Life On The B Side

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

3 out of 3 October 4, 2018

Last Sunday was a pretty quiet and uneventful day.  To be honest, the entire weekend had been pretty quiet and uneventful.  There was lots of electronics time and lots of time spent in pajamas and lots of “every man for themself” where food was concerned.

 

One of the few times we left the house was when Jay and I went for a bike ride on Sunday evening.  It seemed like a great idea BEFORE we went.  1) Fresh air.  2) Exercise.  3) Bonding Time.

The reality of it was somewhat different.

 

I mean, it was still good, but also:

As soon as we got the bikes from the back yard and brought them to the front, Jay announced that he needed a snack break.  I stood there watching him munch on Doritos.  Finally he put the bag with the remaining chips in his cargo pocket and we were off.  OK good.

Except, I spent a lot of time reminding him to stay to the side of the road – instead of riding down the middle.  We made it around the block one time and then he parked in front of our door claiming he needed to take another snack break.  As he was snacking on more chips, mosquitos were snacking on me.  Not so much fun.  Although it may have been entertaining for any neighbours watching me dance around and flail my arms.

I managed to get him back on the bike after a few minutes where there was more of me working over time to keep him out of the middle of the road.

*Please note it’s not a main road. There’s light traffic in our development and drivers are well aware that it’s a hot bed for kids playing outside but it’s still a little stressful for me as the parent.*

 

We were half way around one more block and Jay stopped riding because he couldn’t make it up the hill, plus he needed water.  Fortunately I had some.

As we walked towards home, he stopped repeatedly to watch a family of geese, to check out a little girl playing cornhole in her yard, to complain about the hill we were climbing, to ask me if I was sure he wouldn’t get run over by a car, to confirm that he’d get more snacks when we got home, to pose for pictures and to wave at children calling to us from their bedroom windows.

 

All in all, we were outside for over an hour and we didn’t go more than 3 blocks.

It was one on one time spent outside with the boy though and I still count it as exercise because the alternative was me sitting on the couch so I guess we hit 3 out of 3.

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Birthday Buddies Bust September 27, 2018

A couple of weeks ago Jay came home from school with a flyer advertising “Breakfast With Buddies”.  Basically, students were allowed to invite someone (a non-student) to have breakfast with them in the school cafeteria.  As a mom who works a full time job, I rarely make it to these kinds of events.  I can’t remember the last time I chaperoned a trip. It’s been years.  I attend concert recitals and I’m always available if there is an issue where I have to meet with a teacher but I’ve never been to a field day or to the annual Thanksgiving lunch – And before today, I hadn’t been to a “Muffins with Mom” or any other fun breakfast gathering.

When the flyer came home, I knew I wanted to go.  This is Jays last year in elementary school which means it’s my last opportunity to engage in these kinds of activities with him.  Lately, I have been feeling a compulsion to make the most of the time we have here.  To NOT put things off.

I asked Jay if he’d like me to go with him and he gave me an enthusiastic yes.  I put it on my calendar and let my job know that I’d be in late.

 

Today was the day.

As we pulled into the parking lot, Jay told me that he hoped there would be bacon.  I told him I didn’t think there would be, but we would see.

When we filed into the cafeteria along with all the other families, Jay disappointedly said, “Aw man, all they have are donuts. Ugh!”

 

Jay got his donut, I got mine and a cup of coffee.  We sat and chit chatted for all of one minute before he said:

“You can go now if you need to.”

 

I told him that I hadn’t even finished my donut yet.  He said “Oh, I’ll sit with you while you finish.”  As if he was doing me a great favour.

As soon as I took the last bite he let me know that I could take my coffee to go.  He was over the breakfast.

Well.  OK then.

 

At least I got to sleep in for an extra 90 minutes – which I very much appreciated.

 

Claim Your Place September 10, 2018

I am not a stranger to the dark

“Hide away,” they say

“Cause we don’t want your broken parts”

I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars

“Run away,” they say

“No one’ll love you as you are”

{All italics are lyrics from the song This Is Me in The Greatest Showman}

 

 

People get uncomfortable when they come face to face with – different/new (or new to them).  People don’t like to be uncomfortable.

 

A woman should be cute and quiet and lady-like and know her place.  She shouldn’t be loud and assertive and stand up for herself.  

Black people shouldn’t bbq in the park and gay couples shouldn’t publicly show affection for each other.  

Tattoos and piercings don’t belong in board rooms or operating rooms or holding a gavel.  

And definitely, people with disabilities/physical abnormalities should not be brought out into public spaces where they might disturb other – normal – patrons.  They are loud and people want quiet.  They are fidgety and people want stillness.  They speak in an unusual way and people want what they are used to.  Their wheelchairs take up so much space.  They move at their own, maybe slower, pace and people want to rush through.  They look funny with their protective helmet or dwarf fingers or extra hairy faces and it might scare the children. 

 

 

But I won’t let them break me down to dust

I know that there’s a place for us

For we are glorious

 

 

“What are they doing?” Jay asks as we lie in bed watching The Greatest Showman. 

“They’re putting up posters because they’re looking for interesting people to join the show,” I tell him.  

A few minutes later, he’s back with more questions.

“Why are those people ripping the posters down?” He wants to know.  I am in my element now.  Well, I say, those are people who want to be in the show because they have something special to offer so they need the poster since it has all the information on it. 

 

 

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down

I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out

I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

 

 

I continue softly, “Those people were all told they were weird and now they can join a show that celebrates them.”

 

One of the most fierce and powerful scenes is the singing of This Is Me when they are denied access to the high society party.  They were done with being hidden in the shadows and were ready to claim all their beautiful weirdness.  I loved it.

 

Look out cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me

 

 

If I could make one song the anthem for my family, this would be it.  Oh how I want my boys to be strong and secure in who they are.  I don’t want Ace’s sensitivity to make him shrink away from speaking up.  I don’t want Jay to purposely exclude himself out of fear that he’ll be called weird.  It takes a lot of bravery to boldly say, this is who I am, just deal with it. 

There were so many times when there were people who probably wished that they didn’t have to deal with the likes of us.  The day at the supermarket when Jay had one of the biggest meltdowns he’s ever had.  The day at his neighborhood school where we fought over him zipping up his jacket himself.  The morning at Church where we both left sobbing.  In classrooms where Ace put his teachers through the ringer.  Going through security at the airport.  Trying to leave the zoo.  At my own wedding.  You name it. 

We never quit trying.  I didn’t have it in me to stifle my boys adventures because I was worried about making other people comfortable. 

Yes, we went to autism friendly movies and we chose aisle seats for Thomas Live so we could make a quick and easy get away if necessary and we turned down some invitations and Jay was in a self contained special education class for a while and Ace got help for his ADHD but every single one of those things were for US and to make my childrens lives better.  NOT to appease strangers. 

 

 

Another round of bullets hits my skin

 

 

On Facebook, my friend tagged Shaunie and I in some pictures from her wedding.  In 1 of the pictures from the photo booth, we were kissing; just as most of the couples who took booth pictures had done. 

Two women kissing is still weird for many.  “We love you guys and we want you to be happy,” they say “we support you, but why do you have to be so public about it?”  How easy would it be to ask the friend to untag us or take the picture down altogether.  As easy as it was for Zac Efron to let go of Zendaya’s hand in the movie when his father saw him with her; a “beneath him” circus performer.  In that moment it was easier for him to love her behind the curtain, out of everyones view.  In the end, his love was strong enough to drown out his shame and he loved her openly and proudly.  That.  That’s what everyone deserves.

 

 

Well, fire away cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in

We are bursting through the barricades

And reaching for the sun

We are warriors

Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Won’t let them break me down to dust

I know there’s a place for us

For we are glorious

 

 

Parents coach and remind and give advice all the time.  Among the most important of these is for me to teach my boys to be true to themselves.  To not be followers.  To not dim their shine to make someone else happy. 

Boys:  Don’t hide away.  Not even the supposed broken parts.  The right people will love you as you are.  Be a glorious warrior.  There is space enough for you.  All of you.  March to your own beat.  Don’t be scared.  Be seen.  Be you!

 

Oh and the last thing … Be sure to make fun of your moms singing by howling like a wounded dog every time she dares belt out a tune. 🙂 

 

Exactly the Labor Day, Birthday day that I needed September 4, 2018

The last couple of weeks have been good in some ways but trying in others.  Even though I share a lot, there are some things that are way too sensitive for public consumption so my blog has been quiet.  Ya know; while I stewed and processed and deep breathed and soaked in the fabulousness that was getting to spend time with my best friends from near and far.  That part (the time spent with best friends) was truly awesome.

 

Yesterday Ace turned 12 years old (Yay!) and it was exactly the Birthday, Labor Day, Unofficial End of Summer day that I needed.

Shaunie had left out 2 new boxes of Legos and a new book for them the night before so they’d have something to occupy them until we woke up.  At 7:45 on the morning of the birthday, I walked into Ace’s room, to find him and Jay in his bed, reading the new Dog Man book and laughing together.  Swoon.  I wished my boy a happy birthday and then Jay told me that he had offered Ace his new Lego as a gift.  Seriously … How sweet!

Next, we revealed Ace’s real gift – A PS4 gaming system.  To say he was happy is putting it mildly.  He then opened a birthday card containing a Game Stop gift card so yeah, later in the morning, after he came back from getting a fresh to death haircut, we went to Game Stop and then to Target where Jay spent his own pocket money buying Robux (video game currency) and Ace splurged on the biggest Nerf gun they had.

Back at home, everyone just kinda hung out.  The boys were happy to play with their new toys, I was happy to have them home and know that they were happy.

In the afternoon, we hit the pool for a bit, made a cake, had a Nerf war, played a board game and chit chatted as we all got ready for the next day.  Jay wants to be something scary this year for Halloween.  Possibly that guy from Scream.  Ace initially thought he wanted to be a paper boy, but has now switched to Dead Pool.  Quite the pivot.  Jays really big news is that he has expanded his food repertoire and now eats rice, chicken, sausages, scrambled eggs and corn.  What in all the hell???  For the first time EVER, we all sat at the table and ate the same meal for dinner.  This is great but I’m still kind of stunned.  Ace will need to change clothes for gym class this year and he’s not excited about that but he IS looking forward to all the other things that 7th grade has to offer.  School did not used to be a place he felt comfortable.  How far the boys have come.  I love it.

 

I spent a little one on one time with each boy before they went to sleep and everyone was out like a light by 9pm.

It was a simply delightful way to spend a day.

 

This morning, Ace was up and ready.  Jay let me know that he would not be posing for any pictures because he was not happy about going back to school and this was not a day to celebrate.  *spoiler alert*  He posed for pictures because this mama is not above bribery.

In the end, he was glad to see his old friends and the day started just fine.  I got my first pumpkin item (a muffin) of the season and there are no work events on my calendar for this week so it shouldn’t be too bad in the office.

I’m looking forward to seeing the boys later and hearing about their first day.  Oh, and also, eating more of that birthday cake.  🙂

 

The Knowing – Part 2 August 10, 2018

< Read part 1 here >

 

One small thing at a time honey.”

 

That’s what I commented a few days ago on a friends Facebook post.  She was sharing that she felt drained and overwhelmed by how difficult life was at the moment.

 

One small thing at a time.  That’s what helps me.  Even though it doesn’t FEEL small when you get up to do it.

 

One day, I made the phone call I was supposed to have made days earlier.

I also made arrangements for the boys trip to New Jersey.

Whew.

I went home and went to bed early.  That’s what I needed that day after doing the difficult task of working all day AND making 2 phone calls.

The next day, as soon as I got home from work, I grabbed the hooks and put that picture right back on the wall where it belonged.

Something inside me exhaled a little.

The mountain still loomed large ahead of me but I’d taken that first couple of steps.

One small thing at a time.

 

I rescheduled the dentist appointment.  That one I just couldn’t do.  I know my mental limits.  I’ll try again next month.

I washed dishes and moved the vacuum cleaner from beside the dining room table to the “cleaning supplies/tools” nook.

 

As I crossed things off the list, my chest felt lighter.

Shaunie asked me what I was going to do next.  “Put clean sheets on the guest bed” I said.  She replied.  “I’ll do it“.

Upstairs, I put a couple shirts in a drawer and the handbags that were lounging beside the bed went back to their rightful position.

Exhale.

On my way out the door headed to work, I picked up the politicians flyer that had been thrown onto my lawn and used it to dust away cobwebs that had formed between the light and the spigot attached to the house.

Small things.  They help.

 

As of the publishing of this post, I am back to “normal”.  The kids are home from spending 2 weeks with their Grandma.  The house is pretty tidy although we haven’t done any unpacking from all our travels so there are 8(!) pieces of luggage packed into the den.  We haven’t done any of that laundry either.  I’m not worried about it at all though.  I’m glad it’s the weekend and we don’t have any set plans.  We will probably end up going to the movies or something equally chill.  I am really looking forward to next weekend since we will be hanging out with friends and family from all over.

 

~*~

 

I recognize that my anxiety is not as crippling as other peoples.

I do not take it for granted that I have the ability to recognize my emotions for what they are.  I know better than to make big decisions while I am in that state.

*Thankfully (and maybe because I know myself so well now) the moments of being down pass more quickly than they used to.*

I do not take it for granted that I am fairly good at dealing with my brain in a healthy way.  Never turning to drugs or other dangerous habits.

I do not take for granted that I am lucky to have a supportive and understanding partner.  She’s never dismissive or condescending.

I have gotten better at leaving a space open for love to seep in.

I know there was a line in part 1 where I said “How can I explain it to her?” … But she knows the full me.  Before I ever hit publish on Part 1, I sent it to Shaunie.  In the past, I would have held it all inside.  Progress.

Truth be told, I didn’t plan to or think I would ever hit publish on it.

But here we are.

I still wonder if I am being too open.

 

 

I hope that if nothing else, my writing helps others to know they are not alone.  I hope it makes people see that there’s no shame in doing what you need to do to keep your self sane.

I hope that people see that even though it’s scary to be vulnerable, it makes a huge difference when you let it be known that you need help and when you allow yourself to be helped.  Whether that help is in the form of talking to a professional therapist, or taking a daily prescription medication, or just letting a caring and concerned loved one know that you need a break so they cook you dinner and don’t give you a hard time about wasting time on frivolous TV.  Whatever you actually need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Knowing – Part 1 August 9, 2018

When things get hard, when they are complicated, I get quiet. I curl inward. That doesn’t mean my brain, soul and heart shut off. It means they are working overtime.

< Lori Duron – https://raisingmyrainbow.com/2018/08/06/one-mom/ >

 

 

Therapist:  So, what brings you here today?

Me:  I don’t know.  I just feel overwhelmed.  With my life.

 

That was how my very first therapy session started.  It was the spring of 2013.

At the time, I had a job that I wasn’t happy at.  Pretty much no money.  A 7 year old with not-yet-diagnosed ADHD who was struggling in school.  A 6 year old whose autism had a choke-hold on us.  The relationships with my husband, father, mother and grandfather varied from shitty to non-existent.  I had curled inward : away from my friends.  I felt very alone.

I couldn’t catch my breath.

I didn’t go to therapy thinking there was anything they could do or say to “fix” my life.  I mean really.  What could they do about any of the things I was anxious about or overwhelmed by?  But also, what other choice did I have?  I had to try something.  Giving up has never been an option for me.  I suppose that’s a good thing.

 

I ended up going to 5 sessions then.   Five weeks is how long it took me to realize life boiled down to 2 things.

  1. Sometimes things suck and you just have to get to a place where you accept that and stop looking for/hoping for/expecting different.  And move on.
  2. Some things – like your job and your marriage – can change. How much are YOU willing to accept before YOU make steps towards making that change?  And move on?

 

Knowing those 2 things doesn’t prevent anxiety and the feeling of being overwhelmed by what most people would consider minor issues, from stopping by uninvited.

 

 

Summer 2018.

Shaunie:  What’s wrong?  You got quiet.

Me:  I’m just in a funk.

 

How do I explain it to her?  She’s a “fixer”.  But there’s no easy fix when depression creeps in.  You know all the things.

You know it could be worse.

You know there are people who love you.

You know you have lots of reasons to be happy and grateful.

You know if you ask her to do something specific she will make it happen.

 

You also know she’s dealing with her own schtuff and the last thing she needs is you adding to her plate a bunch of “to-do’s” that will ease you to some extent but won’t magically “un-funk” you so there’s no point in putting her through that.

 

The problem isn’t in the knowing though.  It’s in the feeling.

I feel on the verge of tears often.

I feel exhausted just thinking about the things I need to do.

I feel resentful of people who have even one thing that I want. (Eg. A short commute.)

I feel badly about myself because I take these feelings out on the people who least deserve it.

 

Everything feels like a huge problem and like it will take energy I don’t have.  The house needs tidying up.  I feel fat.  I look old.  I have to renew my license.  The kids need new passports (we didn’t get it done 2 weeks ago like we were supposed to).  I need to catch up on over 200 work emails.  I have a phone call to a sick friend I’m supposed to make.  I need to make arrangements with the kids dad for him to see them again before the summer is out.  I got an email saying my credit score had dropped.  I don’t know why and I can’t bring myself to investigate.  Not today anyway.  Maybe tomorrow.  I always have another dentist appointment scheduled.   And I always know that the next one won’t be the last one.  I am SO OVER THE DENTIST.  And you mean, I need to stop at the gas station and fill up the car?  Ugh!

 

No, I don’t want tea or to laugh or to exercise.  I love her so much for seeing me.  For trying without being pushy or annoyed.  For wanting to be whatever I need in that moment.  But all I want is to curl up in bed.  It’s all I can manage.  That’s what feels easy.  Doable.

We cuddle and I fall asleep.

But I can’t live in bed.  I have to shower and go to work and make phone calls and wash dishes and hang back up that picture that fell off the wall.

 

Ace starts 7th grade in September.  I am not too worried about that.  It’s his second year of middle school and last year went pretty well.  He has a cell phone now, thanks to his Grandma, so I will have to figure out some rules around his use of it as well as install some parental controls.  But that, thankfully, is at least one thing I can put off for a little while.  They don’t come back home for a little while.

Jay.

My heart constricted a little when I typed his name.  For the last couple of years, I had not fretted about the start of the new school year.  But he’s going into 5th grade which will be his last year of elementary school.  I cannot handle the thought of him leaving that environment.  Elementary school felt safe for him.  His teachers, the mostly innocent and friendly and understanding kids, the easy routine.  Middle school will be different.  Totally different set of students as none of his current friends will attend the same middle school as him.  Different school staff who don’t know and love him yet.  Totally different daily routine.  Different expectations.  Different with Jay is scary.  Why am I already stressing about next year?  I don’t know.

 

Things will settle down soon enough.  I will get over these feelings eventually.  My thoughts will become rational again.  I KNOW this because I’ve been down this road before.  More than once.  The feelings will pass as smoothly as they came.  And in this case, the knowing is the force holding me together and the best of life jackets.

 

 

~ Don’t worry about me.  I’m fine.  Part 2 to follow soon ~

 

*Edited to add the link for part 2 —> Here

 

#tbt Jamaica Post July 19, 2018

On June 20th, I landed in Kingston Jamaica.  I meant to write about it a long time ago but never did.  Think of this as a #tbt post.  🙂

Of course, when I got back everyone asked how the trip was.  That’s tough to answer because I was there to support Shaunie at her Grandfathers funeral and to see my ailing Aunt.

I love going there though – No matter the reason.  At this point, I have lived in the US longer than I lived there but it will never not be home.

It’s the place where my Aunts car got brazenly stolen out of her driveway and it ended up taking about two months just for her to get the police report – so I had to ask a friend to come pick me up from the airport.

It’s the place where the friend was late to pick me up.  Even though I had told him an earlier time than I really needed because I knew he’d be late.  I say that with so much love.

 

But it’s also the place where the fruit is the juiciest and you can always find someone willing to help you if you just ask.

My pictures show me posed up at the brand new (and the only) Starbucks on the island; yummy frappuccino in hand.  They show me grinning next to long-time friends while the sun shines down on us, sipping on blended drinks beside a pool and leaned up against a coconut tree surrounded by gorgeous flowers.  There is even video of us enjoying a ride on a floaty device being pulled by a speed boat.

 

In the beautiful hills of St Ann, as a family, we went for walks and ate fish and cleaned ackee and argued over who ate the last of the mangoes – and worked hard getting the hall ready for the hundreds of people who would show up for the memorial service.

It was a long, but lovely service and it was abundantly clear just how loved Mr N was and how much he’d be missed.  In the front section that was marked off just for family, there were about 80 of us, representing 5 generations, from all over the world, and all wearing royal blue.

The following day we all went to the beach – to exhale.

Sun and sand and the ocean and boat rides and dolphin shows and drinks and the laughter of children are healing.

 

 

It’s unfortunate that it takes things like funerals to bring people together.  It was wonderful that we could all get together.

I hated to see my Aunty like that.  She looked so delicate.  Every time she got up to walk it gave me anxiety because I was so worried that she’d fall and hurt herself.  Again.

Any time with her is incredibly precious and it brings us both so much joy and comfort.  As hard as it was to leave, I was happier that I had seen her at all and filled her in on all our adventures and gone shopping with her and hugged her and laughed with her and scolded her for trying to do too much and enjoyed world cup matches with her and prayed with her.

 

I don’t know when I’ll go to Jamaica again.  There are no plans in the works.  Both the boys passports have expired though and I know that the next time I go, I’d like them to go also.  The paperwork is all filled out and we’re gonna go renew the passports this weekend – so they’ll be ready.

Plus, the in-laws are moving to the Virgin Islands so I’m sure we’ll want to go there soon.

The very next trip we take will be an actual vacation.  I can’t wait.  The boys are going to spend 2 1/2 weeks in Florida with my Mom and Shaunie and I are going on a cruise and then right to the Dominican Republic for a friends wedding.  So exciting!  It will be a nice respite from all the other craziness happening around us.  Stuff with this damn government and stuff with Jay and stuff with loved ones.  Nope.  Not gonna go there.  Let’s go back to thinking about my upcoming vacay.  Yup.  Much nicer.

Talk to you soon.

 

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!

 

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).