Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothersville...


~"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 times..like-when 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 diploma..it 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 nothing....so far.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Skipping April...

"April is the cruellest month..." T.S. Eliot


I hate autism awareness month. There-I said it. I think it's stupid..and that it serves no purpose-other than to raise money for certain organizations..blah blah blah...I've written about it before..So, this year, I thought that I would ignore it all together..I was just going to skip April. forget about it....keep my head down and my eyes closed-and hope that May came quickly...if only it were that easy..You see, April had other plans for me..

   At the end of March, I was invited by another writer to read/submit a of piece of mine for a project that they were putting together.  I was hesitant..I am not always confident in my writing (no! Not fishing for compliments here-or any comments!) Anyway-I decided "what the heck..why not?"..I had nothing to lose except my dignity..so I did it....I picked a piece that meant something to me..I read it with everything I had...and proceeded to fall flat on my face.  Holy crap it was awful! I'm not going to go into details but..I worked for a few years as an actress..I have had my fair share of rejection..you get used to it,,,But this? This was ten million times more awful..because I wasn't playing a character..these were my words..my life...and it was (sob) rejected. Oh the humanity!..What had I done wrong?! Wasn't I funny? Bittersweet? Soulful enough?! What was wrong with my words?! My wording?! Were my feelings not feely enough?.I licked my very big gaping wounds...and limped on...But it did make me think...reevaluate...look at what I was writing..what I was saying..and more importantly- how I was saying it....and in my time of reflection- came to realize that I am *sigh* never going to be the Maya Angelou(or any other passionate female writer) of parent/autism/family bloggers..never going to be able to eloquently beat my breast ..howl at the moon..or gnash my teeth... I simply don't have the angst..(or cup size) required, At least not when it comes to my kids....and I think I'm o.k. with that..

 That is how I spent much of April..in soulful reflection and being the best darn cashier I could be at my new job! Which let me tell you-has been eye opening! I have seen things...things that,,well, it will take a whole other blog post. .. I thought that I was going to slip quietly into May...until we got some disturbing literature in the mail..

Omar and I are both in our fifties. (It isn't a big deal to us..Coming from N.Y., it was normal to wait to have kids until your thirties...Here, we are the age of most grandparents. I find it amusing. Sometimes unsettling...it is kind of weird to go to school functions where most of the other parents are young enough to be your kids)..Since we were both around forty, we started receiving literature from AARP. We thought that it was funny. However, a decade later...it is starting to get kind of scary,,,Now, instead of every few months...we are getting letters every few weeks...insisting we join...insisting we take advantage of the benefits,,one of which included this-





I don't think that I have ever seen Omar so appalled! "Could you see me carrying this?!" he yelled indignantly..."*snicker* No...hahahaha..".."Why are you laughing?" "I'm trying to imagine you carrying a "tote"..".."Why would they think I would want this? "I don't know."  Are they telling me to just give up?  Do they think my life is over?  Why not just send me a coffin? Or a coffin discount?" .."Well.. maybe you'll be cremated and I can carry you in your tote."  Which of course just made me laugh harder... 

Thankfully, April is almost over. I seem to be back to the business of blogging...and all seems to be steady in our world....until September that is.. I'll have to let Omar know that it is "Senior citizen center" awareness month....I'll tell him to bring his tote...
 . 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ten full days of awful...

~"Time doth flit: oh shit."~Dorothy Parker


             




                         
I have always considered myself a strong person.  I can't really say if this is because of my upbringing, life experiences-whatever. This is just how I have always seen myself. So far, there really hasn't been anything that I couldn't shoulder. I don't know if that is just plain luck-or sheer obstinance.. but there you go.  I am woman-hear me roar and all that..It's funny,I take so much pride in my strength that just the thought of being weak-or worse, being seen as weak makes me cringe!  

  There have been times when I have had to muster my strength..times when I have not felt particularly strong...when I have wanted to throw in the towel-change my name..move to a different time zone...Parenthood can do that to you. Raising children is definitely not for the faint of heart. Yet, here I am with four great kids who continue to grow and change and do all kinds of wonderful things. I had thought that I was at the top of my game..that nothing could faze me. I have potty trained..and short order cooked-fixed plumbing...nursed chickens back from the brink of death-and all of this in one afternoon!  I thought that I was indestructible!....Until I got a job..

  I haven't been gainfully employed in a steady sense for fourteen years. We had been very lucky because Omar did well enough for me to stay home with the kids. However, the last two years were very difficult financially for us-and although we are definitely in an upswing....I thought that a part time job would help. We also want the kids to be a little more independent. So..I found myself a little job. A no responsibility other than being pleasant, counting change and bagging purchases kind of job. Something that I could do while the kids were at school...something that allowed me to be home at night. While at the same time-gave the kids a little bit more responsibility in making their own lunches, taking care of homework..etc. etc. That kind of job. I'd care while I was there-and then go home.  No worries. HA!

Interviewer-"So...if you want this position, you have to be available from 2/27 to 3/5 in order to help set up the new store.."
Me-"Sure, no problem."
Interviewer-It is considered a temporary job.  If after that ten days,if the company believes you are a good worker,,they will hire you permanently."
Me-"Well, I'm a hard worker-that's for sure!"
Interviewer-"Great! Be at the store on 2/27 at 7:45..."
Me-"Great-thanks so much."

  I am fifty years old.  There is no denying that.  I don't hide my age-and in fact, am rather proud that I have made it thus far, I'm fit-and healthy-FOR MY AGE. So...you can imagine my dismay when....

  I showed up on the right day and at the right time...it was twenty two degrees below zero. I got out of my van and walked towards the huddled group of very cold people and cheerfully proclaimed "Hi-I'm Kathleen." One of the huddled said a weak "hi"...the rest just stared at me-rather sullenly- truth be told..."Well", I thought "it is cold...I'm sure that people will be happier once we get inside"..Only,  they weren't. 

 We were corralled over an ice mound that was blocking the entry into an enormous totally EMPTY building. An enormous empty UNHEATED building...where we were told that "This will be the hardest of the ten days...we have to unload this truck...we don't have hand carts..or a snow shovel..or ice melt...or even mats to prevent you from slipping on the ice as you carry these incredibly heavy and bulky pieces of equipment over this ice burg into the store....oh-and watch out-the floor can be slippery." 

I tried to stay optimistic as I stood there in my coat, jeans, nice sweater and clogs. "Well" I thought "They did ask on the application if I could lift fifty pounds" *sigh* "I just didn't think that they meant carrying fifty pounds while ice skating- consecutively for ten days. But I did it. I also didn't think that "setting up the store" meant literally building all of the massively heavy shelving units...hanging shelves on all of those units...and unloading over five thousand boxes of merchandise(again, no hand trucks) to load said shelves with...But I did it. Well..I did it as best as my fifty year old body would let me. Which in the eyes of all of the twenty somethings I was working with...seemed...weak. I was actually frowned upon-ME! frowned upon..seen as inept...incapable...and perhaps a tad bit irreverent.  Come on! If every single box you happened to be opening contained either enemas, douches or suppositories-wouldn't you find it funny? They say "No man is an island"..but I'll tell you...that afternoon, I was an archipelago of feminine hygiene and hemorrhoid treatment products! I thought it was a riot.  I was alone in my feelings...It was awful...ten full days of awful.

  But I made it...I carried the load..skated the ice..built the shelves..stocked the suppositories!  I had proven to the company and my fellow employees that I was tenacious-I could hang on! That I...I had what it took- to be a cashier.

 Today was my first day off since that fateful February morning. I spent it running errands and catching up on all the other things that I usually do,  the kids are slowly adjusting to me not always being home...I am hoping that things get smoother for them....and me. Change takes time..especially when your fifty. I may even get some of those serious twenty somethings to laugh...eventually. Until then-if you need any feminine hygiene supplies or hemorrhoid accessories..just give me a shout...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A chicken by any other name.....


~“This wasn't just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it."~ Dorothy Parker


         




You know how sometimes silly little things  just get to you.?  Even though you KNOW that these little things amount to nothing in the grand scheme of all things.... you try and brush them off..let it go..life's too short etc. etc. etc. So, you hold it in, bite your tongue..breathe and try and focus on the positive...the good things...the silver linings. When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade...or do shots of tequila..it just depends on the lemons..
  The last time that I posted here was right before a blizzard...which led to a snow storm, then another snow storm...and another...and now we are under a blizzard watch...AGAIN. Even though my rational mind KNOWS that spring is coming....there is a part of me that is terrified that it won't. That we will be stuck forever in this perpetual winter of non stop snow.. arctic air and endless white,This perpetual cycle of shoveling snow and mopping the floor...It is really starting to get to me..making me tense...edgy...ready to EXPLODE..snap over react...something...*sigh*..

                                                                 I am a woman annoyed. 

  Things that I would normally think nothing of- are sending me into a tailspin.."Hey Mama..there was no soap in the shower." .."Oh..sorry! you should have called out-I would have told you where it was.." "That's o.k.".."Well..at least you used shampoo.".."I didn't wash my hair." "Did you use the body wash?"..."No...I just spun around in the water."...Now normally, I would have calmly discussed the need for soap..perhaps suggested light heartedly that they were NOT salad and that spinning really wasn't the optimal way of getting ones body clean..that personal hygiene was "kind of important".... But these are difficult times..and I have become a difficult person. "Do you ever want a date? People are so NOT attracted to people who do not bathe! People who smell bad do not get jobs! Stinky people don't have careers!"....and on I went...My poor kid..actually, my poor kids..They all have had to bear the brunt of my unreasonableness...This weather is getting all of us down...With the exception of running to the market and going to school (between storms-and sometimes during) we have been stuck inside. 

  Thankfully, there has been some brightness in our otherwise very dark winter.  My brother in law has come to visit and It has been wonderful-especially for Omar as this is the first time he has seen anyone from his family in twenty seven years. What joy. He is one of the loveliest people that I have ever had the pleasure to meet.  He's one of those people that you instantly like. So warm and kind. I'm blessed to call him my brother. The only drawback is-neither of us is fluent in the others language. Which can be tricky-but we are figuring it out-with a lot of help from Omar. We are both trying to learn as much as we can...which of course makes things....interesting..

  We were skyping with Omar's family the other morning. This was a HUGE deal for me-I finally got to meet my handsome father in law...see my mother in law for the second time-ever...plus his other brother and sister and niece and nephews. Most of his family was there.Omar and Taha were in front of the screen..So,I gave them a moment with the family...let everyone see them together..I left to get myself a coffee...and as I was coming back into the room I thought (all cocky and such) " I think I'll try out my mad foreign language skills...I walked in and said to Omar (in my best Arabic) "Have you seen my chickens this morning?"He just looked at me... kind of oddly..(I thought that maybe it was my accent) So, I repeated myself..this time slowly..."Have   you   seen   my   chickens?."...again  a strange look..jeesh!  ."MY. CHICKENS." I stated firmly...and then..(oh god) I realized...I wasn't saying chickens..No! .I was instead- naming certain female body parts...body parts that you simply DO NOT ask if  your husband has seen- in front of his family! Of course I did what I do best in stressful serious times...I burst out laughing...laughing all by myself....Everyone who heard what I had said-pretended that I hadn't said it....families can be great that way...

  I am trying to find the bright spots to get through this seemingly endless winter...I'm hoping that I can hang on until spring...if it ever comes. Until then, I guess that I can work on my foreign language skills...or not.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Long strange trip..


~"Sometimes the lights all shining on me,other times I can barely see..."~Jerry Garcia






"Yes, I will..errrr *cough, SHE will be starting at a new school next week.."  That was me thirty five years ago..speaking to the superintendents office...pretending to be my mother..because I had absolutely no intention of ever going back to school..legally I could not drop out until I was sixteen...and since that was only a few months away...I thought that I could stall things. put them off until it was too late for them to do anything..My current school..well..we had come to an understanding..a mutual agreement of sorts...a meeting of the minds if you will...we just couldn't see eye to eye..they thought it best that we part ways..We were breaking up.  "It's not you-it's me.." Right...I was kicked out..expelled-I would not pass go-would not collect two hundred dollars..The fat lady had sung-I was done.

  I wasn't a bad kid!  I didn't fight, or wreak any sort of havoc..I just didn't always make the best of choices-one of them being- actually showing up to school. For one reason or another-I can't really remember...I just stopped going. To this day-I do not know how I got away with it for so long. I'd get up, get dressed...walk to school...but somehow..I never quite made it in to the building. I intended to go in...I would get there, books in hand..bright eyed and ready to be educated...and then- someone would call out to me..and before I knew it..I'd be sitting in a friends basement..or on the way to the beach..or Burger King..*sigh* My intentions were....good-ish...Oh that damn road to hell....

 So, there I was, pretending to be my mother..."Yes, I will send you the information so that we can have her transcripts sent.."  I used my best "Mom" voice...and it worked. They bought it...or, they just didn't bother to look into it. Either way, I successfully became a high school drop out at fifteen.  Go me! not. Although in hind-site, it was probably one of the best of the worst decisions that I have ever made..or the worst of the best?..Either way, it did help me to figure some things out..even though that figuring out took about ten years, Sometimes *sigh* I'm a slow learner..

  One thing that I have always thought was that if I had kids-it would be different for them. They don't know too much about my early years because....honestly? I never want to hear "Well-YOU did it!"  I honestly dread that. Besides, they have to make their own mistakes-not live vicariously through mine.  They are doing a good job of it.  

  Thirty five years ago, I would never have imagined myself sitting in a principals office-as a parent! Yet, there I was this past Monday...along with Omar, the principal, the assistant principal and one very very remorseful child. Talk about surreal! I hardly knew what to do with myself.I admit, I was a bit tense-I thought that I was going to have to fight-but not in the way you may think. 

  All of my kids have I.E.P.'s. If we believe that they require a support or a service, I will not give up until they get it. I am a dog with a bone. No apologies. But I also believe that although my children (via I.E.P'sand otherwise) have specific rights-they also have responsibilities. Yes, my kids all have disabilities-and sometimes those disabilities affect their behavior.  But in this case-my child made a mistake-a mistake they were capable of not making-and they needed to deal with the consequences. I was afraid that the opposite would happen.  It didn't.

 I am probably one of a group of very few parents who rejoice in their child being suspended for two days. I rejoice because he was treated as a capable human being, because they were given the opportunity to discuss what happened-in their way and in their time, that they were listened to and not rushed, spoken to and not at, understood and not vilified, given support in the moment and in the future. My child walked out of that office feeling better than when they walked in. That is a gift. Not one that I particularly wish to ever be bestowed on them again-but a gift nonetheless...

I did eventually graduate from high school. (I had to make up a full year and then some-yuck) I even managed to go on to college and get my degree. My mother never found out that I impersonated her.  That's probably for the best. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Reap...

~"You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance."~
 Franklin P. Jones


       


         
     So, our holiday break came to an end..We had a lovely Christmas and New Years day.  Right now, we are finishing up our first week back to regular life.. 

  Five years ago, I would have been cheering the start of school..counting the minutes (really-I did count them) until the kids got on the bus and left me and my coffee blessedly alone. I loved having them home-but sometimes too much of a good thing is...too much.   Now, although I am enjoying  once again having a few minutes to myself -it is with a different sort of feeling..more bittersweet and less hysterical joy. They are all older now-and life isn't so cut and dried. Instead of wrangling a herd of little ones..I am helping four very diverse and strong minded individuals learn to navigate their lives...which is a mature way of saying "Holy crap I have teenagers and a tweenager and a little one who believes she is an adult!" ...and they ALL need me all at once..and I'm trying to juggle everything which feels like trying to put socks on cats. I will be honest in saying that I have absolutely no idea of what I'm doing.
The logical portion of my brain tells me that they are all doing what they are supposed to..I get that.  But the highly caffeinated emotional and larger part of my brain shakes its fists (figuratively-my brain doesn't have fists) in the air lamenting "Why? Why?!" 

 My oldest is sixteen now..and he is trying to figure out his place in the world..It has been tough watching him stumble-letting him fail..but equally, it has been beautiful to watch as he gets right back on his feet. It's hard...he's not a kid...and he's not quite an adult.  He is definitely not my peer! He struggles with that last part-as do I-but for different reasons...He has a great sense of humor-however...some of that humor should never be shared with your parents! "Hey Mama...have you heard the one about the MASTER fisherman and his BAIT?" "NO! and I don't want to!".."But Mama..it's funny!  you see there was..." EEK!(plugging my ears) LA LA LA LA LA! Make it stop!  

  Then we have my thirteen year old..who cares only about what HE cares about and everything else is stupid...*sigh* It is like he is on auto-pilot or something..."Hey!  Do you want to watch this movie with me?" "No, it's stupid." "Please clean your room." "That's stupid." "Please eat your carrots..""They're stupid.".."Is dessert stupid".."Yes..NO!".."That's what I thought."   Sometimes, I wonder if the disdain he seems to hold for...many things has to do with his awareness of how some people see him. He stims-he has trouble with verbal communication..often times he is dismissed. No, I don't believe that it is malicious..or even consciously intentional..but, It is as if his disability somehow lessens other peoples expectations of him-of his ability-of his person-hood.. excluding him. Yes, he is very different-yes, he doesn't "do" things the way most people do..but...*sigh*. If only I could change the world..presuming competence would be the norm.

My girls have been a whole other sort of angst fest...My oldest at eleven is trying to figure out all sorts of girl stuff..social stuff..It isn't easy.  a lot of her classmates are a year or more older than her-and at this age, a year is huge. I simply do not know how to help her. I'm just not good at this sort of thing. It isn't by accident that I live in an area where fleece is considered business wear..I mean some of my closest friends are chickens!  What do I know about girl things? .Although I suppose we could ask my youngest..When she isn't imitating her sister..she's telling her what to do..and how to do it. (this does go both ways between my girls) When my girls get along (which is most of the time) it is wonderful...but when they don't? It's misery...for everyone.  The yelling and slamming of doors-the gnashing of teeth!  Sometimes it is just...excessive..overwhelming..headache inducing?  Separate, they are so lovely and kind..Together? They are a force to be reckoned with-both good and bad..It is tiring. I can not tell you just how much I am looking forward to their adulthood..that is, of course- if I survive their adolescence. 

 I was on Facebook this morning where one of my friends had posted the status "You reap what you sow"..I find this sentiment rolling around in my head as I write this post. My kids are my everything and then some. They are the reason I get up in the morning..and sometimes...alright, a lot of the time- the reason that I can't sleep at night. It's just plain hard watching them grow up. But, I look at how far they have come-and how much they have grown and I think "so far- sown good".I know-bad pun. I bet you that my chicken friends would like it..