you just never know…

I had a meeting today with a VERY IMPORTANT LADY. I say that in caps. because it is true.  She is amazing, in her 60’s, spends her days volunteering, donating, supporting women’s causes.  She speaks her mind and swears at meetings.  I admire her more than I can say.

So today she came to my office to help me with a project.  we sat at the table together, and she said,  ” So, tell me about the kids….” I shared the ups and downs of my three, starting with the  oldest, working down to our youngest.  Shared that our youngest child’s battle with and victory over, bulimia had shaped the last 9 years of my life, had given me renewed purpose.  When I finished, she looked me dead in the eye and said ” I had that”.  She went on to share her own battle with binging and purging, and how, for a time, she felt she had discovered the greatest thing — eating without calorie increase.   We discussed how, and why, she had stopped.  How she had committed herself to healthy eating, but still, over 40 years later, struggles with binging and then being disgusted with her lack of “control”.  We spent almost 2 hours sharing viewpoints, research, ideas and dreams  about the importance and impact of this disease.

Damn.

I look at her and am, once again, incensed at the ability of this disease to work its way into a life full of promise.  And at how, though she is successful, a strong woman,  wonderful parent and giver — she still has to fight with self hate.  And, once again, my passion is renewed.  We have to fight this.  We have to beat this.  We have to provide support for sufferers and families….

And then, as we finished our project and sat back, proud of what we had accomplished, nursing  a cup of tea — she said “you know I never told anyone about this. My husband doesn’t know this about me, my parents didn’t know…

Damn.

I thanked her for trusting me.  For opening her heart and her mind and for believing in herself enough to know that she can say the words out loud and still be safe.

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asking…

I stayed home from work today.  Appears I have vertigo — leaving me nauseous and dizzy and wobbly….around noon  I received a rambling text from a former student.  not just any student, this kid was in my class for 6 years — middle school and high school. talented, empathetic, stubborn, ridiculously beautiful, easily led.

She floundered junior and senior year.  her mom got sick, her friends ran wild and she ran with them.  Barely graduated, barely.  Thinking back, they did her no favors pushing her on and through.  she may have benefited from another year of structure.

But it was not to  be.  She graduated. straight into drug use, abuse, addiction.  went to jail, to rehab, to halfway houses, to rehab…..struggled.  got in touch with me when she was clean and then would disappear for months.

Until, around 3 years ago “momma rock, I’m pregnant…hes a great guy, in treatment too, we understand each other…” struggled to stay clean in pregnancy, failed. Baby daddy disappeared.  Baby born addicted to heroin, 3 weeks in a locked ward in the hospital, then sent home with mom — no requirement for treatment or followup required.

For the past 2 years she has been in and out of touch.  mom and I speak fairly regularly.  She asks me to touch base every once in a while, says Kelli feels a bond with me.  Mom has custody of the baby, beautiful 2 year old Kenna.

So, today I get a text.  Asking me to find her a shelter.  Asking me to forgive her, asking me for money.  I sent her the centralized intake number for shelter.  Told her she never had to ask me to forgive her anything, but that I could not give her money.  She typed ” I understand” and not another word.

I contacted mom and told her of our conversation, she thanked me for giving her the number and said, she too didn’t know if kelli was clean or using and that she understood why i didn’t offer cash.

I wish I had offered to take her shopping.  I wish I had been able to drive her to a shelter.  I wish heroin had not gotten ahold, so many years ago, of such a beautiful, innocent soul.

 

 

 

spirits and wishes

I have a dear friend who lost her son to heroin three Christmas’ ago.  He had been fighting addiction for years — good kid, good family, bad drug, terrible ending.  Tonight she posted on facebook that she received a gift from a friend to attend a medium’s performance today.  Posted a picture of her and her 3 friends, all mothers of lost children, smiling, you could see the hope in their eyes.

And I realized, once again, how blessed and lucky I am. Today I saw all three of my kids. Hugged and spoke with all 7 of my grandchildren.  Saw my kids with their chosen partners, in love.

But for the grace…you know the rest.  I get to hold my children, all three of them.  Love them, argue with them, buy them things, make them things.  cook for them.  My friend visits the grave, fights the good fight, works to make a difference for other families.  Mourns and misses her son every minute of every day.

I really hope she heard from Ty through the medium.  I hope he told her he was fine, living the good life on the other side, clean and clear headed, watching his siblings and his dog and her and his dad fight the war on drugs. I really hope she had the sensation of a warm hug from her son.  One more time.

will it ever Really end?

March is tough on me.  March 9 years ago my world fell apart.  But, its nine years ago.  things are better — so much better.  there is no tangible, recognizable remnant of the hell that time represented in our lives.  and yet, March rolls around and I tense up.  My stomach hurts, my anxiety rears its head and I worry.  I call way too often, stretch for reasons to check in….consider medication…or a strong martini….

Will it ever end?  How long does this veil stay over the joy that Spring should bring?

self-care

The term “self-care” has been a buzzword in my life lately.  The doctor, my trainer, friends…everyone seems to be on this kick and determined to pull me in ….

So yesterday morning, after I self-cared my achy old body to the gym and completed a nice self-care filled workout, complete with squats, viper work and rope play….

I put up a Christmas tree.  First of the season — okay, I know its not OFFICIALLY the season, but it’s two months from Christmas Day, so I figured, what the heck.  And, Christmas Decorations are my favorite things in the world, so I feel like yesterday was a win.

IT happened Again…

it happened again.  Kids killed in school.  In a community college.  in the center of a little piece of America where people are just trying to do better.  And the news covered it — for a minute.  And the President pleaded with America to fix things — for a minute.  And I shook my head and lowered my eyes in prayer — for a minute.

And today it may happen again.  Or tomorrow.  How do we continue to send our children off to school with this happening.  How do we do nothing.

in the calm

of the morning, sometimes I remember their eyes when they looked up at me.  Or the sticky hands or legos on the floor.  I remember the cut up oranges and apples with peanut butter.  The Barbies and dinosaurs that made up the 80’s and a good part of the 90’s of my life.  Beds full of arms and legs as they scrambled into our bed on Sunday morning, the line of us making our way into church.

And, sometimes it makes me sad.  Melancholy actually — no surprise I guess.  Those years were like jello – soft, colorful, quiet yet capable of eliciting squeals of joy and wails of sorrow.  My children stretched and grew, totally oblivious to the inevitability of change, yet embracing every new skill, word, personality spike.  And I ached to grow with them . Moments of success punctuated by days of “dear lord, did I really do/say that?”

And now they are grown.  Married, successful, struggling in their own way to raise their own children. And I still ache to grow with them.  Some things never change, yes?mia blankee

Self care…

Today I had my second colonoscopy.  I hate even typing the word.  😦

Results were good, no scary things lurking around, which was a relief since last time, 4 years ago, they had to remove some polyps.  (TMI?  Sorry…)  And, I dont have to do it again for 5 years!  Woo hoo!  Hopefully the prep will be better by then.  Good Lord, what a way to ruin a day!  I lost everything except my sense of humor — but wow, what a night.

So, I did what I was supposed to do, had the test.  Worried a bit due to previous results, but felt safe and cared for during the process and appreciative of my doctor’s kind words and honest conversation afterwards.

This “aging” thing has its perks.  I get to choose how to spend my time, I have many people to love and be loved by, I have the resources to do most of what I want…but the downside is this myriad of “tests” that you have to expose yourself to after you turn 50.  And, although you know the chances are you are fine, there is still that nagging doubt.  I tend to spread my tests out over the year, deal with one possibility at a time, but i have friends who pile them all into a one or two month period to get them over with….not sure which is the best idea.  But, for now, this one is over, and I am fine with that!

Declaration of My Independence

Oye.  So, my kids won’t read this.  They don’t have any interest in my blog, which is okay, truly.

Disclaimer:

I have been slowly declaring my independence from the ties of parenthood, grandparenthood.  Now, that does not FOR ONE MINUTE , mean that I don’t adore my kids and grandkids.  i would drop everything, everything if one of them needed me –and I have many many times.  Happily. I don’t regret or resent any moment with my family over the last 35 years. Not one moment.

But, over the past 2, maybe 3 years, I have realized that I am running out of time.  No drama here, just reality.  I’m almost 58.  Realistically I have maybe 10 -15 years left to feel pretty good, be pretty active.  Then, with my family history, maybe another 5 years to dwindle…and that is best case scenario. Not guaranteed, by any means. I have spent the last 35 years wrapped up  in supporting other people.  My people, my kids.  But, its time, it really is, for me to have some ME time.  for sure.

We took a honeymoon and then one camping trip in my dads camper before we started having children.  popped out 3 in less than five years. When our third child was 5 we took our first weekend away, with out kids.  Did it once a year for the next 2 years.( This was the time in my life when I used to stand in the back yard and watch planes fly over and wonder where they were going, if I would ever fly again.  Yes, I know, poor pitiful me. )

After  our 20th. anniversary I planned a trip to Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I know, Cleveland. That was the extent of our travels, alone, during our marriage.  Period.  We took the kids to the beach, almost every year after the oldest turned 7 — in North Carolina. Wonderful family vacations. We bought a boat, took the kids out every week.  We spent many days with family and with each other, we swam at the neighborhood pool.  We gave them the best life we could. We spent every minute with them, as a family. And it was a good life.

Flash forward, 35 years after we married on that Cold January day.  Kids are grown and married.  6 grandchildren in 6 years and now number 7 due any minute.  We retired early, then went immediately back to work, me in a new career, husband in an extension of his previous job. Our kids all live close.  It is wonderful.  But, it began to be expected that we would cover the holes in their days.  We “felt bad” when the kids were in daycare, so we picked them up almost every day.  we “felt bad” when oldest daughter or our son didn’t get to “go out”, “have fun” — so we babysat, rented beach houses and invited them all to join us.  We worried that they were short on money, or time, or joy or rest time.  So we worked to “fix it”.  And our kids have become quite comfortable and expecting of our involvement.

And then, it occurred to me that while, for 30 years or so,  I was spending every day and night raising kids and then grandkids,  and had zero hobbies, very few friends and no down time, my husband had been  hunting, fishing, building race cars,  playing darts and helping friends.  Not as much as he wanted, but still , finding time to be him.    There was no time to be me.  I lost me.  I went through years of resentment, laying right under the surface, of the life he had molded me into.  It almost drove us to divorce.  I left for a little bit.  He went buck crazy.  I figured, hell, if he wants it back this bad, maybe it IS worth fighting for.

Over the last couple years, I have pushed back.  We are working to live for us now.  It is our time.  We get to vacation alone,  say no to babysitting,  buy things we want and do things we enjoy. When my youngest says “lucky you” when I say we are at the beach, or at a restaurant, I remind her that when I was her age, or when my kids were her kids  age, I was exactly where she is. We are working hard to remove ourselves from our kids marriages – their arguments, decisions are not our business.  We will listen if they talk, but we will not try to solve their problems.  It is not our job to figure out who gets who off the bus, or to the doctor, or new shoes. I shouldn’t turn around on the way to a business meeting to pick up a child that has a parent who should do it, as hard as it is for me to keep driving straight.   We will help, when we can, when asked, but we are trying to help them not assume we are taking care of these things. Its life altering, not only for us, but, Im sure, for them.

We work full time.  We have a big house. We have sore knees and I have stents in my heart.  We have hobbies and toys and things we want to do.  Sometimes we want to do them with company, with children around. Sometimes we try to connect with old friends that we have ignored for years.  Sometimes we will alter our schedule to spend time with the people we love.  We will honor traditions and be present.  I never missed a hockey game, wrestling match or cheerleading performance.  Never missed a dance recital or a band concert.  Never. But I may miss a couple of these things when my grandchildren do them.  I may choose to sit on the back porch and read the paper or drive to the beach.  I’m going to build that beach house and spend months on end there.  And that is ok.

I declare my Independence.