Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Roller-Coastery Weekend June 1, 2018

Filed under: ADHD,Autism,Life on the Jay train,Marriage,Special Needs Kids — The B Side @ 11:25 am
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I’m hoping this coming weekend will be less of a roller-coaster than the last one.  Never have I ever had such a roller-coastery 3 days.

Friday started out great.  I got out of work early ahead of the holiday weekend and instead of going straight home, I made the decision to spend some time alone and do girly things.  I visited Sephora and played with Rihanna’s line of make-up.  I ended up buying a cheaper Sephora brand lipstick that supposedly was similar to the Rihanna one.  I’m not sure I made the right choice.  I might still need to go get the real Snake Skin lipgloss.  Next, I went to Charming Charlie and even though I browsed all the displays and saw several cute things, I landed in the sale section where I got the cutest pair of gold flats for $8 and a $5 t-shirt that says “Live Wild & Free” in gold letters.  Guess what I’ll be wearing together?

Later that evening, cousins from New Jersey came for a visit.  We had a good time hanging out with them; drinking wine and chatting.  The next morning we took a quick trip to the river before they moved on to their next stop.

 

Then – We got the news that Shaunies beloved Grandpa in Jamaica had died.  It had been coming for a couple of months so it wasn’t a shock in that sense.  But still, it hurts.  A lot.  He was only 70 years old and the last time we saw him (exactly one year ago) he was as vibrant as ever; with no signs that anything was wrong.

 

On Sunday, we decided to try and keep our spirits up – partly for our sakes and partly for the kids sakes.  We went to the pool and had a nice time.  We all jumped and raced and showed off handstands and splashed and did summersaults.  In between all the water fun we ate snacks and just put our feet up and enjoyed the sun (and shade).  We closed out the afternoon with a trip to a bookstore.  All 4 of us love browsing book stores.

 

Then – We got the news that my Aunt was back in the hospital.  Her hip has been misbehaving lately and she’s about to have her 3rd surgery in as many months.  That’s not good news for anyone.  It’s particularly not good news for someone who is 90 years old and on the fragile side anyway.  It sucks.  Add to that, the medical bills are adding up and some uncomfortable conversations needed to be had.

 

On Monday, there was (as you can imagine) a lot of emotions swirling.  Lots of phone calls being made among Shaunie’s large and tight-knit family and plans being put in place.  Me worrying about my Aunt and trying to be supportive of S.  At one point I decided that spending some time outside would do me good.  I made the kids get their bikes and helmets and we headed out for a little exercise/fun.

Now understand this:  I’ve been trying to teach Jay to master a 2 wheeler bicycle for years.  It has been a struggle.  A STRUGGLE.  Mostly because he’s been scared.  He was certain that he would fall and hurt himself.  As long as I’ve been trying to teach him to learn, he’s been trying to convince me that he doesn’t need to and will get along in life just fine without that skill.

Well, on Monday, HE DID IT!!!!  It was so exciting and I was incredibly proud of him, but even better than that; he was proud of himself.  We rode for a while and when we were all done he asked me if I had caught his ride on video.  I had 🙂 .  Now, he wants to ride his bike every day and I am not mad about it.

 

There are other things too – Good and bad – But I’ll keep those close to my chest for now.  Unnu too faas.  That’s Jamaican for “you’re too nosey”.  Just kidding.  I love you for reading and following along.

Peace and love!

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Oh, Mothers Day. May 10, 2018

It is chilly in here today so I have the oversized scarf that doubles as a blanket draped across my lap.  It is keeping my bare legs warm.  I sit at my desk and look out the window.  It’s not my window though.  I am not a manager, yet, so I don’t get an office.  I sit in a quad of cubicles with the other accountants who are also not managers.  The window I am looking out sits on the other side of the glass wall that separates me from one of our company’s lawyers.  I like that I have visual access to the outside.  I have always been a fan of the outdoors.  I love the way the sun feels on my skin.  The heat never bothering me.  More recently, I have found that I also enjoy the first prickle of a chill that comes in the fall and the way my entire body tenses while I am outside building a snowman with my son.  In my head I know that being tense won’t keep me warm, but it is involuntary.  It feels like if I relax, even more of the coldness will get in.  I like the anticipation of it coming to an end.  I know that after being outside for a while, I will get to open my front door and warmth will envelop me.  Then there will be the tingling sensation as my extremities thaw.   The sweatpants I will inevitably don, following a hot shower will feel extra soft and comforting.  I will feel content.

 

Content.  I can think of few better words in the entire world.  When you are content, it means that – at that moment – you are truly happy.  It means you have a moment of peace.  Of joy.  Of acceptance.  Of calm.  It is freedom from worry or stress.  Even if it is fleeting, it is always welcome.

 

Despite my scarf blanket, a shiver runs down my spine.  Perhaps, it was not a good idea to leave home with wet hair this morning.  It is thick and curly so it takes a long time to air dry.  I can feel the dampness at the nape of my neck where my ponytail is tied.  I pull my bright green cardigan up higher, hoping that will help.  It does.  I am relieved.  I know it is temporary as the sweater will surely slide back to it’s more natural place across my shoulders.

 

I decide to take a break from responding to my work emails and processing the invoices that I know I will never stop coming in.  I check my personal email.  Most days, there are 1 or 2 announcing that new blog posts have been written by someone whose blog I follow.  Today there is only one.  Although I do vaguely remember seeing a notification a few days ago that went unacknowledged by me.  I will have to go look for it and catch up with that blogger.  Today, the one I am treated to was written by a woman who chose to tackle Mothers Day and the complicated feelings that it can stir in some.  Yes, Mothers Day is complicated for some.  For me.  I read her post, inserting myself into far too many of her scenarios.

Since I am nursing a cold, I stop midway through to blow my nose.  I think about the conversation I had with my 11 year old son the previous evening.

Ah, allergies finally got to you huh?

Nope.  It’s not allergies.  This is a cold.  I can tell the difference, I tell him.

A cold?  He asks incredulously.  Who gets a cold in the summer?  You haven’t even been out in the rain or anything.

I laugh.  Well, all it takes is for me to come in contact with the germs, I say.  Rain or not.

I marvel at this child.  I cannot believe how mature he is now.  How much more growing and maturing he still has left to do.  Mothering both he and his 10 year old brother is the best thing I have ever done.  It has brought me the most joy.  I neither want or need anything for Mothers Day, other than to know that they are happy and safe.

 

I read in the blog post about how we should take a moment to think of the women in our lives for whom mothers day brings sadness and that we should reach out to them with a kind word, or a card or gesture.

The woman who miscarried a few months prior.  I don’t know any, I think to myself.  The woman who has been unable to get pregnant in the first place after years of trying.  I pause for a bit before going on.  Yes, that is a tough one.  That wasn’t my story, but I do know that story well.  It is incredibly difficult.  The woman whose mom has just passed away.   The mother who is struggling to maintain her sanity while dealing with her teenagers.  I mentally add, the single mother who does not know how she will get through one more minute, much less one entire day or the next week, month, year.  I know that woman well.  My chests feels heavy with the memories of the days I was alone raising 2 special needs toddlers and the weight of trying to be all they needed as well as maintain a full time job.  It was the most difficult and exhausting time I’ve ever had in my life and there is no way anyone can understand it unless they have lived it.  At that time, I couldn’t even think of celebrating Mothers Day.  What was there to celebrate?  I push those thoughts away and continue reading.  I cannot get teary while sitting at my desk.

I continue reading.  The woman who gave her baby up for adoption, the one who is in jail, the still single 30 something year old who wants desperately to find her life partner and a chance to even begin the journey …  the list is long.  She is trying to make sure that every reader feels seen.

The woman who hasn’t spoken to her mom in years.  “She wishes things could have been different”, the author writes.  That one hits close to home.  Different.  Yes, there is so much that I wish could have been different in my own life.  I wish my Grandma were still here.  I smile as I think about her.  I wish I had a better, closer relationship with my actual mother.  Weeks, maybe even months will pass without any communication between us, and then we will talk, or text – always keeping things light, superficial.  There are no “I love yous” when we hang up, no inside jokes, we do not lean on each other for support or reach out for advice or to share good news.  On Sunday, she won’t wish me a happy Mothers Day.  Or at least, she never has in the past.  I will send her a message and she’ll respond with a polite thank you.

 

Finally the author gets to her final group.  My phone rings and even though I am eager to keep reading, I answer.  I am at work after all.  A few minutes later, I pull my browser back up and continue.  I realize that even though my body as shifted position and my sweater is back to its rightful spot, leaving my neck exposed and vulnerable to my damp hair, I no longer feel cold.  Then I sneeze into my elbow.  I should try a different cold medicine, I think.  The one I picked up at the drug store yesterday is not doing its job.  I wonder briefly if there is anything else I need to get while I am there.  I could use a box of tissues.  The toilet paper I’ve been using is harsh on my nose.  I toy with the idea of getting a Mothers Day card for my Mother-In-Law or GrandMother-In-Law, but at this point, it wouldn’t get to them on time.  I wish I had thought to get it sooner.  Just the tissues and a new medicine I decide.

 

I read on:

… there’s a stepmom smiling through her disappointment. She knows the marriage is new and everyone is trying to adjust and gracefully work out how to be a blended family. But she had hoped for a card or some acknowledgement this Mother’s Day. She’s loved her stepchildren as her own, but has struggled to gain their trust and love in return. As happy as she is that they are close with their mother, she hopes someday they’ll be close with her, too, and wishes that day were today.

 

I sit with this one for a moment.  The copier next to me is making loud noises.  Step-parenting is fraught with challenges for sure.  However, I bristle at her description.  I imagine that my own step mother might have tried to describe things that way in the early years.  She would have been wrong to do so.  She never loved me.  I won’t even add the part that says “as her own”.  She did not try to gain trust or love.  She was not happy about other close relationships I had and wished only to have me out of her life.  For reasons mostly unrelated to her own behaviour, she eventually got her wish.

Then there is my Shaunie.  She jumped into step-parenting head first.  She does love my children and they her.  In many ways, it is the best anyone could hope for.  That does not mean there are not times when things are not aligned properly.  Understandably there are times she feels unappreciated.  Or overwhelmed.  There are times she does not understand the things I do.  But how can she.  I will always feel differently about the boys than she does and those feelings will shape the course of my actions.

 

I glance at the clock on the lower right side of my laptop screen.  11:03.  It’s nearly time for me to eat lunch.  My stomach reacts to this realization.  A few new emails have come in and I need to address them.  I’ll tackle the easy ones now and save the ones that will require more time or brain energy for after lunch.  The lunch that will include the trip to the drug store where I have decided I will purchase 2 Mothers Day cards.  If I am lucky they will get to NJ on Saturday.  More likely though, they will get there on Monday; one day late.  I reason, that’s better than not at all.  I want the 2 women who have become family to me, to know that I appreciate them.

 

Another sneeze and sniffle.  In my mind, I add orange juice to the growing drug store list and gather up my phone and keys to head out.

 

Cash Crops Coming April 24, 2018

The other day I posted the below on Facebook.  (Real names edited to protect the innocent)

 

Me: I should get some more plants for in here. I love them so much. All that greenery. It’s just so beautiful. Yup, that’s what I need. More plants. Give me all the pants. All different kinds of plants. Big ones and small ones. I’ll take such good care of them. It will be great. And our air will be so fresh and clean. MORE PLANTS!!!

Shaunie: Nope. I’m not living in a jungle. We have enough.

Ace: Nope. You’ll just kill them like you did all the others. It’s not fair to the plants to be left in your care. You are a plant murderer.

Jay: Go ahead Mom. Do what makes you happy. Get your plants if you want to. I believe in you. You’ll keep them alive this time.

#MyLife

 

 

I have an update.

In social studies, Jay has been learning about Americas first colonists and about the revolutionary war.  It’s actually pretty cool that we live in Virginia because so much of the story played out in our back yard.  We have a couple of famous battlefields right in our town.  The house that George Washington was raised in, is a stones throw away.   Thomas Jeffersons home of Monticello is a history lovers must-see and interested visitors can tour the Yorktown Battle field which was the site of the last major battle of the American Revolution.  Around these parts, kids take school field trips to places like Jamestowne and Colonial Williamsburg.   But I digress.  *My kids get their chattiness honestly*

Like I was saying, Jay has been learning about colonial Virginia and you can’t talk about colonial Virginia without talking about tobacco.  He has learned that tobacco was a “cash crop”.  You know what that is … A crop produced so you can sell it and make money as opposed to a crop produced solely for the owners use or enjoyment.

 

What does this have to do with my love of plants you ask?  Well, I’ll tell you.

First though, you need to know that Jay came home very excited because he had found a 4 leaf clover so of course that meant he would have good luck.  In an effort to protect his 4 leaf clover, he placed it inside a zip loc bag (not sealed so oxygen could get in), then he placed it by the window where most of my plants are so they can get adequate sunlight.  Since he was over there, I asked him to water my plants; and he happily obliged.  Somehow this led to the boys counting my plants (7 thriving) and Ace having a grand time teasing me, yet again, about the sad state of one of my bamboo plants.  I had 2 and only 1 of them is currently doing well.  Jay was quick to come to my defense.  I love that kid.  The 4 of us got into quite the lively and funny conversation about whether or not I should get more plants.  Clearly I need to replace the 1 dying bamboo so that the 1 that’s doing well can have a buddy.  Jay was ready to fund it with his piggy bank money.  Ace and Shaunie were totally opposed to the idea.

THEN, I had the BRILLIANT idea of asking Jay if HE would like a plant (or 2) of his own that HE could take care of.  He was quick to say yes.

LOOPHOLE!!!!!!

 

Shaunie couldn’t say no to Jay having his own plants to tend – even if she gave me a wicked side eye while agreeing.  She did make a slight alteration and suggested that he grow something besides flowers.  Something like tomatoes maybe.  Jay was all for it and said “that’s a great idea, instead of just flowers, I’ll grow a cash crop and we can sell what I grow”.   So now, we have a plan to go to the store this weekend and purchase all the necessary things to grow tomatoes … (and maybe carrots and bell peppers as well cause I think those are pretty easy and I have a hard time just buying 1 thing when I hit up a garden section … but don’t tell anyone I said that).

 

Sometimes it’s hard but this is the good stuff March 9, 2018

It’s been a bit of a week.  I’m. So. Tired.

 

It all started last weekend when we left home at 9:15am on Saturday and didn’t return until almost 8pm on Sunday.

 

It was a weekend of tennis lessons for the kids and shopping for groom & grooms entourage suits and a fun game night at the besties house that lasted until the wee hours of the morning and more games and a long ass drive home due to a huge sign falling over on the highway.

 

Then it was Monday.

The work week meant, early morning wake ups and more tennis and my birthday celebrations and track and field activities for the big boy which required a last minute trip to the doctors office and coffee spilled all over the car and tests to study for and – I don’t even know what else.   Now that I’m writing, it honestly doesn’t seem that out of the ordinary or bad, so I really don’t know why I’m so exhausted.

 

By Thursday evening I wasn’t sure how I would make it to work on Friday- but I knew I had to.  Can we say depleted?

Ace was happy to have a little alone time with me so we could read his newest comic book together.

Jay came home really excited to tell me that he’d be having pancakes and pizza the next day.  Much more nonchalantly he was like, “Oh, yeah, I was named student of the month for being overall, very respectful.  What???  There is no way to be down, annoyed or overwhelmed when your kid gets rewarded for being respectful.  Especially when it’s THIS kid.  I cannot say it enough – We have come so far and he has accomplished so much.  It’s truly mind blowing.

Ace too had gotten a note from his teacher saying that he’d done a good deed and helped out a classmate who was sick.  *high five kiddo*

We took it easy on ourselves and threw some beef patties in the oven for dinner.  Jay was a little concerned about how many would be left after we all ate because they are his fave and he doesn’t really relish sharing them with the rest of us.

We teased each other about our feet and teeth and fat bellies.  (Don’t ask, just go with it).

It also turns out that some of us – ok I – have “thick thighs but dainty ankles“.  That thigh/ankle one was supposed to be a compliment – I think.

We laughed and hugged and did the things we do every night – take out clothes for the next day and brush teeth and sign school paperwork and answer questions about topics discussed in health class and then this morning everyone woke up healthy after a good nights sleep.

This is the normal, regular, every day stuff. This is the GOOD STUFF!

 

It’s Friday now.  Ace has more track and field activities this evening.  There’s tennis again tomorrow.  Shaunie and I are going to a show.  We lose an hour.  Laundry from 2 weeks ago needs to be folded and put away and we definitely need to go grocery shopping.  Looking ahead to next week; work will continue to be busy since my department is down one worker, there are dentist/doctor appointments that either need to be attended or rescheduled and Jay & I have a “Shake Your Shamrock” party to attend at his school.

The truth is though, I’m ready and looking forward to it all.  I recognize how fortunate I am to have this life I have.  Being tired just comes with the territory.

(Don’t call me on Sunday afternoon however, I’m gonna try to sneak in a nap.)

 

MY Jamaica January 25, 2018

Filed under: Family — The B Side @ 9:54 am
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From the first post, you know we went to Jamaica for 3 days.  It wasn’t a long time at all, and yet, it will yield 2 very different blog posts.

Here goes # 2.  This post is kind of like a love letter to Jamaica.  I’m not going to talk about the Jamaica that tourists get though.

(Beach photos taken from Google)

 

Although, the beautiful beaches are one part of my home, this love letter won’t hide the flaws that we have.

 

I already told you that we arrived exhausted.  We hadn’t showered in 40 hours or slept in 32 when we landed at the airport in Kingston.  Nonetheless, we took a pic at the airport so we could send it to our friends who were stuck in the cold.

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On our way to the house I noticed a restaurant that was not there before.  It immediately caught our attention and we decided that we had to check it out before we left.  We did and it was pretty neat.

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Now listen, Mexican food is not one of my favourites really, but … Ackee and plantain nachos?  Jerk chicken burritos?  Cool!  I’m in.  (Don’t let the $900 price tag for the burritos turn you off.  That’s about US$7.)

We washed them down with – what else?  Jamaica’s “cerveza” of course – Red Stripe.

 

Walking down the street we stopped to purchase some fruit.  I would never in a million years purchase food from any of these establishments in America but in Jamaica, it’s all good.  Plus, the customer service from the proprietor was good.

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Take a look at these yellow pages billboards that tried to fat shame me, this guy selling shoes on the curb and the “Fun Fast Food” stand.

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On Saturday, we stole away for an hour to get massages.  They are just as good as any you’d get in the States but for half the price.  Also, in a  first for me, the full body massage included getting my tummy rubbed.  Interesting.

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(At the spa)

 

Considering that it was such a short trip, we squeezed a lot in.  I got to see some frineds from high school and tried a drink called a Henny Colada.  Let me tell you … It was GOOD.

In classic Jamaican fashion, there are lots things that could get you in a twist if you let it, but you just cannot.  Hot water in private homes is a luxury.  My Aunt has a water heater which is great but it needs to be turned on when you need it and then off to conserve electricity.  We had forgotten to turn it on before heading out one night so we took COLD showers.   Wooooo!    I am not ashamed to say that I did not wash my back or my hair that time.  I laughed about it, sent Shaunie in and wished her well.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t wash her back either.  While we were out, (and I was sipping on my Henny Colada), one of my friends ordered food.  The waitress brought it out to him and then informed him that he had made the wrong choice and should have gotten something else.  He asked her why she hadn’t said that BEFORE he ordered.  Turns out she was right and it wasn’t very good.  Oh well.  He’ll know for next time.

At yet another food spot, I was to get a cup of tea.  After waiting for a few minutes, I was told that the hot water machine wasn’t working.  After waiting for a while longer, I asked if I could get something else instead.  I was told that I would have to pay for it separately since tea is what came with my combo meal.  (huh?).  I didn’t let it bother me.  It’s island life.  I asked for my tea bag and a cup and took it to go.  I could make my own tea at the house.  Shaunie was incredulous.  Her comment was … “THAT could never happen in America. They’d get horrible Yelp reviews and they’d be out of business.”  LMAO!!!!!

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My Aunt lives with her best friend.  They’ve been best friends forever.  That best friend has a friend who she’s known since she was 4 years old.  He and his daughter picked us up from the airport.  The daughter is also the person who stays with my Aunt if the friend needs to go out so she’s not home alone.  That’s just the way things go in MY Jamaica.  Friends are family and they help each other any way they can.  It’s super common for folks to have that kind of community and you cannot buy that for all the money in the world.

One day we had to go see my Aunts cardiologist – who by the way – is a past student of hers and not only doesn’t charge her for services, she also got the other doctors who treated my Aunt when she was admitted to the hospital not to charge her either.

 

Driving around in Kingston, you don’t see beaches or tourists in bikinis, but you do see lots of interesting things.  You see local guys trying to wash your windows at stop lights to earn a buck and you see beggars asking for money and/or food.

I tend to fan off the window washers, because they can be a bit annoying, but this time around I was feeling generous so we gave one a few dollars.  I also gave a beggar some food.

We didn’t take any pictures of them.

Life for many locals isn’t easy … But I love that no matter how hard life is, Jamaican people find joy.  They love music and dancing and on any night of the week, there is some party to attend.  I love that it’s generally understood that when it rains people don’t go to work.  I love that we are proud of our little country.  I love that they play the national anthem at the start of every movie in the cinema and I love that Jamaican people love a reason to dress up.  They tend to keep their places neat and tidy no matter what they are working with.  I love that strangers say good morning when they walk by you and that children address adults as “Miss This” or “Mister That”.  You may even be called Auntie or Grandma by a complete stranger.  It’s a sign of respect.  I love that friends just stop by without calling first and that they may come bearing the gift of some mangoes since it’s early in mango season and they are hard to come by right now or they may come looking to see if you have a sweet snack to offer them.  I love that Jamaica has awesome ice-cream; Although, as a general rule, menu’s are kind of useless because chances are good that at any given time, they won’t have all the listed items.  On this trip, I had to settle for grapenut since Devon House was out of rum and raisin.  No problem.

 

In Jamaica, there is a lot to be desired.  Crime and unemployment rates are too high and the education system doesn’t cater to the poor.  In some areas, there are more potholes than there is road, but people are willing to share the little they have, on January 21st they are still wishing you Happy New Year, there is always something to celebrate, men get very creative when dishing out compliments and you can always find a reason to smile.  Also, as my Aunts friend joked when we woke to the news on the 19th, “At least OUR government is not shut down.”

This is not the all-inclusive resort Jamaica but it’s the Jamaica that has my heart.

 

(In the garden and driving on the left while eating my ice-cream)

 

(More back yard garden and the mountains just outside the front gate)

 

How Was it? January 23, 2018

Filed under: Family — The B Side @ 3:15 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We went to Jamaica for 3 days.  When I got back, everyone asked me the same question and it’s one I have a hard time answering.  How was it?  I can’t answer that with a few quick words.

 

It wasn’t an easy trip travel wise and it wasn’t a cheap trip, financially, and even emotionally it was complicated, but it was worth everything to make my Auntie happy.

The travel included a 4 hour drive then a one hour drive then a 7 hour wait in the freezing cold, then a 2 hour wait on the tarmac, then a 3 hour flight then a 2 hour flight then a 20 minute drive.  That was just to get there.  No, that’s not typical – it’s just the way this trip went.

 

On one hand, it was great because it’s always great to go back home.  The air smells and feels different.  There’s a different energy to the spirit of the place and I feel it the minute I step off the airplane.  The food is delicious and I love the sounds of animals and music that permanently fill the air and I love being surrounded by the language(?) I grew up hearing and speaking.

On the other hand, it wasn’t a vacation.  We went at this time specifically because my Auntie is having some health issues and we wanted to celebrate her 90th birthday with her.  Because she’s 90 and has health issues, every time I see her feels like it’s going to be the last time.  That makes me sad.

On the other hand again, she’s doing as well as you can expect.  She’s not bed ridden or anything and we had good conversation and she still makes jokes and she is at peace with how her life has been and whatever is to come.  She’s loved and appreciated and she knows it.  She’s being well taken care of, medically and personally.  I couldn’t want anything else for her.

Yet, it’s hard to see someone who has always been fiercely independent become less so.   Mostly it’s hard because I know that she doesn’t feel comfortable relying on others or needing to be taken care of.

For her birthday she got what she asked for.  It was a lovely evening.  We got Chinese food take out and her best friend made a chocolate cake; from scratch.  There was chocolate icing too, also from scratch.  We put the fancy table cloth on the table as well as fancy napkins.  She opened the presents we had brought for her and she read a letter that Ace had written to her.   She had a whiskey and we sat with our feet up, talking.

I was surprised that hearing her read the letter from Ace was what made me get emotional.  Something about my oldest living loved one reading a letter from my son just got to me.  As she nears the end of her life, his letter was so full of youthful energy.  He told her about the Play Mation that he got for Christmas and talked about how much he wished he was there with her since Virginia is cold.

How near is the end though?  It’s hard to say.  Honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if she made it to 91.  To 92.

As happy as she was to have us there, she wanted no part of us sitting around “babysitting” her.  She wanted us to go out and have fun.  We didn’t make it to any beaches (because that would have meant being gone for hours) but we did do little outings around the city and we were able to go out at night with friends and cousins after Auntie went to sleep.  We got home at the same time that she was waking up in the morning – And this made her feel good.  It was just like old times.  It’s been a long running joke between the 2 of us that we could easily share a 1 bedroom apartment with 1 bed because we wouldn’t need to use it at the same time.

 

I don’t have a good way to end this.  I just love her so much and every time I leave it’s hard.

I don’t want to make this post feel sad though because she’s not sad and she doesn’t make anyone around her feel sad.  She just takes care of her dog and listens to her music and reads her books and enjoys her flowers and does her sudoku and drinks her coffee or beer or whiskey depending on the time of day.  Oh, apparently she also started drinking Smirnoff Ice after our visit last year because Shaunie had left one there and my Auntie discovered that she liked it.  She can’t lift heavy things and she doesn’t cook anymore and her doctor doesn’t think it’s safe for her to be left alone, even for a little bit, much to her annoyance, but she takes it very well when I tease her and she hasn’t lost her spunk or her interest in what’s happening with the family or in the news.  She’s the sweetest, kindest, most delicate person ever.  But she’s no sycophant or door mat.  She’s the sweetest, kindest, most delicate boss of a brilliant lady you could ever know.

 

 

How Did We Get Here? January 10, 2018

I started looking through old photos.  I was looking for the one that felt like the right one to post online today.

 

There are a lot of things I will always remember about raising my boys.  There are feelings I will never forget having.  Good and bad ones.

Looking through the old pictures, I was hit with an unexpected wave of emotion.  It’s been such a long time since I got misty about Jay and his maturation.

 

He’s ten years old today.  I can scarcely believe it.

According to Google, typical 10 year olds, have pretty well developed gross and fine motor skills.  They are also getting to the age where peer pressure may become an issue.  They tend to prefer friends of the same gender and they are getting better at handling their emotions.

 

By these accounts, I’d say Jay is a typically developing 10 year old.  There are no concerns about his motor skills.  He has oodles of self-esteem and a generally good sense of himself.  He notices and is aware of what other people are wearing and what games they are playing and he is interested in joining in and being part of the crew – but he is not afraid to do his own thing.  He’s not a “follower”.   He’s empathetic.  When he and his brother have been fighting, he tells the story in such a way that makes him look like the innocent one – *spoiler alert* – He’s not always the innocent one.  He’s mostly friends with other boys.  He likes video games.  He hates homework and chores, but he does them.

 

The old pictures though – They tell a different story.  They show a little boy who focused on things no-one else cared to notice.  A single blade of grass at the park.  A chip in the wall at the museum.  A butterfly outside the Church at my sisters wedding.  A broken piece of glass in the sand.

They show a little boy who experienced the world in a totally different way from other children.  In a bouncy house, he is sitting in a corner watching his beloved Thomas train bounce up and down as other kids jump.  In Jamaica, he is mesmerized by the ants on the sidewalk.  At the aquarium, he holds his hand up to the sun and plays with the shadows it makes.  At the camp site, while the other boys are racing, he is drawing circles in the dirt with a stick.  At the bowling alley, he is on the floor, staring at the swirls in the carpet pattern.

 

The pictures (and Shaunie) reminded me of the time we stopped at Walmart and he decided he wanted a bag of cheese.  He didn’t eat cheese then.  He doesn’t eat cheese now except on pizza.  But he wanted the bag of cheese.  He got it and it made him happy.

The pictures reminded me of a boy who would not wear short sleeved shirts or shorts no matter how hot it was and a boy who would rather roam around the produce section of a supermarket than the aisles of a toy store and who would be happier playing with a bag of carrots than a transformer.

 

He is not that little boy anymore.  I kind of miss it.  It’s a weird feeling – Me missing that Jay.

It was not an easy time.  But it was a time filled with a total and complete love.  I was consumed by him.  I thought about him and worried about him every minute of every day.  Now, of course, I still think about him a lot, but it’s different.  He’s growing up and he doesn’t need me in the same way anymore.  In a way, I feel almost like I have lost something.  But I have my pictures (and this blog) to hold onto – and even as I have lost 1 thing, I have gained something more precious in it’s place.  I now have a son who is happy and content infinitely more often than he is sad or frustrated or angry.

 

He asked to have a birthday party this year.  He’s never asked for one before.  I had to do it.

This Saturday we will host a sip n’ paint party for 13 kids.  7 of them are kids from his school who I have never met.  They’re his friends.  He made a list of invitees (5 boys and 2 girls) and we made invitations which he handed out.

He’s very excited about the party and I hope all goes well with it.  There will be no singing of the birthday song.  But there will be presents and cake and art and goody bags buckets.

 

When I stop to think about it, I truly do not know how we got here.  Everything we did and everything he learned seemed so pain-staking; yet, it has all happened so quickly.  But here we are.  Here with a 10 year old who is ready to tackle all that being a pre-teen has to throw at him.  Here with a 10 year old who has an amazing support team.  A 10 year old who makes me laugh constantly and who gets on his brothers nerves and who wears bow ties to school and who tells it like it is and who has secret goodnight handshakes with Shaunie and who now needs to get his passport renewed for the 2nd time.

I am so thankful to him for taking me on this parenting journey.  It’s not a journey I could have ever imagined and a few years ago, it’s one I would have said I didn’t want to be on.  It has, however, been the single most transformative thing to ever happen to me and I wouldn’t change it, or him, for all the beef patties or Chick-Fil-A in the world.

 

Happy Birthday Jay.  You are loved – Beyond!