Complacency

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Throughout almost my entire life I have often taken on what I have “perceived” as injustice. I have fought to change things within the school system for my kids.I have tried to protect my patient’s autotomy and rights. I have stood alongside like-minded people as we protested for change. I have said the “unpopular” thing that has needed to be said but few wanted to. But all of this concern comes with a price. It extracts a huge part of the stillness and the gentleness that you need to go through life without going crazy.

When I was younger I used to look at older folks and wonder why they had gotten complacent and just accepted the status quo. I swore I would never be like that…but I am becoming that way and frankly I think that I might want to. Because the amount of energy I expend trying to right the wrongs is tremendous and I just can’t afford to do that anymore if I want to stay sane and live a peaceful existence.

This reflection is a result of last night when I attended the annual contract signing meeting for our diving club. Sure it’s a small blip in the scheme of things but I had concerns that the owner was not coaching our children as much as was expected/promised and she is the expert as well as a judge. She knows her stuff but she has a habit of blowing off parental concerns or saying things will change and she is not held accountable so nothing changes. So in the meeting I stated that she had missed at least two rotations of 50% of the practices which caused a big to-do with some of the other parents. We are paying a lot of money for these lessons and I want to be sure that what is promised is actually being delivered…which it is not.

Needless to say, I went home totally stressed and disappointed. Some of the parents who felt the same way did not have my back like promised. Sadly, in the end I accomplished nothing and pissed off some people because they are YES men to the owner of the club. And of course there is the unspoken feeling that if you say something it will effect your child’s coaching.  SIGH.

Last night I didn’t sleep well. I tossed and turned for hours and I woke up feeling stressed and unhappy that I took on something that needed to be said but will be paying a price for it.  My peace of mind is disrupted and the “happy place” I have been cultivating inside me for the past year feels anything but. And if I am honest, when I look back the amount of time I have spent fighting the “system,” whatever it may be, has most often not produced the results I had hoped for. And so I have concluded that I must stop fighting the fight because it is so disruptive to my own soul.

I would like to think that despite all of this I will do the right thing if called upon. I think we all do. We like to imagine that we would be the ones hiding our fellow Jewish citizens in our attics should the need arise. But yet, I have to wonder if complacency in the small areas of life soon reach into the larger and more important ones. I wonder too if complacency makes us lazy, afraid, and unwilling to risk our own comfort for a greater and far more important purpose; if it becomes our new a comfortable norm.

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And so today, I am leaning towards incorporating complacency in my life which essentially to me means putting my comfort ahead of everything else and sticking my head in the sand.  It means not rocking the boat, not championing a cause and not trying to fix things. For it appears to me that if you want to cultivate some sort of inner peace you can not do these things.

Frankly, complacency scares and disappoints me, but at my age, unfortunately, so does the fight.

 

 

 

 

Mom’s List Two

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I don’t know about you but as a mom there seems to be some sort of invisible list that hangs over my head, flapping in the breeze to remind me of its presence. THE LIST consists of all the things my kids must do at least once so that I can check off one more box that assures me that I AM A GOOD MOM. Trying new food. The latest, purple broccoli….check. Yearly pictures at Sears…oops missed that one…but now that I am aware of that fact by next Tuesday it will be done…semi-check. Playing the piano…okay not ready for Carnegie Hall but does know where middle C is located…check.

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 during recreational sports …trying to knock out the numerous athletic activities…well, its a challenge. If I had my druthers I would just scratch that whole section off THE LIST as several family members consider high quality endurance sports akin to laying on the couch and dipping ruffled potato chips into 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 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. This is what lead us to the Gateway Ice Skating rink yesterday afternoon where the kids attempted ice skating for the first time. It was, needless to say, an EPIC FAILURE!

 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.

Next comes that vending machines. If they have anything gluten free and casesin free then no matter what comes next the day will be considered a success until they actually have to do it.

Finally, throw in a 16 yo cashier who is making minimum wage but will answer every one of the 20,000 questions through at them about the history of the sport, the equipment used and the rules of the sport, then participation is a definite maybe. Better yet, if the cashier can quote numerous safety statstics; then its a go. Yes, even contemplating sports can be an exhausting endeavor.

So after spending 1/2 hour tying and re-typing the skates, using the bathroom…again… 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 the pungent odor that follows you about three hours after eating grandma’s chili. You just couldn’t shake it. Feet started going every which way but forward and the sound of buttoms 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.

Paul put a brave face on and after once around decided taking his hands off the railing was more to his liking.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 1/2 hour going 1/2 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 the ice. After exiting the rink he 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 until B bought hot chocolate.

Later, 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?”

“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. So really, this list is really about you. Why don’t we just leave it at that!”

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

IEP Services From The School District

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For years we have been fighting our local school district to get our son what he needs in order to learn. Comprehension is sometimes difficult and math often impossible. We have watched him struggle to learn things that others grasp without effort while the school district ignored our concerns. Yet, if he is taught using particular methods he is often able to do the work that is required. Unfortunately, we do not yet know some of the methods that he would benefit most from.

We first realized he was having difficulty with math in first grade. We brought it to the attention of the IEP team. Our concerns were dismissed. In second grade, “It just takes some kids longer.” In third grade, “So he won’t be at the top of his class in math. (Yeah, duh!)” We then paid for him to go to an after school program at the cost of over $400 per month to learn his multiplication tables which the district could not manage to teach him. In fourth grade, he really started slipping but it was “Well, we can’t do anything now because he isn’t failing.” The rage I felt was immense. We were trying to be proactive but the district wouldn’t take our son’s lack of being able to understand and apply concepts seriously. By fifth grade they couldn’t quite ignore it anymore but their solutions and IEP goals were meaningless. He is now in 8th grade and doing math at a 4th/5th grade level. SIGH. I can also say the pathway has been similar for reading and comprehension but not as difficult or severe. In retrospect, the things we would do differently are numerous including taking the school district to Due Process. But the end result is that we have refused to sign his IEP for more than two years and continue to work with an outdated one.This, of course, is beginning to make the district nervous for what it means for them should we instigate legal action.

One of the things we have been fighting for is a GOOD educational/cognitive/psychosocial assessment of our son as we have disagreed with the district’s findings. We feel this is the best way to discover the issues that are effecting his learning and how he needs to be taught to reach his full potential. We have had a well-known and respected doctor in mind to do this assessment who specializes in kids with multiple “things” going on and have been fighting for the district to get him seen by him. Thus far the school district has refused citing their policy (which is illegal, BTW) that IEE’s must be performed within 60 miles of our home. If you understood where we are located you would also know that these types of services are not available here.

It has been a long, hard road with often disappointing results and constant stonewalling from our school district. But after all this time we were just notified that they have agreed to this testing and with it comes a very belated victory for our child which has cost him dearly due to these very purposeful tactics and delays.

Unfortunately, no family should have to go through this. Yes, we have at times hired a lawyer to push our case but the cost is immense and we see very little action for the money spent. School districts often stonewall because most parents cannot afford legal services, they don’t understand the law and districts know that most parents get weary of fighting “the machine” and give up. It’s hard not too. When you are already struggling at home because of the way your children’s disabilities impact your home life taking on a huge school district seems impossible and the educational system counts on that. Yet, by not doing right by our children it puts a future drain on our economy because these kids get discouraged by their lack of understanding/comprehension/accomplishment and drop out of school. They then face a life-time of unemployment or underemployment and the use of social services that could have most likely been avoided had they had some measure of success in school. Prison and gang activity is also a direct measure of the failure of the educational system.

I wish I could say it has been easy but I can’t. In fact, fighting this battle against the local school district has contributed to our ‘almost divorce.’ But I do urge all parents out there to continue to fight for their children’s place in the educational system. I have to believe that eventually we will make a difference.

 

 

YOU ARE THE JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER

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This weekend I was on trial. YOU KNEW I have been having severe pain for weeks and was having it when the “incident” happened. You knew my cousin was visiting but you would not step in and control the boys when they were so out of control.  You did not step in to help but instead chose to sit in judgement me when I finally lost it. And I didn’t even yell. NOT ONCE. How dare you!

You say,” I don’t know if I can live with you because you yell too much”, so I quit.Now its, “I don’t know if I can live with you because you sound stern and mad and point your finger.” How would you like me to handle discipline in our home so our kids know that things are a serious matter? Smile sweetly and in a chirpy voice say, “Oh please, sweet boys stop what you are doing. I beg of you?” UGH.

I am NOT your mother. You are NOT my son. I am who I am. A person trying their best. Changing. Me Changing. Yet somehow it always seems as though I am the person in this relationship needing to be the one to change…what about you? Are you putting as much effort into those things I told you I would like to see you change? Let me answer that for you. NO you are not.

So let me in on a little secret. People get upset. Yeah I know you don’t like to because you want everyone to like you especially our kids. Our kids who know this is your weakness and exploit it. Our adult daughter who admits this and says it sucks for the adult but is grand for the child. Guess what, I have emotions that I show which make you uncomfortable because you don’t or won’t show yours because your mother punished you for it and you are afraid that will happen with me. No insist that it will/does so you use it as your excuse not to figure out who you are as an emotional being.  And yet you stand in judgement of me. And if I don’t do what you want, what you need, then you will leave. But surprise it might be me whose ass is hit by the door on the way out because I have to be who I am and frankly it ain’t so bad. Sure there are things that need refining. But at least I feel. At least I can say what it is I know as my truth, my faults, my goods and my bads.  I show those sides of me and no one has to spend their energy trying to guess what it is going on inside my head.

And surprise, here is one for you…often I can even understand why you feel the way you do. But just because I speak my truth in the way I do and you get flooded…that has nothing to do with me but with your relationship with your mother and I cannot deal with that because it is your issue that you do not want to have to look hard at.

And so I go to my therapist and we go to joint counseling but when are you going to go down deep and work on you? I’m trying to change for me, for us and for our family and to do so I am having to go to places I don’t want to examine but I do it because it needs to be done. When are you going to get brave and do that too? When are you going to really look at how your past is effecting our lives now and in the future?

 

Teens & Alarm Clock Hell…266 Days To Fix This

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Somehow, I have become everyone’s personal alarm clock and I don’t like it one bit. Waking up my children has suddenly become a major chore. I don’t know what it is about teenage-hood but the fact is that everything moves slower on them, their ears stop picking up the decibels emitted from my vocal cords and their bones seem to collapse in upon themselves rendering them unable to hoist their bodies out of bed.

It used to be that I could bellow up the stairs and it would work.

“Kids, it’s a lovely day. Time to get up!”

Three minutes later their shiny smiling faces would be standing next to me, sweet sleep still filling their eyes. Now, I have to climb the stairs to hell to bring them down myself. In short, the trip up the stairs feels like being led to the gallows.

With Paul the first exchange of the morning usually goes something like this:

“Honey, time to get up!”

Nothing moves, nothing stirs. Mom walks over to teens bed and shakes him where he kicks his foot striking me somewhere in the thigh. I am still unable to determine if this is a voluntary or involuntary act.

“Paul, time to get up. Come on baby. Let’s go. Move out!”

GROAN. Slight twitch of left toe.

Shake again.

LOUDER GROAN. Slight twitch of right toe and so it goes until each part of his body has twitched but not yet moved.

“Come on baby. Rise and shine!”

“OKAY I AM GETTING UP NOW LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Fifteen minutes later I am still the only one down in the kitchen, the countdown to the bus has begun and I’m starting to burn like the bagel I put in the toaster 5 minutes ago.

In an attempt to remedy this hell of a routine I take taken many paths of desperation including LOUD alarm clocks that could wake the dead but somehow fail to wake my teens. I have cuddled with each child as they snore on. I have rung bells and I have banged drums. I have even resorted to ice cold water spray bottles which have resulted in nothing but an ugly attitude that manages to last into the wee hours of the next morning.

Is there no way out of this hell?

People tell me that I will miss all this when everyone is gone and out of the house but I doubt it. Because by the time the last one leaves the nest we will be retired and probably very weary of this lack of time management on the part of our teens.  Yet, I do hold out hope that the future will bring with it an uncomplicated way to start out my day. And, if it is true about what the experts say about the aging process, I suspect I will still hear, “OKAY! OKAY! I AM GETTING UP!” as I drift in and out of sleep. Only this time, those words will be uttered by a incredibly horny and somewhat naked 65-year-old man. And frankly this will be fine by me because instead of being the bell ringer it will be nice to once again have someone RING MY BELL to wake ME up in the morning.

The Passionate Journey

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Feeling your body under mine

As we ride to far away places

In that custom saddle we created so long ago

I am reminded that the first part of our odyssey

Made me feel warm, safe, and secure

Believing that passion and love would serve us well

For many years to come

Yet, as the journey continued through our ages

To different and strange unexplored lands

I found that as we rode together we

Struggled to stay insync to the pounding rhythm of life and each other

In this saddle we created and shined to perfection together

Oh so many years ago

Then slowly our bodies began to move to different beats

The spark no longer igniting when flesh richcheted against flesh

Our timing aberrant from what had come before

Akwardly and in silence we rode through valleys so deep and low

They threatened to pull us under

As we wrapped ourselves each in our own protective gear

Bracing ourselves and sitting deep in the saddle spooning

No longer astride one another

During this long exhausting ride

The passion for this particular pilgrimage waning

The heat that once kept us warm

Cooling to small embers and threatening

To extinguish themselves all together

As the light faded and disappeared behind the mountains before us

No longer straddling one atop the another on this migration

But one of us down… crawling on the ground

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By some silent force of nature

That was unwilling to give up or give in

But yet we pressed on

Scraping raw our knees

Scooping out our souls

Our sexual natures vanished somewhere within Mother Nature herself

We traveled wearily like this for so long

Lost, together… yet alone

Until in desperation we finally reached out for the reins to steady and guide us

The accidental brushing together of two souls

Once again serving to remind us of all we have endured

And all we have yet to discover

So now we join hands to do battle

Against all that has kept us apart from one another

And we fight Mother Nature to reclaim our sexuality

The passion igniting our bodies and sweeping us together

And once again we quiver deep within one another

Grinding deep within that saddle

As we climb to the pinnacle of our lives

Looking over the ridge to the future that awaits us

Hanging on for dear life together once again

Our devotion rekindled each for the other

In that saddle that was custom made the two of us

In which we fit together so well

No longer afraid

But curious about where we will end up

On this sojourn through married life

Mom Revenge

After I had children I began to understand why some animals eat their young. Those animals are smart creatures because they know that one day their offspring will grow up to become a mouthy, sulky, nasty, mean, cranky, selfish, thoughtless and reckless teenager; so they nip that problem in the bud.

Teenagers breed contempt. They make you question your sanity. And there is nothing worse on God’s green earth than a snotty-know-it-all sixteen-year-old.

Last Saturday evening, after a particularily difficult week with our collective teens, my girlfriends and I got together for a drink…or two. I am not sure where the idea came from nor the precise number of drinks that been downed but suddenly we were compiling a list which we have decided to use against our offspring to teach them a lesson should the need arise. We called it MOM REVENGE and does it ever feel sweet. And since we are all in this together I thought I would share.

    MOM REVENGE

  1. When you drop your kid off at school yell out the window “And if you don’t pee your bed again tonight I will give you another dollar.”
  2. Fill your son’s bed with stuffed animals just before his friends arrive
  3. Pack a sippy cup in your sweetie’s lunch box
  4. Post naked baby pictures on their Facebook page
  5. Yell out the car window “Remember the babysitter will be at the house waiting for you when you get home from school.”
  6. Text your teen “Honey, you forgot your blankie. Do you want me to bring it to school for you?”
  7. When your teen’s friends are over come downstairs with a box of head lice killer and tell your daughter that the salon called and wanted to let her know she has lice.
  8. Download ice cream truck music on your cell phone and blast it on your stereo as you pass their high school.
  9. Put a Barbie doll in your teens backpack.
  10. Buy a recordable card and record your own personalized message that awaits in their lunch box.

Hollow Victory…311 Days to Fix This

We talk all day

We talk all night

Maybe that’s good

Maybe not right

Seems I am trying to force

An outcome

Instead of sitting in the silence of what isimages

And letting what happens…happen

On its own

Without my input

Or any artificial colors, preservatives or (l)dyes

But there is a major problem…

I don’t do limbo well

THEN

In the morning you come to me

Phone held tightly in your right hand

You show me your password

I turn my head

I don’t want to see

A hollow victory

For the sadness that lives in the lines around your eyes

The numbers mean nothing to me anymore

Why I ask? Why are you doing this?

It really doesn’t mean anything to me, he replies

But it means the world to you

It’s a small thing to do

When it is such a big hurt to you

And when he smiles

Some of the sorrow leaves the lines around his eyes

And I feel guilty for putting it there

For fighting for our marriage

Causing lines, scars, tears, misery

Refusing to give in to our marriage’s premature death

Refusing to pick out a casket

For today I see life and love

And I know we are okay for this moment

And that’s enough for me

Right now