Tuesday, June 21, 2016

An Open Letter to My Children


The three of you are now adult women. It is hard to believe that. The time worn saying “where did the time go” does not seem like a good choice, because I know exactly where it went. Every moment of every day had meaning and purpose. Raising each of you has brought me so much joy that there are not enough words to express the extent of the joy. But beyond the entire joy that child rearing offered, I too was growing up and changing and that is where this letter will take you.

First of all, as hard as it is to believe, I am a person. I make mistakes. Many times one or all of you have pointed them out to me. Each one of my mistakes taught me something, usually something valuable about myself or others. I always tried to tuck the lesson away so that I did not have to learn whatever it was again. Example: Once a dear friend asked me to write a letter of reference, one of three that she needed to be submitted so that she could get into a special program in college…I FORGOT…when she called crying to tell me she didn’t get in, I was horrified, and then I lied by NOT telling her it had been me. After I hung up, I tried so hard to convince myself it would be okay, but I knew I could never face her again if I didn’t tell her the truth. I called her back a few minutes later and told her that it had been me. My friend was understanding and showed me more compassion than I deserved. I learned that no matter how hard it is, the truth literally sets you free.

Second of all, I have feelings and I have had to learn to manage them. I had a difficult and by some standards horrific childhood. I grew up feeling unloved and unworthy. I had many people in my life that I knew loved me very much, but it was difficult for me to overcome the strong feelings of worthlessness. I had so many dreams and never felt like I had what it took to make those dreams come true. So I let them wither and die.  As I have gotten older I have learned to surround myself with people that support me. I have a strong shield of friends who support me, understand me, and care about me as I do them. I am so fortunate to have that, but it took time and trust to build that. I also needed to find ways to show myself love. I learned to try new things and step into challenges to stretch myself and give myself more confidence.  Life is full of stress and anxiety. Every day is another opportunity to win or fail and since you never know which it will be, my best advice is to jump in with both feet. Do not over think or worry about things you have no control over. Just take a deep breath and dive into the crowd, apply for the job, talk to the cute guy and LIVE. Those feelings of fear and worry and anxiety are your enemy and you can conquer them.

Finally, know you are not who you were. As a young mother I focused so much on wanting to present to the world my best maternal footwork.  I was so worried about the perception of not being good enough (pretty much a theme in my life) that I probably left some of that residue on you. You are good enough! The best part is over time you will become even better. I learned late into my mothering that just loving you and telling you are loved were the greatest gifts I could offer you. I do not think I told you enough how much love I have for each of you. Being your Mom changed my life. While I was busy raising you I grew up too. I am not the Mom that I was in the beginning, I have changed and I know that you will be able to see yourselves change over time. Be open to change, be open to trying things a different way and know you are good enough. As a matter of fact each of you has amazed me with your resilience, your courage and willingness to step out into new horizons. Keep that spirit alive in yourselves and you will never have to look back and wish something could have been different. You are not who you “were” ever because you learn and change and if you do it right you become someone YOU like and you will work to impress yourself. That is the ultimate person you want to become.

Finally, have an open and understanding heart because long ago someone with that heart helped me see what compassion, love and understanding feels like and it changed my life. Be that person that lifts others up and shows Gods love and understanding. Help heal damaged wings and broken hearts. Most of all be your wonderful selves, laugh and love and live.

LOVE,

Mom XxOo

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bite Size Pieces

Image result for sandwich pictures

Last week was a dozy! I had so much going on…some of it was plans I already knew about and some of it was things I added to my week when I forgot about the plans I already had and some of it was just fun things that came up that I did not want to miss. Ugh! I felt like I was climbing a wall with noodles for arms. Every time I looked at the week ahead I would go into a mental panic. I would beat myself up and flail around in my brain. I was only making it worse than it already was.

As the week cracked open I knew there was no turning back and I found myself searching for a way to make it through the week without losing the few marbles I have left. I sat myself down and took some time (limited time) to think it all through. I decided that rather than panic it would be better to just accept that I was over booked and since I had made the bed I was lying in I should at least enjoy it. That is when I hit on the idea of looking at each day separately. Rather than facing the week like a life sentence I would look at each day as a separate bite.

I thought of it as a life sandwich. I would never shove a whole sandwich in my mouth, so why would I shove a whole week in my brain at one time. Each day I would spend the day mentally focused on that day. I chose not to complain or share my overload with others (well, except the few times I would mention something to my husband, than say out loud that I needed to just take one bite at a time. I know, lucky guy, right?) But quite honestly my crazy idea worked. I faced each day as its own bite and let the rest of the weeks sandwich stay wrapped for freshness.


I ended the week tired, but I had actually enjoyed each day and did not feel stuffed or overwhelmed by the week’s many layers. I learned that life is sometimes busy and overwhelming but it can be enjoyed one day at a time. In bite size pieces, of course!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Tree


Image result for family treeA few weeks ago I decided to go exploring. If you have read much of my blog, you are very aware that my childhood was a hot mess; honestly, “hot mess” is pretty mild. Anyway, I decided to join a website that helps you build your family tree hoping I would learn more about my birth father whom I have never met. When I was 11 months old my Mom and birth father got a divorce. My Mom moved home with my maternal grandparents and that was that. No visitation from the birth father and no child support. Just my Mom and I making a very rocky go of it.

I had in my mind that I wanted to learn about the people on the paternal side of my tree. I don’t have any plans to call or visit anyone; I just wanted to see how that side of the family tree fleshed out. Learning about the other half of me has never been something I particularly cared about, but lately I have been curious. Other than a few wedding photos that I have of my parents I literally know nothing other than the information tainted with anger and disappointment that my Mom had shared with me.

Without information about your father you cannot say what medical cards are on the table for your other side. You read through medical forms and shrug because you have no clue what lies ahead for you based on the paternal family history. The lack of information is in some ways easier because I cannot worry or obsess about things I know nothing about. Thanks to pictures I have found from my parents wedding, I know that my height and my nose come from my father’s side. I have long legs and a big nose and no one to thank…

I started my tree with the names of my parents. Every so often there would be a little hint from the website that I would pursue and find someone new to add to my tree. I would poke around for a little while each day and then take a break. Each time I went back to the website, there would be another little hint or two or three.

The trouble is that my tree is flourishing on the side that I already know the most about, my maternal side. My paternal side is barely worth calling a branch let alone a tree. I have poked and dug around the roots of the paternal side but nothing seems to be happening there. I find myself looking at the website everyday hoping for a new hint, something, anything, which clears the way to a blooming paternal tree.

Look it’s not like I am walking around with only one functioning side of my body, I know that. It is just that I wanted a little peek into the other people that influenced my being. I had hoped to read about my paternal grandmother. I know that my grandmother came to see me a couple of times but my Mom would not let here in the house because my birth father was not paying the child support that he was instructed to pay by the courts. On one hand I understand my Mom making this line in the sand with my father, but my Grandma? I guess sometimes you flex the power you think you have in hopes of a result. In this case there was no result except that that side of my tree has shriveled away.

I find myself feeling like I have lost something even though there was never really anything there. I hoped I would stumble across a nugget of history that I could hold on to. Just a little pebble from the path I came from…but, for now that is not possible.


I have another month with this family tree service and I plan to use it. It is just hard not to get frustrated, disappointed and sad when you are climbing a tree looking for family fruit and you’re barely two feet off the ground with no hope of going any higher or even grabbing one piece of fruit. I am not going to lie though; I have a really hard time understanding how my birth father or anyone really can just turn their backs on their own children and never look back. When you think about it, this really doesn’t bode well for their character. It also makes for a disappointing and unhealthy family tree.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Release Your Story


It was 46 some odd years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Every detail is still firmly seeded in my brain. It is something that you never forget but never think about until you hear someone else’s story. I was molested. I was 10 years old and entrusted to the care of my Mom’s boyfriend for one night, the next day her girlfriend would be by to take me to her house. Mom had to go out of town to help care for my aunt who had become very ill and she made quick decisions and left.

I remember the feeling of being left, how alone I felt and when this boyfriend came to comfort me I was immediately uncomfortable. I knew in my young heart that something wasn’t right, but I was alone and I didn’t know what to do. I honestly let myself believe that what happened was nothing. When my Mom’s girlfriend came to have me stay with her until Mom would come home, I let my young brain put a band aid on this wound and tucked the molestation away. I felt I had done something wrong and I didn’t want to get in trouble. So now I was alone and guilty.

This boyfriend eventually broke up with my mom because of me. He told her I was out of control, I had problems and it was just too much for him to take. After he left, my Mom yelled at me and told me what he had said to her and how her sadness was because of me. I remember being hurt and sad because I was still alone with this truth inside me that I felt I couldn’t tell because this would be my fault too.


The problem with the band aid I had applied to my brain was it would slip off now and then. The memory would come up and I would indict myself and shrink back to that little lonely girl. I know that that molestation changed me. I went from trusting and being happy to being angry and lashing out. I was longing for love but afraid to let anyone close.

Once when I was 19 years old I was driving me and my Mom home from an outing. She spotted that old boyfriend on the side of the road with car trouble. She asked me to stop and I told her “NO”, and then I told her why…she didn’t believe me. That was when I knew It was not me that had the problem, that’s when I knew I really was alone and I was the only one that could keep me safe.

I have spent many years going to therapy and counseling working hard to work my way through that young life. It takes time, lots and lots of time and you still can never erase the moment that changed your life. All you can do is decide that what defines you is better than that one moment. I reach out to that lonely little girl as much as I can. I do silly things and try to laugh and live life to its fullest every single day. I had to rip the band aid off to heal. I couldn’t keep pretending to protect others while I let myself suffer.


All it took was a friend talking about girls that are in difficult situations and what she was hoping to do to help them and protect them so that nothing happens to them. That conversation brought back that day long long ago. This time though I decided it was better to tell you about it than turn it back on myself. There are more victims of molestation and rape out there than we know. I think that is because we put that mental band aid on and hope that it protects us from remembering. Eventually you have to talk about it. Release your story into the capable hands of a counselor or therapist and grab your life back. It is great revenge to live your life fully.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Being Right Is Not As Great As You Think

Recently I have been on a quest to find the reason my youngest is tired all of the time. When I say youngest you may be envisioning a toddler toddling about but my youngest will actually be 20 in just a few short weeks. The truth is this tiredness and basically not feeling well has gone on for a long time. I would say most of her life.

Now before you start judging me as an inept parent let me just say that I have spent many hours visiting doctors and having her tested for a myriad of things. I have had several moments when I thought I was pretty darn close to the answer only to find I wasn’t. I had many times suggested to my daughter to take allergy medicine but the truth is parents are totally ignorant until the time comes that you are not. Those times usually involve an event that makes you undeniably right and your child has no other option but to tell you “You were right” with an ashamed face.

Just a couple of weeks ago my (“you were right”) moment arrived but honestly it didn’t matter because I was so happy to have some answers. I had decided to take my daughter to an allergist in hopes of crossing this possibility off the list. When we arrived and they started poking my girl with different allergens and testing her breathing my daughter was a little freaked out, but as her body started to react to the different allergens, getting red and itchy we knew we may have finally found the answers we had been hoping for.

It was a long arduous process but after almost 3 hours we learned that she was allergic too:

Dogs                                                                                                                                              
Horses
Cockroaches  (please note that we do not have cockroaches at our house)
Dust mites
Grass
Trees
All molds indoor and outdoor

So basically everything,  and then… just for fun they threw in the fact that she had asthma and was only breathing at 43%. No wonder she didn’t feel good! As a parent how do you come back from that bombshell? Seriously 20 years in and we are just now finding this out?

I myself had just been diagnosed as allergic to dogs and since we have two it’s a little tough to avoid them. Our dogs are suppose to be non allergic dogs which I shared with our doctor when he told me the news a few months ago and his comment was, “there is no such thing”.

So here we are pretty much bathing in allergens at our house. There is an old saying that knowledge is power, so now that we know what we are up against we are coming out with allergy meds a blazing and an inhaler so that breathing can continue. Honestly, it is so much better than anything else that might be found and just knowing what she is up against helps us help her.


Truly in the end I’m not happy I was right, I’m just happy we have an answer and hopefully we can turn things around for our youngest girl. So parents, the lesson here is, being right is not as great as you think. It is, knowing your child knows your right that really matters!

Friday, March 18, 2016

My New Beginning

It wasn’t long ago that my home was bustling with children going in all different directions. These days with one grown daughter working in Connecticut another living away at college and one recent graduate living home but working full time and enjoying a full load of activities after work, the bustling is not as often. I remember when my nest was officially empty and people would give me a sad frowny face and ask “How are you doing?” I never knew quite how to respond.

You see, I am doing great. I have not longed for more children or mourned my children moving on with their own lives, I have picked up my own life and I’ve been making a go at being me. I am not great at being me, but I keep trying. At one time I was immersed in my children’s lives, working at their schools and cheering them on in their activities. Now I have stepped back removed the safety restraints and they are flying solo. I still give advice but its different now, now the weight of what they decide to do is theirs to bear. My stake in the game is gone.

It’s a strange feeling when you swing from the bar and there is no net. I owed my children the chance to see what that is like. The freedom to decide and choose your own destiny is a freedom no one should be denied. For our American children it is often taken for granted. I have often been disgruntled about being the ambulance. You know the one that rushes in and saves the day after warning that something is a bad idea or the times you have given a thought or a piece of advice to the stiff stop sign arm with a loud “MOM” at the end. Now I say what I think and hug if I can and hope and pray that God has their back while I have mine turned.

Truth be told I say I’m great but deep down I miss the being needed as much as I was and I miss the constant reminders that mothering while tough is rewarding on many good days. Days, when you get it right and your child even tells you so or the days when you watch them succeed where they thought for sure they would fail. These days the reward is theirs and I can no longer hang on and claim some responsibility.


I am proud of the life I have and even more proud of the lives my children are building for themselves. I guess it is time for me to take a page from the books my girls have written and work on me. I have been dealing with a loud STOP sign arm of my own and honestly I think I am way more difficult than my children ever were. It is really and truly time for me. This all starts with a commitment to write more. Pouring my heart into words is what I love to do and its really time to get back at it. So for all of you I am asking… please stop the frowny faces I am fine. Being an empty nester is not my end, it is my new beginning.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Treasure




My husband and I recently went on vacation to someplace warm and sunny. It was a wonderful relaxing get away, something that we have not done without our children EVER! That alone was exciting. Our schedule was our own and I guarantee if you try it you will love it. Of course we have waited over 20 years to do it. I have grey hairs from waiting so long. Annnyyyway...one of the things that I found interesting and relaxing to do was search for sea glass and shells that may have washed up on the beach. Sea glass comes from glass items that deteriorate in the water and the little bits and pieces wash up having been tumbled and smoothed in the sand...brown, white and green, and on a lucky day you might find the elusive blue. It was like treasure hunting, finding these pretty pieces and tucking them into my pocket to admire and put in a jar when I got home.

Thinking about these treasures made me also think about my  own treasures. Bits and pieces of me that have been tumbled and polished over the years and also the pieces of me that have become trapped and don't seem to surface as they once did. These are the treasures that we set aside over time thinking we will come back to them one day.
I want so badly to find away to get back to that part of me. 

I want to focus on the wonder and joy around me but many times get trapped in Facebook scrolling through so many wonderful sayings and stories and then often times horrified and saddened. I spend way to much time flicking my finger on the screen scanning the treasures of others while mine sit dormant. I know I have something in me that is tumbling and polishing its self and I just need to stop and take the time to search for it.

It will not be as easy as walking on the warm sunny beach...(sigh) but somehow I know if I take the time to relax and focus on the calmness and the thrill of the hunt I may even find an elusive shiny something that reminds me that I have treasure left inside me.


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