire in to my upper right...girl part. Sharp- screaming pain!  Was it a heart attack..was I hit in by a sniper? No. It was the under-wire of my very old (but beloved) bra. It had had burst through the fabric and was proceeding to skewer my right breast like it was a chicken fixing to be BBQ 'd. Digging in with every single breath that I took-and there was nothing that I could do about it! I mean-I was being a "concerned parent" and concerned parents don't whimper in a meeting or cry out in pain.  We are stoic-serious-proper!.We listen and discuss..problem solve and mediate, We are the epitome of calm and reason. Concerned parents just DO NOT- under any circumstance- grab their boobs in the principals office.  It just isn't done.  

  I sat very still for the duration of that meeting.
We actually resolved the issue for the moment.
I believe that I am a candidate for saint-hood-or, the concerned parent of the year award.  

  There is only one half day of school left. I plan on being appropriately dressed for it..I am  going bra shopping tomorrow. I will not be buying any with under-wires...just in case. I can not wait for this school year to be over.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Not waiting for Mozart...

~"Fear is the lock and laughter the key to your heart.. and I love you."~Stephen Stills

   " bag is packed.  where is the red sleeping bag?" "It's in the wash-it smells like lots of dog...lots and lots of smelly old you had better take the blue one..." "O.K."...and with boy left for his week at leadership camp. No anxiety-no worry..he packed and went. Weird thing is-I wasn't anxious either...Not like when Sam went on this trip two years ago..No, back then.. I spent the week doing laundry...loads and loads of laundry.If it wasn't nailed down it was in the washer..I was the queen of the spin cycle-the princess of Tide. It was the only way to keep my anxiety in check...But with Oscar? I didn't seem to have any...

  Honestly?  It isn't so much that I worry about Oscar..He's a great kid. He's funny..kind.. decent-AND he puts his laundry away..without being told! What more could a mother ask for? It's the world that worries me..  Oscar stims (A lot)  he takes his time processing things...his language is stilted..his motor skills are weak..and to anyone who doesn't know him-he probably seems odd..maybe even scary..I'd like to say-that's on them-which really-it is. But the world doesn't work that way..

 Today someone apologized to me because I have autistic kids. " Oh!..I'm sorry!."..Huh? Why in the world would someone say that to me? The topic of autism came up-and I made a simple statement. "I have autistic kids"  It wasn't like I fell to the ground sobbing or anything.I didn't gulp or stutter on the word "autistic".There was nothing on my manner that suggested I was in any way-shape or form...distraught. Nothing-and yet they apologized. 

 This is not the first time that this has happened. You'd be amazed (or maybe not) by what some people think is acceptable to say. I can't count the number of times people have either apologized, asked if my kids were adopted..or-sent me articles and meme's about such and such a person who was placed in an institution-because-there was NO HOPE..and then their mother, father, aunt, uncle, reiki practitioner..gave them a book on physics and BOOM! now they work at NASA or Microsoft. Good lord!  What is it about autism..or really, any disability that makes people so damn uncomfortable? More importantly though..why do people think that they have the right to apologize for my children?   I wish that it would stop. 

 My kids are regular kids.They do regular kid anyone else, they have hopes and dreams.They are not brilliant mathematicians, physicists,or computer geniuses, They make messes..they clog the toilets..occasionally they clean their rooms.  They don't see themselves as tragic..they don't view their lives as hard..because their lives have always been the way that they are-and they do things the way that they do them because that is what they know.To them-it's's's their normal. Do they struggle? Yes. But Omar and I do our best to help them sort it all out, to navigate.I do wish it were easier for them.  But I'm certainly not desperately waiting for them to magically morph into the next Bill Gates, Mozart ,Tesla,Temple Grandin,,,or my personal favorite (I actually got a picture meme with this on it) Adolph Hitler(holy crap!)  Like any parent-I just want them to grow into responsible adults with full happy lives. Although if they do happen to make a lot of money...

 ( I am not negating the fact that their are families whose struggles are incredibly difficult. Disability is a sin in our culture. It sometimes feels like the bigger the disability-the less support that there is. That is what we should be apologizing for.)

Sunday, May 10, 2015


~"If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you..."~ Robert Plant

    It has been sixteen years since I celebrated my first mothers day.  Sixteen (sometimes very long) years and four kids later-here I am, still standing. Sometimes I feel like a superhero-able to leap piles of laundry to unclog an overflowing toilet while helping with Spanish homework and simultaneously short order cooking for four kids- IN A SINGLE BOUND..other times I feel like a dried out husk slowly withering away in the wind...while leaping piles of laundry etc. etc. etc. It depends on the day.  Most of the time though-I feel pretty average..Like any other mother. Or at least I think I am..when I actually take the time to think about it

  Sometimes I wonder about my mothering skills...Of course I love my kids-adore them..they hang the moon..That's a given.  There is nothing that I would not do for them. But there are I'm standing in the middle of the living room, ankle deep in toys and papers and all kinds of...kid crap...that I just...I don't want to do it anymore..I don't want to clean up, cook dinner, unclog the toilet (something I do at least twice a week), feed the dog, pay the bills, do the laundry....empty the dishwasher..make the coffee!  I do these things every single day-day in and out and I am bored! Bored I tell you!  But I do it anyway-because these things need to get done..Most of the time, I don't resent it...but then mothers day rolls around..

  Mothers day-that one day of the year  where mothers everywhere are told just how much they are appreciated.  There are cards and gifts-sentiments and meme's. "Mom-you are always there for me"- "Thanks for everything that you do!"..or-one of my favorites "My mom is my best friend!"..Let me tell you something-best friends don't stuff their dirty socks in  the couch..refuse to eat what their "pal" cooked for them..or fight with their siblings right outside their "B.F.F.'s" door at six a.m. *sigh* 

I don't want a day..I don't want a sentiment..I want a year! Or better yet-a town.  I'd call it "Mothersville"..and only mothers would be allowed inside. It would be a lovely place..all clean and organized. Everyone would know where their shoes were..and everyone would eat what was on their plate, The bathrooms would be plentiful..and private..with only clean towels, tubs and endless hot water. You could unwrap candy publicly!  Oh the freedom! 

It is a wonderful dream...and one I occasionally fantasize about...until I realize that it describes my life before kids. Before I had to think about anyone other than myself..Damn-but those were good times. I'm glad that I had them. Especially now that I am a mother. Sometimes, especially when I long for my old life, I need to remember that motherhood isn't all about the doing...sometimes it is just about the being. Being wanted, being needed and being loved-oh so loved..My children have taught me what unconditional means. Sometimes it's a burden. But mostly it is joy.

So, this mothers day I'll open all the wonderful hand made cards and drawings from the herd,,revel in the five minutes of peace this will give me, plant some flowers and maybe even eat a candy bar or two (or three) very quietly...after which I'll probably dig a few socks out of the couch...

Happy mothers day to all the mothers out there...


Saturday, May 2, 2015

The shape of things to come..

        ~"And you, of the tender years can't know the fears
            that your elders grew by
           And so please help them with your youth, 
           they seek the truth before they can die."~ Graham Nash


     So..spring seems to be FINALLY showing itself in our little town...the snow has finally melted, the birds are singing...there have even been a few sightings of the reclusive (at least for most of the very long winter in Maine) very pale legs-in shorts (even though it's forty degrees)...But the most definite sign for me is...that we have IEP meetings.   I'm up to four a year now,,which is my limit..unless of course one of my chickens happens to need services..Which you know?...At this point, I would not be surprised.

 I have to admit-I'm over it. I just don't feel like doing them anymore. Of course that doesn't keep me from going..But really-it's basically the same thing every year-for every kid..You go in with a specific set of things that you want for your child-a.k.a.-everything possible, and in return, you are given things that are deemed necessary for your child's education. Some times it's very little-and sometimes it is a whole lot. I wish that IEP meetings were held in bars.."I'll take a whiskey and forty five minutes of speech therapy" 

  This year was tough. I have had to come to terms with some things that are hard to explain. 
                                    "Will he be able to get a diploma?"
                                     "I don't think so-probably not."

 Yeah..This shouldn't be a shock...but it is. It shouldn't hurt...but it does. It isn't really about a isn't really about graduating...Honestly?  I don't much care. I don't worry about him-HE is great. The world however is a different story..It frightens me. I feel like the only thing we can do is to build him up..make him strong in who he is so that no one or no thing ever diminishes his light. That would be a tragedy. 

                                 "I have to die one day-unfortunately, it's inevitable."

 I have made that statement at least once a year in different IEP meetings for the past thirteen years. It is the truth and it is what drives me, I am going to die. I think that every parent worries about this at one time or another-for different reasons. I think about it a lot. Not in a morbid or creepy way-just...realistically.  I recently took a job for that very reason. All of my kids need to learn to be more independent,,and sure, I've heard "I liked when you stayed at home!" and "Why don't you call in sick?!" But I can't always listen to my subconscious. We all have to do things that are hard, like selling hemorrhoid creams and personal hygiene products.   My kids are fending for themselves a couple of hours a day..and it's a good thing. I'm not always going to be there to do their laundry or make lunches and cook dinner...hopefully it will be because I'm living in the South of France with Omar..and not because I'm dead...which I'm going to be one day (see?! I worry about this a lot) I think that they are enjoying this sense of freedom/independence..They are finding out that they are more capable than they knew. Mostly. We are having a few issues with "Who gets to be in charge"..and taking the time to read the list of chores that I have left them..but they are getting there..slowly. 

  So, I made it through another year of IEP's. We are getting what we think is necessary (services wise) for the kids. I'm lucky in that I have some very good people supporting them. There are things we need to work on..lots of things for me to worry about (besides my mortality) But I have hope..and humor and joy...and really great kids...and chickens that require far.