Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Magic

I bug people.  That may not be news to many, but in this case I am specifically talking about my enthusiasm for this time of year. So perhaps I should say “I bah humbug people!” Ba dum CHINNNNG!!!


Some roll their eyes when my Christmas music blasts beginning November 1st.  Some can’t stand my incessant pinning (ok AND sharing) of holiday decorating ideas I find on Pinterest.  Of course, then there are all-those-pictures in my ‘Holiday 2013’ album on Facebook full of garland making-Christmas tree getting-and Ila in all of her yuletide fineness.  And, although it is a fairly new tradition, we can’t forget, Dancer, our Elf on the Shelf.  I will admit that I go to great lengths to make her show up in the most creative ways. (Even decapitating a new Elf when the dog ate our old Elf...but that is an altogether DIFFERENT story!)  I love daydreaming about all the silly situations that she could get herself into, and all the ways I could pull off  poses that could portray those situations well.
I have been doing quite a bit of reading around the web on the Elf on the Shelf product and I have to say that the hostility some feel towards it quite emphatic.  In fact, I would say that I haven’t come across one article or blog post that had ANY wishy washy feelings about the product at all.  It seems that one either loves or hates it.

I am on the love side, and here’s why:  An Elf on the Shelf, to a child, is magic.  Ila’s reaction to her is just as enchanting.  She bounds out of bed every morning in December and tiptoeing like Elmer Fudd ‘huntin wabbits’ she slinks through the house on the look out for that crazy Elf.  When she finds it there is usually a squeal full of happiness and wonder that stays in my ears for the entire day.  Her face, her twirls, her jumps of joy when she finds Dancer climbing the Christmas tree, swinging from a swing on the dining room chandelier, fishing in the sink, taking a bubble bath of marshmallows... her reactions--well--they are pure, unjaded magic.  Magic: just like music that’s played for only 56 days.  Magic: just like wandering through a Christmas tree farm looking for the pine that will belong to you and your family.  There’s magic in gussying up an otherwise bland and disorganized house for a mere month, or dressing up in a mouse costume and stepping out onto a stage for the first time.   It’s all magic.  To a child, for my daughter, (heck even for my 20 year old), Christmas is a time for simple and pure magic.
Magic is a mission of mine—not a stressful, chaotic, woe-is-me mission—but a mission that I happily set out to complete beginning each and every November because who doesn’t need a little enchantment now and then to remind us that life is so much more than routines?  Christmas, for me, has always been a way to wake up all the senses that have perhaps grown dull and dim over a long year; music to awaken the ears, sumptuous foods to awaken the tongue, balsam, cinnamon, chocolate and peppermint to awaken the nose, candlelight, strings of lights, trees inside the house, red, white, and green paper garland, angels and a little miniature village to awaken the eyes.  At Christmas time I am alive and perhaps just a bit more cognizant of each and every miracle whether big or small that graces my family each day.

However, the allurement of the holidays isn’t just for me.  Most of all, I look forward to the wholesome happiness that it brings my children, and it isn’t about gifts.  That isn’t that kind of magic that I am talking about.  I learned far too late that having 1000 gifts under the tree is an entitlement that I DON’T want Christmas to be about.  I know now that most of the magic of Christmas is in the anticipation, in the things we do to get ready for that big day; the whimsical traditions established for my family that they have come to rely upon, that I have come to rely upon as moments for us to be together, to experience the rarity of slowing down and simply enjoying one another.  

Just this past weekend, my son and his girlfriend, Ila and her dad, and I all crammed into our small kitchen/dining room combo and baked our tushies off!  (And then put them back on as we ate what we baked.)   We do this every year and to tell you the truth, I have come to look forward to THIS day more than any other day connected to the holidays.  There aren’t any gifts to open, but there’s music, laughter, messes...glorious messes...and most of all there is a sense of family that doesn’t seem to replicate itself throughout the year.   Not that we aren’t together during the year...but there is something well...MAGICAL about gathering around a table together to create goodies that will passed out as gifts and become an integral part of the days to come; Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve and Day.  
However, what we are really creating..what we really do on those baking days is make magical memories that will withstand the coming years and what they may bring.  No matter what we may face in the future, we have that Christmas magic from days gone by to remember when we need a reminder of family, and that we are not alone and we have the knowledge that no matter what happens we will always have future magical marvelous moments that will be forever present at Christmas time.

Here's to you Mudders. May you have a Merry Merry Magical Christmas!!  

Monday, November 18, 2013


He breathes in. I breathe out. I breathe in--the antiseptic air burns my nose and makes my mind fuzzy. He breathes out--the hicuppy sobs make him choke and sputter. For a while, this was the only audible sound; breath entering and leaving our lungs. His—shallow and fast paced. The breath of panic. The breath of fear. Perhaps the breath of one who is experiencing withdrawal.  Mine—deep and slow. The breath of seriousness. The breath of resignation. The breath of a mother trying to stay steady. 
I should be speaking. I should be soothing. But where were the words of comfort? I shut my eyes pretending that my son and I were sitting together on a beach, side by side. I tried to smell the suntan lotion, to hear his staccato laugh as he surfed insurmountable waves, but it was no use. We were not on a beach and we were not alone. 
The ever present guard that sat at a small desk in the doorway to my son’s “room” tried to remain inconspicuous, but curiosity often got the best of him and every once in a while he’d glance our way. I imagined he was wondering how this handsome charismatic 17-year-old ended up in the mental health unit of our small town hospital. I wish I could say that I was wondering the same. I winced at the perfidious thought and mentally pushed it aside. 
Out of guilt and hope, I reached for my child’s hand. When it was accepted, I laced my fingers through his long and spindly ones. We both squeezed at the same time. 
“I don’t belong here,” he managed to squeak out. “You know I don’t belong here right? I am not crazy.” 

Read the rest at

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Leaving My Son--For a Moment...Loving Him Forever.

It has been quiet at Muddled Mother.  While I still have been penning my column over at, stories, quips and anecdotes HERE have been scarce.  There have been many reasons for my silence; first, one of my children was suffering and putting it all down on paper, the things that he was going through, would somehow make it a reality.  Not wanting to out one of my children and his problems was another reason.  Sometimes it was merely that writing about it would mean that I'd have to think about it more than I already had--and honestly, I didn't have the strength to put my fingers on the keys.  However, the biggest reason would probably have been my state of mind; mentally as the problems began piling up, I began to break down.  It is hard to explain what happened to me, it was as if every cell, fiber, bone, muscle, layer of skin had been saturated with a lethal combination of fear, rage, incredulousness, bewilderment, shame, embarrassment, guilt, and the deepest sadness that I have ever experienced (and that is pretty deep, says the clinically depressed woman).  These feelings inundated me day in and day out without a break.  There were constant emails, constant phone calls, constant meetings, constant in-your-face-you-suck-mom moments.   There were incessant abusive texts, there was the sadness of a little girl who missed her brother.  The whispering and tsk tsking was enough to make me sit in an arm chair at night willing my mind to allow me to fling myself through the plate glass window of the sliding door, imagining that THAT pain would perhaps lessen the mental anguish that peppered me by day, by hour, by minute, by second.

The worse the situation became the more unstable I became.  Every time my phone rang, or the PA in my classroom went off, or my email jingled, I reacted the way one would react at the realization that a car was going to hit him or her and there was nothing that he or she could do about it.  I shook, I gasped for air, I wailed, I sweat, my ears rang, my heart rate went up, my hands wrung over and over until I had rubbed raw the knuckle bones on my pointer fingers, my skin felt as if thousands of needles were piercing its surface.  In a nutshell, I began to have full on panic attacks whenever the subject of my lost son came up.

Although the nightmare isn't over, back in early June (without going into to too much detail) a sort of resolution, at least one that I hoped would keep him safe and provide him help, came to fruition.  My son is extremely angry with me, but I am a parentless daughter and so no matter how much wrath he threw my way my main goal throughout this tumultuous year, was to stay in my son's life by sending "rah rah" texts daily as well as the reminders of my love for him. Many times, it seems like 12,000, he'd tell me to leave him be.   I usually ignored the angry texts telling myself that they came from an altered mind and that "a good mother" would never stop...would never let go.  Family means no one gets left behind. I wouldn't do to him what had happened to me.  A "good mother" wouldn't.

However on the 12,001st request to leave him the "expletive" alone...I took him up on it.  I gave myself permission.  I let go.  It was the scariest decision I have ever made.  In fact the night I made it, I dreamed I was at an amusement park with my children and they all got on one of those giant slingshot thingies.  As the ride operator ratcheted them back farther and farther, I pulled at his waist, clawed at his back and kept screaming that I hadn't gotten on the ride and that no one--NO ONE--had belted them in, and sure enough as the slingshot let son, THE son, flew into the milky way.  His body spun and spun and spun, cartwheeling maniacally and I was sure that he was lost forever.  I woke up in one of those full on panic attacks as if the dream really happened...and in a way, I guess it had.

"A good mother" would never stop, never give up, never let go.  "A good mother."  It was the reel in my head all year; every time I hit a bureaucratic brick wall or came up against the ignorance of my ex, or was verbally accosted by a son whom I loved with all I have.  "A good mother doesn't stop."  So I exhausted every avenue, tried every suggestion, talked to every friend that had a law degree, discussed and implemented plans with Doctor Speed Dial, called the adults involved in his situation daily to get updates, to GIVE updates, to plead, to beg, to borrow, I visited my local assemblyman to try and change the laws that kept me from helping my son (more on that in future columns) and wrote letters to everyone, anyone that I could think of who may have some kind of leverage to do whatever it took to get him the help he needed.

So, when that day came, the day I decided to let go, I was able to do it, not WHOLEheartedly, but at least with part of my heart.  On the day I let go, I could look myself in the mirror, really stare myself down and know, that I did everything that I possibly could have done, gave every part of me that I had, turned over every stone, I did what a "good mother" would do.  And it didn't work...not right away anyway, but maybe someday.  I was also sure that, unlike me and those that let me go, my son knows beyond a shadow of a doubt, somewhere in the recesses of his very deep and vast mind, that he will have my love forever.  That my arms, my heart and soul are open to hold him whenever, where ever, however.

I choose now to take care of myself so that I can be fully present for the rest of my family.  And so, while I use this summer to heal my exhausted adrenal gland, my weary mind and my wounded soul, I hope beyond all measure that my son, my dear, dear, funny, charming, smart son is using the summer the very same way.  

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Disney Princesses--Distressed Daft Damsels.

Upon finding out that the child I was carrying was a girl (maybe even eons before) I vowed the vow of a mother’s will that my daughter would not under any circumstances be one of those—ugh—princess girls.  Princesses, at least the ones that I grew up with, were weak and daft, consumed with their looks and gowns and unable to solve life’s problems without the help of that ever handsome, ever tall, ever strong, ever wise prince or knight in shining armor.  Blech.  Double blech.  It certainly didn’t help that I read voraciously over and over ‘those’ types of books my entire childhood and I BELIEVED and tried desperately to live out the scandalous lie that there would always be a man to scoop you up and set you right.
Being forty and pregnant, Hindsight was already working (although I hadn’t realized it yet.)  I had somewhat cynically learned that there were in fact no knights, no princes and even the more unsettling lesson that those of the opposite gender could actually be the ones who put the princesses in peril. 

Click the link below to read the rest!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Do As I DO!! How to Be an Example So That Your Child Can Handle a Bully.

For the last two years I have been working on a book, Hindsight In-Sight, that chronicles the mishaps, mistakes and just plain ol’ stupidity that occurred parenting two boys as a young twenty and thirty something single parent who was simultaneously fighting off a dragon of an ex and a set of grandparents determined to show me the error of my ways.  The book, as many do, has gone through a myriad of changes and rewrites thanks to writing coach, Brooke Warner, and her stupendous and enlightening suggestions and gentle nudging.  However, the essence of it remains the same since the day that the idea was born; the book was and is a testament to the old adage, “Do as I SAY and not as I DID.”

This past weekend, while working on a specific chapter about bullying, my mind began to formulate a list of suggestions not only for me to follow to keep Ila out of that kind of situation, but to help other parents equip their own children.  While writing, an unusual feeling of shame began to envelope me and at first I couldn’t figure it out.  I thought perhaps it was the shame that came with the ineptitude with which I handled Son1’s bully experience.  But I was pretty sure I had worked those feeling all out of me with the initial writing of the chapter the year before (thanks to a superb cheerleader that kept reminding me to ‘Do the hard Work!’)  Then I thought that perhaps the shame came from the fact that Son2 has his own issues. Not with bullies but with BEING the bully.  However once again, I dismissed that as being the origin of the shame knowing full well that THAT particular problem had been covered thoroughly in intense therapy sessions with Dr. Speed Dial.  Nope…the shame, growing with every word added to the suggestion list, was coming from somewhere else.  And so as I often do with emotions I can’t identify, I stopped what I was doing, sat still and quiet and posed the question to myself.  (I know.  I know…I just lost a WHOLE bunch of readers who clicked off the site shaking their heads about new age mumbo jumbo.)  But—this technique works for me, and usually it is the voice of Hindsight that speaks to me.  It was no different in this case.  Hindsight had the answer. It started as a whisper…a reminder of the book’s idea that one should do as I say and not as I did.  Then came the idea that as parents we strive to do the opposite of that saying; in other words, we try to make sure our actions are in line with the way we would like our children to act.  And then, from this idea came the reason for the shame. 

When it came to bullying, I was NOT setting a good example for my children.  One of the things that I had learned (really that Son1 had learned the hard way) was that the saying, “you get more flies with honey” did NOT work with those who had a mean streak or needed to feel a sense of power.  I had always taught both boys that if someone was mean to them that they continue to smile and be pleasant because A. one should never give some maniacal meanie the satisfaction of knowing they were getting to you and B. that perhaps if you kept being nice they’d see the light.  They’d feel bad for the abuse thwarted upon you and stop out of the goodness of their hearts, or at the very least let you know what it was that they didn’t like about you. But like Son1 learned so many years back, that just DOESN’T work. 

And yet, and yet...even though Hindsight had taught me that lesson so many years before, I had been playing out the “flies and honey” scenario for months with some bullies of my own.  I had not been living, acting, doing what it was that I was writing about, what I wanted Ila to know and what so many other parents needed to teach their own children. 

Bullying unfortunately is pervasive in our society and doesn’t stop when one happens to turn 18 years old.  HECK it doesn’t seem to stop when one turns thirty or forty or even fifty, and I was experiencing it all; the talking behind my back, exclusionary tactics, villainizing my actions or lack of action to justify their behavior, mean and harsh words said to others about me, the Eddie Haskell smiles while I was in the vicinity but eye rolls and snickers when they thought I wasn’t around.  How did I handle it?  Shamefully, the same way I told the boys to so long ago—just keep smiling…just keep smiling.  How has THAT been working?  Well, just about as well as it had worked for Son1 so long ago.  Instead of feeling bad for continually kicking a girl who kept getting up with her hands and arms wide open…the despotic behavior continued because, like Son1, I was an easy target and one can’t ever count on all humans having good hearts.  It is easy to get caught up in the “Let’s all gang up on…” mentality.  I have regretfully done it myself to colleagues and acquaintances. 

However, I realized that if I was going to talk the talk, I had to walk the walk.  In order to be a different parent, it couldn’t just be in theory.  It has to be an actuality.  When I picture the adults I want my children to be it means that I HAVE to be that adult.  Right now.  Even if I wasn’t the day before, the minute before, the second before.  When it comes to the subject of bullying, I want my children to end up being adults that refuse to join in a mob mentality against one or two outcasts.  And so…I have to be the adult that refuses to join in the browbeating of others.  And at the same time, if I expect that my children will have enough pride to set clear boundaries against those who choose to malign them, then I must do the same.

So instead of formulating the list, I am going to be its guinea pig and DO the list.  I will not allow anyone to hurt me mentally (or physically, although that isn’t taking place).  If they do, I will not be an easy target and pretend that it didn't take place.  I will stand up and call the bullies out.  I will no longer walk away from whispers that carry my name—I will demand that anything said about me will be said to me.  I will not be vilified so that someone’s conscience will be clear only to be left in the dark about the so called complaints that one may have about me.  I will instead stand firm and demand that I be treated respectfully or be left alone. As an adult, I do understand the nuances of standing up for oneself.  It doesn't mean that I have to hate those who love to hate me.  It doesn't mean that I am not able to work or be around those who are constantly sizing me up for the next dis. It doesn't mean that I have to be as unpleasant as they are.   No.   What it means is that I will make it very clear to those around me on what kind of behavior I will accept and what I will not accept when it comes to my dignity and self-worth.  This, of course, is exactly what I'd want for my own daughter.

There is a story that Oprah tells of Maya Angelou in which during a dinner party at Maya’s house, someone in a very large crowd tells a malevolent joke that impugned a specific group of people.  The story goes that in the middle of the party and from across the room, Maya doles out what Oprah calls a “skinning” not allowing anyone around her to demean any person or group.  After the skinning she promptly tells the guest to leave.  After telling the story, Oprah asks Maya where that kind of bravery comes from.  Maya’s answer was simple.  She said, “You start out small.”  So Mudders, while it may take us many many years  to become brave enough to stand up to bullies in that way, we must strive to act, think and speak in a way that warns a bully that we are strong and will stand up for what’s right.  After all, we can do no less than what we would expect each one of our children to do.                                

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Don't Forget...Things the Graduate Needs to Know

My Dearest Graduate,

Congratulations!  Such a milestone—finishing high school.  Your grace and poise and  unrivaled work ethic is such a rarity these days.  How proud your parents must be; your extended family, the ones you love, the fortunate ones who call you friend—how proud, but not surprised…not at all. 

I know I don’t have to tell you of my unending admiration and love for you, for that passionate heart and that virtuous soul which holds such wisdom already for one so young.  Those feelings for you, I wear on my sleeve.  Anyone who knows me knows of the deep and abiding love I have for you. No, I don’t think I have to remind you of that here.  However, there IS something I want to tell you, something I want you to know before you leave on a day in August that will be mixed with melancholy and pride and excitement and a missing-you-feeling that will begin the moment you drive down our driveway and off to your new adventure.   I need to tell you.  It is important. 

You are enough. You are worthy, so very worthy.

You are worthy of an intellectual journey.  Drink in all that your professors have to say.  Take advantage of educational experiences abroad.  Join clubs.  Act, sing, dance—Grab those four years of literacy, mathematics, history and science and squeeze the life out of them.  You are worthy my dear of the best that education can offer.  Your brain is capable, your thoughts valuable, your contributions endless and needed.  Yes sweet girl, you are worthy. 

You are worthy of loyalty and love without compromise.  As you move into adulthood make a promise to yourself that you will seek out those who see your value, who know your goodness, who build you up and would never tear you down.  When you find them, hold onto them, because you see they are scarce in this world.  But scarcity does not mean that you settle.  You will need those that are true to you on your life course.  You are worthy of nothing less. Never ever accept anyone who isn’t keenly aware and fiercely protective of your worth. 

You are worthy of finding your purpose.  Take your time.  Let it come.  There is no rush.  Experience life to the fullest, try new things and someday…there it will be…your reason, your destiny.  And whatever it is that you find, you are worthy of exploring it to its highest possibility.  Don’t let anything stand in the way of who you want to become, of your earthly purpose.  If you fulfill that, everything else will fall into place. 

You are worthy of self-interest.  My sweet girl, in all my 44 years, I have never met a human being whose empathy is as profound as yours.  Your acceptance of all no matter—no matter-- is something to be celebrated indeed, but be sure it doesn’t cost you more than you can pay—your sanity, your peace of mind, your ability to do what you want to do, see what you want to see, go where you want to go.  The selflessness that you carry within you is admirable, but let me suggest or even urge that over the next few years, as you enter into adulthood that you remember to put yourself first more often than you do now.  You and your needs are worth it.  Rumi says to “Respond to any call that excites your spirit.” This quote should be the battle cry of the young!  I am certainly not saying “go ahead and be selfish,” for I know you too well and it just couldn’t ever happen.  I am simply saying that words like “what is it that I want for myself?” and “I won’t take part in what wouldn’t be good for what I need right now,” are words that should move to the forefront of that beautiful mind of yours.  Believe me, when you start your career, when you marry, when you have children, when your parents age there will be plenty of moments where selflessness and sacrifice will be necessities and must-do’s.  But at 18…it is perfectly ok to do what is best for you.  Don’t ever forget that that doing for yourself is something in which you are worthy.

Graduating high school is a milestone, but it brings with it both the good and the bad.  The good, of course, is that you are on your way!  Where?  Who knows and how absolutely marvelous is that?  Oh the possibilities.  However the downside of taking small steps towards adulthood is that you lose a bit of the protection one affords to a “child.”  It will be time now for you to fight your battles.  It will be time for you to decide your daily routine, your nightly routine.  It will be up to you to make moral and capable decision about who you associate yourself with, where you decide to go and the situations in which you put yourself.  And that is why knowing your worth is unambiguously essential. 

When friends turn on you (and they will) you may not even know why, but if you know you are worthy of true friendship, it will be easier to face the sting of rejection and hold your head as high as your standards.

When your heart is broken or love leaves, knowing your worth may not take the emptiness away, but it will reassure you that someday someone else will come along.  After all you are worth love.

When a chance comes along, one that may take sacrifice, but is too good to pass up, you will go for it with the knowledge that you are worthy of the chance.

When you doubt yourself, when you stumble and make a mistake it will be your feelings of worth that will help you to brush yourself off and try again. You have to feel worthy enough to persevere even in the face of impossible odds. 

And finally my marvelous, magnificent, miraculous girl, you must feel worthy about yourself because when it comes right down to it…down to the nitty gritty…YOU are all you’ve got.  Despite what the fairy tales tell us, there are NO knights in shining armor whose sole purpose is to rescue damsels in distress, no princes on white horses, no magical fairy godmothers.  You only have you and your sense of self-worth to get you to where you want to travel, to pull you up by the boot straps when you slip and fall.  Only your worthy self can turn your saddest days into happy ones, and your darkest places into light.  My sweet girl for your future you must rely on yourself.  So I have just one question:  Are you WORTH it?  

Friday, March 22, 2013

I'll Be Loving You...ALWAYS! (Get it??)

Photo Credit (Brenda Hollaway)

“Why does she keep doing that?”  exclaimed a very observant student in my classroom last week.  If you were standing next to him, you would have known that he was talking about what seemed to be a new dance move.  In the middle of my lessons, I would stop talking, cross my legs, squeeze my body as upright as it could be and gently, as gently as one can, I would cough or sneeze.  Nevertheless, I assure you the cross-legged-up-right-squeeze had nothing at all to do with a new dance craze.  Nothing.  At.  All. 

 So moms get sick.   This isn’t news.  We get sick and we continue our days as if we aren’t sick.  This isn’t news either.  I would go so far to say that moms could actually believe even in the face of a 102 on a thermometer, kidney pains, chills and sweats, a hacking cough and sneezes into the hundreds, that they just have a titch of a cold that will go away…soon.  Therefore,  it is perfectly fine to keep on keepin’ on like we always do; morning routine, schlepping kids to day care, off to work with a cheery smile on our green tinged faces, working through the runny noses by shoving tissues up our sleeves for those little emergencies, putting on a sweater (“is it chilly in here?”) taking off the sweater, (“who turned up the freakin’ heat?”) Whatever comes with the flu and sick season, we ignore because well how WOULD the world revolve without us running it?    We are moms, Mudders.  Ignoring a big fat phlegmy flu is what think we must do.

However…there is one thing that MAY come with a flu or cold or say searing bronchial virus that we Mudders are unable to ignore.  We may try at first, but ultimately for the sake of hygiene and those around us, heck for the sake of the size of the laundry in the hamper we cannot ignore the incontinence that comes with a humongous hacking cough or a significant-sized sneeze.  That’s right, girls, you heard me.  I said it…incontinence, incontinence, incontinence. 

You know how it goes…cough cough—drip drip—“Shit shit!!”  Or in my case, hack hack—pour pour—“Shit! Shit!”  If you have had the pleasure of a weak pelvic floor due to the “joyous” process called childbirth, you are nodding your head right now.  Yes you are nodding and I am about to SING it girls!

This past week, I did what Mudders do.  I had a virus.  I ignored said virus.  I went to work as if there wasn’t a thing wrong with me.  Moreover, when I say ignore, I mean totally and utterly ignore.  If you are following me here that means that not only did I not go to the doctors or take medicine, I did not even think to…ehem…prepare my delicates for the incontinence that was sure to take place with every sneeze and every cough.   And because of my denial, I was constantly placed in a situation where at any moment, with the next sneeze or the next cough, I could very well wet my pants in front of all my students.  So I did the dance of shame; legs crossed, muscles squeezed as tightly as they can, stand tall and COOOOUUUGHHH and SNEEEEEEEZE—gently—oh so gently—unfortunately a raging bronchial virus doesn’t allow for gentle anything…and so there were of course the occasional--drip-slips.  Oh, don’t act as if you don’t know what they are!  You are ALL feeling me and you KNOW it!! 

However, even those drip-slips couldn’t make me admit defeat.  I didn’t need Depends or a bulky pad…no, no.  Toilet paper would do the trick, and so after my first drip-slip, I headed to the teacher’s bathroom folded myself up a nice stack of TP and placed it where the sun don’t shine.  It may have meant that I headed to the bathroom an inordinate amount of times to change the soggy fibrous paper that kept giving me giant whoo-whoo wedgies, but hey, it was doing the trick and perpetuated my denial that I was handling this teeny tiny little cold just fine.

Then Saturday day came and it was just me, Ila and teeny tiny little cold that just happened to make me gasp for air as a teenage girl gasps when she sees Justin Bieber.   I was home and so there was no need for that irritating TP.   Instead, ever in mommy-denial, as the hacks got worse and the drip-slips turned to rain-drains, (you heard me) I took to changing my skivvies and sweat pants every hour on the hour…until…until I ran out.  Yup—ran clean out of clean undies.  Not a pair to be found in the top drawer of my dresser.  Honestly, I can’t ever remember a time where there wasn’t at least SOME pair of clean hip huggers that I could fish out at a moment’s notice.  This dear readers was a first, and with the first came a realization—I.  Was.  Sick.  I must be sick…I was out of skivvies, out of sweats and out of my beloved Vera Wang silky pajama bottoms.   All were dejectedly sitting in the hamper at the end of the hall, a little wet, a little stinky and extremely indicative of the level of my illness.
And so, I did what any mother does when shaken out of sick-denial.  I called my doctor, who after listening to me gasp for air told me to go to my local emergency room immediately.  Of course, “immediately” posed a problem for me because “I hadn’t a thing to wear.”  And while that phrase conjures images of me tossing skirts and jeans and cashmere sweaters over my head, it was meant of course in its most literal sense…I hadn’t an UNDERTHING to wear.  So with a hopeful heart, I walked to the basement laundry room hoping that with all the other duties he took on during my sick-week-that-I-was-not –sick, my husband perhaps had done SOME kind of laundry.  (Although the size of the hamper upstairs didn’t give me much hope…after all…he is a great caretaker, but I am sure that even HE drew the line at washing all my drip-slips and rain-drains.) 

But lucky for me, a “sort” of undergarment was clean…all right it was a Spanx body suit…but this girl was desperate.  So after slipping that on, I had to find something that would be comfortable enough for a stay at the emergency room.  I decided on my hubby’s Nike running pants (much to his dismay.  Can you blame the guy?)  However, dear Mudders, I do know that wearing your husband’s Nike running pants comes with great responsibility.   So I doubled up the amount of toilet paper and tucked it into the body suit.  I willed myself not to cough or sneeze as I rode in the car, and instead of driving right to the emergency room, stopped into my local Walgreens to buy a package of bulky pads.  You know the kind—smaller than a breadbasket and bigger than my hand with wings to wrap around the sides of my makeshift undergarment. The kind would be sure to protect my husband’s beloved Nike running pants from the rain-drains that would certainly continue because there is no denying the incontinence that a Mudder gets when she is indeed sick. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Repeat After Me--Teachers=Trust. Again, Teachers=Trust.

I don't often promote other writing here on my blog...don't want you Mudders inundated with inane posts.  However, this article by Oprah's Phenomenal Man of the Year and Disney's Teacher of the Year is so incredibly dead on.  I would love for you all to read it and post it on your pages as well.  I have taught for 22 years and this article couldn't be more true.  Let's NOT be THESE parents, Mudders and Fudders.  Let's just not do it. Click the link below.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Fasten Your Seat Belts Mommies!

The laughter was loud and sliced through my ears, my entire being in fact.  The joviality was so out of place.  Didn't these people know that there was suffering going on right under their noses?  I instantly felt irritated with the crowded desk area in our local family court.  The bailiffs (there were many), the clerks, the secretaries, the lawyers stood in a cluster happily talking of Ipads and websites and new technology.  They were telling jokes and talking of plans for the weekend.  I tried to focus on something else, but I was the sole human in the front waiting room (ours was the last hearing before lunch).  Around the corner and behind me, my son sat with his father and his step mother waiting for the same hearing.  But focusing on them just made me more irritated with their united front, with the fact that I (who had raised this child for the majority of his life) was the one sitting alone, with the fact that I was at court for the second time in my parenting career.  ALL of  it was irritating, rage inducing, and just plain ol' exhausting.

However, incredulously, life went on around me.  I wondered did these people know something that I didn't know?  Didn't they have problems in their lives? Are they just as stunned when in the midst of suffering someone near them laughs?  Do they think that laughter out of place as well?

Mercifully, when they call our name, the bailiffs  the lawyers, the clerks and secretaries returned to professionalism.  Their faces reflected the somber feeling that one should have as a mother follows her child into a court room.fate unknown.  Sitting behind him tears streaming, hands wringing a shredded tissue was truly the lowest point of my parenting journey.  But as a parent whether of a troubled child or not, life is a roller coaster complete with all of the terrors and adrenaline pumping aspects that you'd expect.  And just like that roller coaster, staying at the lowest point doesn't last long and the hill climbing begins almost immediately.

Listening intently in the stark room I hear phrases like "doing better", and "volunteering for services not required."  I hear "I want help" and "Yes sir" from my child's mouth.  All of these utterances come as surprises because I am not privy to what goes on in my son's life. Seeing him is sporadic for reasons that are unknown to me and I don't allow myself to often ponder his absence because it is agonizing to my soul.  But it seemed, sitting in that brown paneled official room that possibly, something had shifted in that boy that I love with all the fierceness of a mother.  Could he be turning a corner?

Leaving the court room my son says a humble and shy goodbye to me.  The rarity of that exchange coupled with the positive reports to the judge made me feel like that roller coaster rider at the top of a steep hill.  I wanted to shoot my arms into the air and scream with glee as I am sure many parents symbolically do when things are good for their children or if something not good is getting better.  I am sure that most parents who reach the top of that metaphoric hill will relax their shoulders, will fill their lungs with oxygen; taking the deepest breath they have taken in a long time.  I am sure that when things are going smoothly for these parents' children they are able to unbuckle their seat belts after assuring themselves that the roller coaster ride has come to an end.  But I refuse to unbuckle the belt on my seat, and I often wonder if there are any other parents out there who experience the phenomenon that I experience.

Let me explain.  For me, perhaps for all moms of troubled children, hope is a dangerous emotion.    Today there is a bit of hope in my heart.  That beloved son of mine is making improvements. No calls from school for over a week, a kind and respectful attitude, even a dinner visit to satisfy his little sister's heart who was missing him something terribly.  And I wish, how I wish I could relax my shoulders.  How I long for that deep breath to fill my pinched lungs.  How I long to unbuckle the seat belt.  But I just can't.  As a mom of a troubled son, I am just not ready to trust that the ride is over.  If the anger, resentment, poor choices, entitlement and vindictiveness return I will need that safety harness.  How shameful I feel for doubting the staying power of this change.  How guilty a mom can feel for when the confidence she has in her child's ability to treat himself with kindness and pride and thoughtfulness is close to nil.

And yet, and yet a mother always hopes.  "Maybe this time it will be different."  That barely audible whisper tickles down in my ear and at the back of my mind making both the ear and the mind ache with a hope that is  truly unwanted.  Hope, you see is toxic to moms of troubled children.  Hope weakens the straps on that safety belt; the straps that steel us against the lows on the roller coaster that seem endless and cruel.  In a warped way good things, rationality and sane choices made and done by our troubled children are  fear inducing because it gives a mother (or maybe it is just me.  Is it just me?) It gives me permission to allow my guard to be let down ever so slightly.  I may let go of the bar in the front of the roller coaster's car just to give my fingers a rest from gripping so tightly, I could roll my neck to relieve it of the pain that comes from being shaken around those pesky loops.  And while preoccupied with my sore fingers and shaking off the pain in my neck, I wouldn't be prepared for the big and scary drop that may be just ahead around the corner.  And so this mom, this mom of a child who needs more help than she is capable of giving, will pull the strap tighter on the safety belt, will white knuckle the bar in front of her, will keep her shoulders up to her ears, because moms like me need to be vigilant, ever vigilant for the next drop on a roller coaster we never wanted to ride in the first place.