September vacations…who knew?

One of the busts about teaching is you have to live on their schedule.  “Them” being the districts that set the school year….there are no vacation days in teaching…except for the ones built in, and when you have vacation, be it Spring break or Summer vacation or Christmas break, the WHOLE NATION of children are on break and everything is crowded and noisy…and you know, full of kids.  Which, being a teacher for 25 years, I can tell you, is NOT how teachers want to spend their vacations — with a whole load of kids who don’t listen to them…but I digress…

So, now that I am retired and restarted, in another wonderful career…..I can take a vacation in September.  Holy God, why didnt someone tell me it would be this awesome????  September, glorious september. cool in the evening, warm during the day, uncrowded beach.  Oh my, how did I not know about this sooner?  Oh, thats right, I was in school…WP_20140928_009 WP_20140928_034 WP_20140929_006

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So, he did it.

Our son married yesterday.  Enough said.  well, almost.  His bride hates us, all of us, me, my daughters, their husbands…she tolerates my husband because he is very good at hiding his disgust.  But, he married her.  and besides the fact that there was much gnawing and gnashing of teeth — we all behaved ourselves.

And are now waiting patiently to hear all the compleaints the bride will make about how we behaved…

Ah well….

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The problem is me….

There have been many times, as I stumbled down this almost 35 year  road that has been motherhood, that I had no idea what I was doing.  I have a degree in Early Childhood, have spent my life researching, working with and teaching about children, family dynamics, development.   And Im good, damn good.  When I am directing others…..but, when it is my own life, my own family, I falter.  I KNOW what research says, I know what I would encourage someone else to do, but I am not certain of the path I should  take.   Why?  Is my family so “special”?  So different?  No, truth of the matter is we are just like every other family, complex, intertwined, separate and dependent.  The issue is me.  

As a mom I always prided myself on putting my children first.  FIRST.  My husband and I had a rocky marriage, we are two very different souls, and although I never imagined doing it without him would be a good idea, we did battle — but we always said “well, the one thing we’ve done right is our kids”.  Who knew?

We doted on them, we did every family thing we could afford, opting for relaxing vacations at the beach, where we fished, crabbed, boated, swam, walked the shore, you get the drift….over flashy places like Disney or Mexico.  We wanted them to find their fun and entertainment in their souls, in each other, in nature.  And it worked.  They grew up closer than I could have ever dreamed.  They shared everything, with a minimum of sibling rivalry or competition for attention.They supported each other.  Kept secrets from me and their dad, coached each other through life’s messy moments.    They each, we believed, were secure enough in the love of the family, including extended family, that they were okay with each other getting more attention when needed.  

But I digress.  As I said, the problem is me.  My son is preparing to marry a woman who has said, on many occasions, that she does not care about how her actions  affect his family.  She pulled our daughters out of the wedding BY TEXT message and has spoken to me in a way that belies lack of respect or emotion.  My son is set, in a week, to stand at the alter without his sisters, his nephews and nieces, his brothers in law , at his side because it is “her” wedding.  I could list the litany of offenses this woman has dumped on this family, but it doesn’t matter.  She doesn’t like us, doesn’t want us to be a part of the wedding, has told me to attend “as a guest” and, oh yeah, took $5000. of my money to pay for things her parents refused to cover.  And then yesterday, she texted me directing me to “alter” the dress I had made for our granddaughter, my son’s daughter who he has raised since she was 6 months old, to make it more “in sync” with the bridesmaids.  And, my son, the man I raised to be compassionate and loving, feels that all of these behaviors are OK.  That his sisters should apologize to the “bride’ for hurting her feelings, that he has been ignored in this and that we are more worried about his sisters than him.


As I said, the problem is me.  I have raised a spineless, uncaring, lazy man.  And my heart is breaking.

So, now the decision is, can I even attend this wedding?  Never could I have imagined a situation where I would have contemplated missing my child’s wedding, but I am genuinely concerned about my ability to make it through this day.  I have a week to figure out if I can surround myself with people who have been critical and nasty to my daughters ( the bridesmaids dresses we paid for will lay unused) , who have told my husband to F— off, who have directed snarky hurtful remarks at me — or do I just stay home.  And how do I let my other children attend that mess without me?  And my husband?  Oh lord, his answer is to smile and let it roll….

The problem is  me. 


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I know I am repeating myself, but mornings really are my favorite time of the day.  Late at night is good too, but I get a little spooked at night, the back yard is so dark through the Florida Room windows, I worry about lurkers….Not that I’ve ever had a lurker here, but you know….

At any rate, mornings are my time. promise of light through the dark.  Today the crickets are in full swing.  One brave little soul has camped out in the Florida Room, little sissy stops every time I walk out there and then hits it in high gear when I go up the  step  to head back into the  family room.  Sing on buddy, no way I’m going cricket hunting at 5:15 in the morning.

And, the coffee tastes better.  Nothing like a warm mug of coffee on a cool summer morning.  No rush, just drink and smile.

And the quiet.  for just a little bit there is no phone, no tv, no demands.  Wonderful quiet.  

I don’t know what it is.  But I do love me some morning time. 

( In the sense of full disclosure, I must admit, the TV is on, its just muted.  Haven’t been able to break my TV addiction yet, I need a program….)

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Where’s my Cake?

I used to teach at a school that had a fairly active, and competitive “sunshine club”.  They sent me 4 bouquets and at least 10 cards when I was out for 3 months with knee surgery….It had a birthday component.  Some complicated sort of rotation that had us making or baking cakes for people’s birthdays.  You didnt bake enough for the whole school, just for your little “clique”.  So, way back several years ago it was my turn to bake for our phys. ed teacher, Sue. I’m pretty sure it was peanut butter and chocolate, but that memory may be wrong. The rest of it though is clear as yesterday.

The halls were electric.  Noise, kids, parents, admin. on the intercom.  Everyone was heading the same direction, towards the front door, but in little bursts.   I was up by the nurses office, monitoring who was leaving, who needed to pick up their meds, who was having an asthma attack.  Sue was about 30 feet down the hall — dressed up.  In that dress that she always wore on Parent night, or special days — like her birthday.  Over the hum of “its ok, it’ll be ok. We are ok.”  I heard — loudly– “Hey Cindy?  Wheres my Cake?”

It was noon on 9/11/01 and my girl Sue was looking for that birthday cake.  


I read this morning that she had died.  62 years old.  Alzheimers.  And the first thing that came to my mind was her in that hall, looking for that damn cake.  And I smiled.  Because, for all her human imperfections, Sue knew that life would go on.  She knew that there would be a tomorrow and that you had to keep your head about you and move forward.  And, you damn well better eat cake while you had the chance.  Rest well Sue.

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August 14

Sitting on the couch, wrapped in a sweat shirt and long soft pants ( as my grandson Ryan would call them) — cold.  Cold?  Its August, on the east coast.  HHmmm……and as I sip my coffee and savor the quiet and the sun shining on the back of the couch in the florida room, and how it contrasts with the shadow over my spinning wheel….

I have this little internal smirk going on.  Because I know that next week teachers return to school. and the insanity begins.  And, even though I am back to work full time,living with some sort of schedule,  I am sO happy that I am not returning to the world of living life in 90 minute blocks ( or 45, depending on which paradigm is trending this year), of paying 3.50 for a slice of cold pizza and 3 pieces of lettuce and calling it lunch, of peeing and getting back into my “spot” in 3 minutes, of monitoring the hall, dreaming up “overaching enduring themes” and , oh lord, the paperwork….No, I do not miss you Public Education.

I do however, miss the interaction with peers and my wonderful students.  I miss “teaching”  “TEACHING”.  That amazing interaction of push and pull that happens when you work with kids — kids who trust you to deliver, to listen , to guide.  We did a lot more of that in the 90’s.  Before business and “district” and fools who know nothing about the mind of a teenager decided they were going to save education….

So, I will say a silent prayer next Monday that all of my colleagues, near and far, will have the peace and privilege to teach this year — and to learn.  and that the “powers that be” will respect their ability to do so. 

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the fog lifts

And then, like I knew it would, things began to feel better. The situation with my son hasnt changed, he is still marrying a woman that hates his family. My daughters are hurt and sad, my husband is, how can i say it, wounded. And I vacillate between anger and sorrow — but it is all a bit tempered. You cant live like that, in that state of distress and pain. So you cope.

I often cope by retreating into my art. I will spin or sew or quilt or knit or try a new form of textile manipulation. I will clean my studio, organizing buttons and trims….

But yesterday I spent the day learning to dye wool. Wool for my spinning wheel. Surrounded by a group of wonderful women who are JUST LIKE ME!!! They dont laugh when I call my spinning wheel “her” or look confused when I go pot to pot touching the roving. These ladies taught me things, words like “mordanted”. they ate my carrots and hummus when they really wanted to chow down on the cake. We sat and chatted, wrapped lengths of roving around our arms, poured dye, baked it, watched the miracle that is indigo dyeing.

I took a day off of work. hesitated about 9:00 am, maybe I wont go, maybe I will stay home and clean. So glad I didnt make that choice, else the funk may have stayed hanging over me. Yesterday cleansed me. Washed off the grime that is hatred and animosity. Coated me in the soft fluff of color and texture and laughter. Wonderful wonderful day. Thank you Deb Mitchell and all the ladies of her guild. In not a small way , you saved me yesterday.WP_20140811_009



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