30 + YEARS ANNIVERSARY

It has been a long while since I have blogged. I just couldn’t do it. The pain of B’s infidelity stung… morning, noon, and night. I felt stupid, angry and flogged myself way too often for my contributions to where we had gotten. Mostly, I just felt numb. Numb, not depressed numb, but numb to the point where love slips away and its existence becomes a distant memory. You know the kind. It’s like when you sit the wrong way and you try to stand up and almost fall down because your foot is all tingly and numb. The tingle hurts and the numb hurts worse…that is how I felt the first month of knowing.

The second month has gotten better. More tingle and less numb. B finally confessed all to his therapist and we have been seeing our joint one often. In addition, I see my therapist at least once a week…she helps keep my head above water when I feel like I have no more energy to keep kicking.

One of our son’s mental health has deteriorated after the discovery. It has been a very fine tightrope we have been walking keeping him on track and it has become obvious that just one of us alone could not cope with all the facets that unstable mental health brings to a family. I weep for this child of mine and hope that we can get him stable again because as a couple we are strong and steady against the storm that mental illness  inflicts on all involved.

B has been trying hard. Very hard. He is doing all the things he should have been doing for the past three years that he was cultivating his relationship with her. He has also come to see what that relationship for what it was…a woman who obtained a lot of money from a guy who had created the perfect woman in a delusional and illusional affair that was mostly conducted in his head. To me she remains a very expensive blow-up doll with a face painted on in whatever way it needed to be in order to convince B that she was his soul mate.

We have had our ups and downs. I have finally come to a place where I don’t ask a question or ask for clarification numerous times a day. One of these days I hope to be able to find a container to put all this painful crap in but I am not sure there is one that is big enough to hold it all. Or for that matter, find a container that is strong enough to hold all the toxins that have been leaching out of marriage. It feels dangerous… like nuclear waste seeping from those old storage barrels buried deep underground.

A little over two months ago I took off my wedding rings and returned the “committment” ring to B. It has been strange looking down and not seeing what I has been on my finder for the past 30+ years especially while his remains attached to him. This void remains a constant reminder of all that has been lost for so long. Trying to “repair” it has been like searching for buried treasure and getting suffocated by sand which keeps falling back into the hole.

ONE MONTH LATER

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Well, things are getting better with a lot of hard work and hard listening. It’s painful but necessary if we are going to be able to keep this marriage going for both our sakes and our children. Can we climb this mountain and reach the top? I am not 100% sure but the odds are improving slowly but surely.

Today is our 30+ Wedding Anniversary. We are alone (daughter Nicole has the kids…thanks sweetheart!) on an island off the coast of Honduras. It is fun discovering ourselves as a couple again and I am enjoying B more than I have in a long time. I think he feels that same about me too. Laughing together so much is akin to a knitting needle stitching together those frayed ends of our marriage but this time we are using bright colors that match in order to shake up what remains of the threads of our lives. With my permission, tonight at dinner B put my wedding ring back on my finger as the sun sank below the horizon.I think it will serve as a good reminder to me to keep putting into place those things we are practicing in order to strengthen our relationship. It was a lovely evening sitting at our own private table about two-feet away from the water’s edge.  It defininately was A Once In A Lifetime kind of evening.

Of course, an island getaway does not guarantee a future together but with the changes we are both trying to incorporate into our lives there is once again hope, which is so badly needed, if any sort of permanent repair is to be made. I am just hoping that we can bring back with us some of the playfulness and admiration that we have found for one another over the past month.

Since this all began almost three years ago I have been in more pain than I ever thought I could endure. Forget global warming…I have personally made the water level of our oceans rise with all the tears I have shed. But, I have also come a long way working on myself and those parts which have needed my attention. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I was and braver than Braveheart himself.  I am proud of who I have become,who I am yet to discover, and I am finally learning to sit with my emotions rather than let them control me. The only consistent thing that has happened is that I have loved B throughout all of this; even when I didn’t like him very much. In my mind the tenacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other when I could have thrown in the towel is something to be admired. While I know many will not agree I have to say that, for me, I know I have no regrets because I have taken the time to hang on rather than turn and run prematurely as I had done in my first marriage. Now I know that no matter what, I will have no regrets because it isn’t about B so much anymore…it’s mostly about me!

So hello from Honduras. May the remainder of my days resemble this one and may my love for myself stay strong!IMG_0365

 

 

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Betrayal II-Liar, Liar Your Dicks On Fire

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So the saga of my thirty+ year marriage continues.

After being assured by my husband that he loves me and will do anything for his family I told him I needed to have completed access to his phone which he agreed to. I asked many questions including wether he had seen her or not. He assured me that he had not and that she would not have sex with him if he was with his wife…how noble of her!

Later my oldest daughter Nicole called me. She said, ” I am sending you a picture that you need to see. It is dad with her in Singapore. She put the picture up after you emailed her.” (In that email I told her she was a fool and told her that she was not the only one he was doing this with. Did she really think that she was the only one?)

B and I were taking a walk with me asking questions. I opened the photo and saw him with the Chickie. He spent four days in Singapore fucking her last January. I asked him again, “Did you see her in Singapore?”

“No”

“Really, so what is this?” I asked showing him the picture.

“I don’t know who that is”

“It is you with her in Singapore, you dick. Recognize it now?”

He went white.

“I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to lose you or my family.”

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Soon another text from my daughter. Worse still…seems my husband’s sister Jo is Friends with Chickkie on Facebook. I saved her daughter’s life and that is the thanks that I get. WOW! To me, for whatever reason, that is the biggest betrayal of them all. You love her so much you are already having your sister welcome her to the family!

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More texts from my daughter. The woman has four Facebook pages all with different names. My daughter then sends her a message that says “If you keep in touch with my Dad I will send your naked picture all over the internet including on your tour company site.” (Honey, I don’t think you should do that!)

The very unfortunate thing about all this is our children found out. I was packing to leave and told my son “Dad has hurt me deeply and I need a few days to clear my head. This has nothing to do with your you, your brother or sister. Sometimes adults disappoint each other and just like you need time away from your brother I need a little time away from your father, not you.”

He turned away from me angry and wouldn’t let me touch him.

“Honey, this is not my fault. This is due to a hurt that your Dad has done.”

B jumped in. “It is all my fault. Don’t blame your mother. I did something that hurt her very much and she didn’t deserve it. I am hoping she can forgive me (yeah thanks for putting that part in…making it my fault if I don’t forgive him…that is slick!)

Remember the telephone at the beginning of all of this…this is where it gets ugly.

Before I left I went and asked to see B’s phone. He said no.

“You promised,” I replied.

He handed it over nervously. I went to messenger and saw Chickie’s sister’s Face Time at the very top so I pressed the button. He went ballistic and tried to grab the phone. I tried to keep it away from  him. He grabbed me by the arm that just got out of the sling. One thing led to another and because he was hurting me…I bit him. Over thirty years of marriage and we have never had a physical altercation in our entire lives…until now. At this point our kids walked in the front door and her us yelling about HER (they have never heard us yelling like that at each other EVER). I got the phone and went into the bathroom. My hands were shaking so hard, well, that darn IPhone jumped out of my hand and into the toilet. Now neither of us could talk to her.

“I guess if she doesn’t matter to you like you have said, you wouldn’t have cared if I called her but obviously she means more to you than I do. Tell you what your fears have all come true. Everyone knows and you have imploded our family. Now go to her. You are free.”

My son went outside and lost it and started hyperventilating and saying he couldn’t feel his legs and it went down from there into a full collapse. I spent time trying to calm him…it was the worst thing I have ever felt in my heart, ever.  Gracie wouldn’t come out from under her covers. We have a totally traumatized family.

I am sleeping at a friends house. My life is a shambles. My kids are traumatized. My husband is without a job.

Life is good…and then it is not.

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Saying YES To The Ring

I have been pondering for the past couple of days how to write this post. I have started it, deleted it and started it again many times. For at this point, what I am about to write is embarrassing, very confusing, and probably tiring to all who read my blog.  Frankly, I know that if this on-and-off again relationship was happening to a friend or my daughters I would say, “Get the fuck out! You deserve a man who wants all of you all of the time!”

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Yet, sometimes life is not that cut-and-dried no matter how hard we try to make it so. Over thirty years of marriage is a long time together. It is doubly hard when you have two boys with autism and who do not do well with change. Add to that three children who have already lost their original families and splitting up becomes fraught with minefields that just are not present in most families.

Now to tell you this particular story I have to take you back to October. It was then that B asked me what I wanted for Christmas. At that time I flippantly told him a commitment ring but frankly I thought that the possibility of receiving one was nil. Winning the lottery had better odds. And anyway, who doesn’t like a ring, right, so what was the harm in asking?

Fast forward to Christmas night. As we were winding down from the days festivities I told B I thought we should tell the kids tomorrow that we were separating. Tears came to B’s eyes and all of a sudden he called the kids down to do THE board. You see, every year on Christmas day and July 4th, we measure our kids to see how much they have grown (seems we will need a longer board for Andre next July.) Then, just as the kids were about to go upstairs B told them to wait and proceeded to say. “Hey, guys, there is one more present here and it is for your mom.”

With that, he walked over to his briefcase and pulled out a jewelry box and in it sat a woven silver and gold ring. Nothing elaborate (that is not who I am) and nothing too expensive (not me either). As I looked at the ring in shock he said something to me and the kids along the order of:

“The silver in this ring represents our Silver Anniversary (25th) while the gold represents striving toward our Gold Anniversary (50th). In this ring there are little breaks and holes that represent life and how during our lives we have to navigate through them, around them, and out of them; to get back on the path we have chosen. So I am giving your Mom this ring to show her that I am committed  and will continue to try working together to reach our Golden Anniversary.”

My first thought: Maybe he really does love me…and tears

My second thought: I am not sure I want this. Maybe it really is time to be out on my own.

My third thought: Why did he say this in front of the kids?

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Luckily, the next day was Tuesday, the day I see my therapist. She said:

“I’m confused.”

That made two of us.

So we talked about the conflicting feelings this brought up. About how for the last week every time we talked about leaving and splitting up our family we both cried. How our guts were both twisted in knots and how discussing dividing children, assets and animals was devastating. And that in this heartache we had gotten closer at least for the past few weeks but that it should be viewed as temporary.

In the end, I decided to accept the ring…for now. Instead of deluding myself into thinking this ring is a piece of jewelry that signifies B’s commitment to me for life; I have decided to view it as a day-to-day pledge until I decide otherwise.

Last night we went to our joint therapist and I asked for clarification regarding the ring, the commitment and why he said what he did in front of the kids.I will say that I received some very well thought through answers to my questions and that we both acknowledged that we have a long way to go to save this marriage if it is even possible.

At this point I have no real answers about life or the status of my marriage. What I do know is that every day we manage to make it is one more day our children have had a chance to grow older and more mature. It is one more day that we have successfully re-committed to working hard and to trying our best to listen to what is in the others heart and act accordingly. And it is one more day that we have attempted to let love win, move towards acceptance of both ourselves and the other, and its one more time that we have had the chance to try to find peace in a relationship that once had little.

Sometimes life is hard.

Sometimes life is isn’t.

And maybe, just maybe, given a little more time, the hard times will decrease and the good times will grow more frequent and blossom. And maybe someday I will realize good times and bad are just part of life and that is just the way it is and I won’t take it personally. And maybe, just maybe when the good times are abundant I will be able to rejoice in them knowing that I have done everything humanly possible to make them happen….with or without him.

 

 

 

Out With The Old (2017) And In With The New!!! Or Get Me The Fuck Out Of This Crappy Year!!! Or Celebrate Change!!!

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In many ways, this past year has been one of the toughest of my life. It has been a year of sorrow and heartbreak as I watched my 30+ year marriage hang by a thread only to snap in December. But it has also been a year of tremendous growth as I have learned to sit with things longer before reacting, have found joy in places that were once unavailable to me, and I have located pieces of myself again which I thought were gone forever. Good and valuable pieces that I am proud of and am grateful to have re-captured in a slightly different form.

This past year I have walked down paths and met new friends who have been there for me while I cried on their shoulders. I discovered amazing people who have given me wisdom through new perspectives and helped me to realize that there is renewal in letting go and giving up so that future growth can occur.

My children have given me courage and a dogged determination to act in ways I once never dreamed possible. I have learned to appreciate them in a new light and with a sense of gratefulness that has brought joy to my spirit and wisdom to my soul.

Seeking peace has become a way of life and a way of viewing a future that is full of possibility and excitement while negative self-talk is becoming a slightly more distant phenomenon. I am trying, as I go into 2018, to avoid turmoil… self and otherwise so that anxiety is no longer walking in the shadows along side of me as I journey through the end of this life as I know it and the beginnings of a new life that I am about to confront head on.

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The changing relationship with my husband has shown me that pushing my own agenda is like walking through a land mine and that sometimes you just have to stand still until the bombs can be diffused. It has taught me that people change in ways you once never imagined and that their changes are THEIR changes and you don’t have to take them on as YOUR OWN. I also learned and am working on the idea that his changes and dislikes may have little to do with me in all actuality so that disappointment I have felt in myself may well have been misplaced.

I have also realized (after spending time in a sauna yesterday) that even skinny 65 yo women’s bodies look old and that acceptance and making peace with my less-than-perfect body will probably bring me a sense of freedom that has eluded me for years.

As I march into 2018, head held high, I thank you for putting up with my confusion and bull shit for these past several years.  Thank you for your wisdom, knowledge, and loving support. I know in real-life some of us could be best friends and leave our mark upon the world together though I think we might need the name of a bail bondsman handy!

I wish for all of you joy and wisdom in the coming year. Dance, dammit, dance…. preferably under the stars. Do something tough and do something you love often. Read tons of good books. Dream more. Eat more chocolate and take more time for yourself. Visit a place you have never been and kiss those you love more often. For those who suffer from chronic pain may it ebb. And lets try to remember that we never know just how much time we have on this earth so let’s all vow to use ours wisely.

And finally, may child-like Trump and childish Kim Jong-un not one up each another in a fit of spoilt “my dick is bigger than yours” and blow up the entire world just because they can.

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Amen!

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Beets And Betty Davis Eyes

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BEETS

Several years ago, in preparation for an upcoming trip to Scotland, I started working ernestly on our family trees and found we are related to many Kings and Queens from France, England, the Netherlands, etc. Needless to say this has provoked many interesting conversations around our house.
Andre: Beets? Beets? You know I don’t like beets.
Me: You are going to have to try them. They will taste great.
Andre: I know what happened to the kings in our family
Me: What
Andre: Their mothers fed them beets
Me: Eating beets has never killed anyone
Andre: Want to make a bet? I bet if you analyzed their stomach contents you would find beets.
Me: Why Do you think that?
Andre: Anything can be hidden in beets
(Not to be outdone) Paul: Yeah the color hides everything
Andre: I am sure they were poisoned with beets
Me: Doubtful. Who would want to poison them?
Andre: Their mothers
Me: WHATTTTTTTTT?  Mothers would not poison their children.
Andre: Oh yes they would
Me: Come on, Andre. You are letting your imagination run away with you
Why would a mother do that?
Andre: Because they want the power.
Me: What?
Andre: Women didn’t have power and they wanted it. It’s been that way through history. Mothers always want to find a way to control their children. You can’t deny it can you?! And beets were the way to power.
Me: You will still be eating your beets.
Andre: Drats. I thought this little history lesson would change my history with beets.
Me: No way, dude.

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BETTY DAVIS EYES

The things your kids share with you in the car.
Andre: I think it would be awesome to be able to read someone’s mind.
Me: Why is that
Andre: Because you could do all sorts of wonderful things for them like buy them the puppy they have always wanted.
Me: Andre, you are the one who wants a puppy
Andre: I’m just saying…you know there would be one time when it wouldn’t be so good to know what someone is thinking.
Me: When would that be?
Andre: When they are sitting on the toilet going to the bathroom. I mean the things that go through your mind when you are on the toilet…well they are just not things you want others to know
Me: Is that why you spend 30 minutes at a time in the bathroom?
Andre: Might be

 

Death Of My Marriage

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Yesterday was the day that we decided to meet for lunch to exchange lists regarding how we would like to divide our property, arrange child custody issues, and the like. We have decided to try to forego lawyers and see if we can work this out between the two of us.

We slept the night before holding hands and when we woke up B tells me, “Maybe we should go back to the belief that divorce is not an option,” so when we went to the restaurant for lunch I half expected that he might give me a piece of paper that said I DO NOT WANT A DIVORCE but he came fully prepared. I guess there is a little part of me that is still floating down DE-NILE. A part that does not want to enter the raging, swirling currents of divorce that could at any time capsize my raft and suck me under the torrents of tears that seem originate at the mouth of this river.

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These days I find tears are always threatening to leak out of my eyes at the most inopportune times. Paul came downstairs and found streaks from tears that I quickly wiped off my face but he saw them and asked what was wrong. Thank goodness I am still wearing this arm sling because it hides a multitude of emotional sins that are bubbling at my surface surprising me as the burst forth when least expected.

“I’m okay, sweetie. My shoulder is I just hurting me right now,” has become a great response when my sad and raw sentiments threaten to take me down to places in which I do not want my children to see or dwell.

After Christmas we will detonate their world by blowing up all they believed to be right and true to smithereens. They will never be the same and I am afraid that my two sons with autism will regress/rage as a way to handle the major changes that their lives will undergo. Change is something that is very hard for people with autism to endure.

I also feel terribly guilty. As adoptees my children have already lost the first parents, their first country, their culture and their language. We were suppose to be their Forever Family and we have let them down. Paul’s therapist tells us his biggest fear is ending up alone with no family and I am sure it will set off feelings of abandonment for him. This is one of the things I am finding it difficult to find peace about and find the compassion to offer forgivness towards my husband destroying our lives together.

Last night B and I got into bed. We held hands all night and we both cried on and off. It was a night in which sleep eluded us but sorrow did not as it swept us up in its tight grip and kept any sweet dreams at bay.

Today is a new day…I think I will go back to sleep.

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Visiting With Ghosts

“I’m not being bossy, I’m just telling you what to do,” says my husband.

As you can imagine these are not the choicest of words to say to your wife or any other woman who is over 30.

Years ago I would have told this man where to shove it if those words were said to me. Today, it is more complicated…kids, a 30+ year history together, mortgages…and then there is the sex which has always been divine.  So what does one say when the man you have admired more than anyone in the world hits his 50’s, goes through male menopause, and suddenly becomes someone you no longer know. Somehow…”SCREW YOU ASSHOLE”… no longer feels like an option when you are trying to become your best self and live in a more authentic and pleasant sort of way.

But enough of that.

Today, I was sitting inside when I suddenly heard the roar of B’s hedger. I decided to go out and help him because his back has been hurting.  Upon arriving outside I find B taking it to the rose buses with blades the size of a helicopter and my beloved pink agastache already mowed almost to the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“The trick or treaters won’t be able to make it up the walk. Had to make room for them.”

“B, those were precious to me. I work hard to have a beautiful yard. Why don’t you honor what I do and how hard I work?”

“There you go again. I can’t do anything right.”

And with that we were off. He went his way thinking his wife is a bitch and I went back into the house fuming while feeling what I do is devalued. As I crossed over the threshold it occurred to me that I could be right and I could feel miffed… or… I could have peace. Which did I want? It was a no-brainer. Outside I went.

“B… we need to talk. I came outside to help you so you don’t have to bend over”

“I’m busy. I’ve been working all day. I don’t need your help.”

“Honey, I am done with this old pattern of relating. I say something and you respond that you can never do anything right. Then we both go off into our corners with our invisible boxing gloves on. It is time to do something different.”

He looks at me suspiciously.

“Look,” he says “The kids can’t go up our sidewalk without running into our bushes.”

“I understand that now but didn’t realize it was that much of a problem. But instead of destroying what I worked so hard to create it would be helpful if you would come to me and state your concern about the kids. Then you could say, “Honey, I am going to cut the agastache down if you don’t come out and take care of them your way.” That way I am responsible for what happens. Not you. And I get to do things in the manner I choose; in a way that preserves my plants and my dignity.”

“I didn’t mow them all down…”

“Honey, lets just agree to disagree and try harder not to do the same dance which gets us nowhere. Right now, I am choosing not to be right at all costs. Instead, I am choosing to create peace.”

Later, we went to the pumpkin patch with the kids. We all know that they are getting too old for this folderol but it is a tradition…something to hold onto when so many things are up in the air and our relationship is hanging like grapes on the vine. As we entered the farm, I reflected on our “Days From The Past” and I remembered the happiness our family had experienced here. I harkened back to the times when I saw B in a kinder, gentler sort of light and felt a soft glow surround my heart.

I suspect that sometimes this is what is needed…reminders of times gone right. Those moments in our lives when our joy outweighed our sorrows and fits of laughter outnumbered our tears. Days filled with pumpkins, sunflowers, corn mazes and a frosted cup of apple cider. Maybe these are the things we all need to sustain us when things in our lives morph into things we no longer recognize.

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So this Halloween, instead of paying attention to the ghosts of the present who rattle their chains in an effort to be heard; I think I shall visit with the ghosts of the past to gain a new perspective and appreciation for what was and could possibly be again.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Set oven to 350. Clean pumpkin seeds. Mix with melted butter, dark cherry vinegar, garlic salt, and rosemary. Roast for 25 minutes.

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Coconuts

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One of the things I love about my volunteer position at a local hospice is that I get to spend time with “The Older Generation.” I love to hear their stories, the places they have been, and the tales of wisdom that they have learned about what makes for a good life. Most often I laugh hard on the days when I am spending time with these wonderful and whitty folk. Their joy at the simple things in life, as they are rounding the bend on theirs, makes me mindful of the beauty of letting things go back to basics in all areas of our lives.

Today, I was talking to one of my favorites. She is an older woman born on an island in the Pacific Ocean and loves to talk about her early life which was idyllic until the Japanese invaded during WWII. It was then that she learned about the difficulties in life. Starvation, slow torture, and bayonets. She watched as people were killed on the streets of her hometown; her friends and relatives not spared by the brutality that one human being can inflict on another. But what she really could not wrap her brain around is that the enemy were people just like her and those she loved. People that would no more hurt their own neighbor back home yet were inclined to resort to heinous acts during heinous times.

One of this lady’s most memorable war-time events occurred when she was just 13 years old. On that day, the Japanese arrived in town and began raping the women and killing men. The townspeople were unarmed and had no way to fight the invaders. They were totally at the mercy of their captors.

As the Japanese entered the town my “friend” and her two sisters were instructed by their father to flee towards the mountains. As they ran they heard voices behind them and realized that they were being pursued. Unfortunately, one of the sisters was separated from the other two girls who managed to climb up into the arms of a coconut tree. There they hid in the palm fronds for two days and watched as the enemy searched for them with instructions to kill if they were found. They also heard their sister’s painful cries as she was being victimized. It is, my friend assures me, a sound that one never forgets even all these years later. “I still has dreams,” she whispers and wakes up screaming and in a stinky sweat.

Here in the United States we do not know much about the sufferings of war. We are rarely put into a position where we genuinely fear for our lives and most of us if faced with that would probably shit ourselves due to panic and fright. We don’t know about eating tulip bulbs as the Dutch did during the war nor do most of us know how to forage for food in the woods. Most of us have never really had to worry about our neighbors turning as in as spies or leaving our homes with only the clothes on our backs.

That’s why when I hear the saber rattlers urge our countrymen to war I become concerned. Our country is not prepared for war. We are a country of wimps who watch from the sidelines but most often do not play in the actual game. Let everyone else send their kids just don’t send mine. This is especially true for the rich whose children get deferments while the politicians who help to obtain them line their pockets with Daddy’s money.

War is a dirty business and everyone, everywhere, is changed by it. And usually, this trnsformation is not for the better. So before we go talking about bombing North Korea we need to ask ourselves who is going to benefit from this situation? Is it going to be Joe Schmo or is it going to be companies like Halliburton? What resources do we lose when we attack another country and what do we gain? Who are the winners and losers and what is the cost going to be both economically and spiritually. Usually, if we do the math, we realize that as individuals and community we all lose wether it be our lives, our humanity, or both.

How many more people in history will have to hide in basements while bombs drop around them and how many more will have to cower in a coconut tree just to survive? Isn’t it time, that we as a species grow up and learn that war leads to nothing worth having and little worth saving? Isn’t it time that we work with each other instead of against?

I don’t know about you but I long for peace. Peace for this world, for my children, and peace of mind for me. Yes, I want rainbows and unicorns. I want bunnies and bubbles. I want children to feel secure and for everyone just to get along. And while I don’t know much, the one thing I am sure of is that war will not provide peace. It will not feed the starving and it will not make our children feel safe. It’s time we give peace a chance…again…and this time we need to mean it.

 

 

13 And Counting

I remember the first time I saw Gracie. She was sitting on her foster mother’s lap, so tiny and delicate, that she looked like a doll. She was a preemie so everything about her seemed fragile and small. I fell in love with her right then and there as I stared at the tiny 3×4 inch photo in my computer screen; engraving her sweet face on my heart forever. Truly, it was love at first sight and I was bound and determined that she would become our daughter. I thank my lucky stars that my dream came true because everyday with Gracie has been a delightful dream with a mixture of happiness, joy, and a pinch of awe thrown in for good measure. She truly is amazing!

Today Gracie turns thirteen. It is hard to believe that I will never again be raising a mere child. Instead, I am guiding young adults towards the time when they leave the nest…hopefully for good.

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Since Gracie is a now an official teenager, it means I have four teens living in my house. Maybe I should say co-existing, as war could erupt any minute when you are stepping through emotional teenage land mines which are scattered, undetected, here and there. Gracie assures me that she will not act like a teen but she is already rolling her eyes and using THAT tone of voice which indicates that somehow I have become the absolute dumbest person ever to live on this planet. Forget the 55+ years of experience, the college degrees and my affable personality…I am soon to be regulated to the status of something below pond scum.

While I am excited about someday becoming an empty nester (finger crossed) I do have to admit I miss those times when my children thought I could do no wrong, when they believed I was smarter than G*D, and when the little things I did brought them such pleasure. Those were simpler times though I didn’t recognize them as such. I often viewed them as chaotic with all the meltdowns that two children with autism could bring. But now… well, even the meltdowns don’t seem quite as bad as when I was in the midst of them and I can look back and be proud of how I handled some situations that would tax the patience of a saint. Not to say I handled them all well but I did GOOD ENOUGH and that is just fine with me at this point in the game.

Today is one of those momentous days. Time and perceptions will shift for both Gracie and I as the label of TEEN is applied like a gooey sticker to her soul. May we each grant the other grace and dignity in the coming years as she grows wiser and my brain cells shrink in number. May we create memories that sustain us and may we see the best in each other instead of the worst. For the teenage years are upon us…may we both survive them with patience and our sense of humor intact! And may Gracie happily survive the impact that autism has on a family and a sibling..she has done a remarkable job thus far.

Happy Birthday My Sweet, Talented, Gracious, Fun-Loving And Hard-Working Baby Girl! You are my Superhero!

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“FOR YOUR OWN GOOD” List

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be an exclusive list that it handed to each woman during the heat of labor which is promptly and conveniently ignored until the first child heads off to school. It is then, during Kindergarten Round Up, that you realize that every parent in the building decides what kind of person you are after watching your child interact for exactly 4.2 seconds and he is doomed to be a social pariah for the rest of his educational career. It is then, at that exact minute of total mom failure, that THE LIST suddenly re-emerges only to hang over our heads for eternity, flapping in that empty space that our brains used to occupy.
Every mother knows about THE LIST. It consists of all the things our kids must do at least once so that we can check the box that verifies to the world that we ARE A GOOD MOM.
Trying new food. The latest…brocollini….images-1
Yearly pictures at Sears…oops missed that one…but now that I am aware of that fact so by next Tuesday it will be done…semi-check.
Playing the piano and while he may not ready for Carnegie Hall, he does know where middle C is located…images-1
Now B is the sports minded one in our family but because two of our three children get crazed if something as small as an ant touches them, trying to knock out athletic activities…well… it’s a challenge. If I had my druthers I would just scratch that whole section off THE LIST because several family members consider high quality endurance sports akin to laying on the couch and dipping ruffled potato chips into a savory dip. (the endurance part comes when you have to turn the chip around and dip again being careful not to double-dip)
But I have to admit that I do have a fear that scratch outs might just not get you into heaven so I persist in introducing my kids to new sports, knowing in my heart of hearts, that is what all GOOD moms do. That feel-good, doing-the-right-thing, going for Mother Of The Year, attempt is what lead us to the Broken Leg Ice Skating Rink yesterday afternoon where the kids tried ice skating for the very first time.
 I will admit that sometimes it seems as though it takes a while for my kids to get comfortable with new activities. First, we have to check out each and every toilet in the entire facility. If the seat is comfortable then my kids might give it a try. If not, we are OUTTA there thanks to Andre’s unrelenting complaints about the lack of high-quality plastic engineering.
Next comes the vending machines. Anything that has hidden ingredients that make one of my kids break out in hives is considered an immediate success and suddenly every one wants a buck to insert into the machine as they rapidly make their way towards anaphylactic shock.
Finally, throw in a 16-year-old cashier who is making minimum wage but will answer every one of the 20,000 questions thrown at them about the history of said sport…the equipment used and the rules of the sport, then participation is a definite maybe because all bets are on that they can continue with the questions until the place closes for the evening. Better yet, if the cashier can quote numerous safety statistics; then its a go-home because no sport is even safe enough for my boys. Yes, even contemplating sports can be an exhausting endeavor.
So after spending one half- hour tying and re-tying the skates, using the bathroom…for the third time… and learning to walk on blades; the time had come for the kids to make their way onto the ice. If, as the old adage goes, you can smell fear; then the fumes around our family was like the pungent odor that follows us around for three hours after eating grandma’s chili. We just couldn’t shake it. As we left the bench, feet started going every which way but forward and the sound of our bottoms slapping the ice…HARD… reverberated throughout the arena. To top it off, I pulled my back out trying to hold up one child while falling down with another. Mom was done and judging from the little faces surrounding me, the vending machine owner was about to become a very rich man. AGAIN.
Yet, we persisted. Paul put his game face on and after one trip around the rink fell and got a bloody nose that spurted ten feet.  Gracie whined until her daddy escorted her like the princess she is around the rink. But I knew all was lost in regards to Andre when he spent ten minutes making it half-way around the rink with his toes turned in towards the wood paneling the entire time. Never have a seen a child so happy as when he took his blades off of the ice. His face actually beamed so brightly he was in danger of melting the ice.
Later, after exiting the rink, Andre looked up at me and said, “Well, those were absolutely the worst minutes I have ever spent in my entire life!” And needless to say, his assessment didn’t get any better despite being bribed with hot chocolate by B.
On the way home, Andre talked about the experience. His take?
“Well, I am glad that is over. I did it once, it’s a no-go and thank goodness I will never have to do that again. Now, mom, what else can we cross of your list of things I have to do?”
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“What list?””You know, the one that you have that makes me try everything for my own good even though we both know I am going to hate it. But still you try. Again and again. Pushing me to be a better kid so you can feel better about yourself as a mom. So really, if you think about it, this list is really about you and your feelings of inadequacy. Frankly, I think a therapist for you would cost a whole lot less than this “contrived family time.” I think that is something you need to seriously contemplate before one of us dies during these little mini-olympics of yours.”

And with that he was done.
But I’m not.
I want to know… how he knew about… THE LIST?
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