Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Eighteen Years

Eighteen years ago tonight, my husband, my sister and I got in the car and left our little one bedroom apartment and headed to Cedars-Sinai Hospital in LA so that I could be induced to give birth.  We were excited, nervous, and even though I thought I was ready, there was no way to be ready for a moment that would completely change my life, would change and deepen my relationship with my husband, and would change me fundamentally, at a cellular level.  

I was an older first time mom (39), so we had all the requisite tests to make sure that our baby would be healthy.  The amnio was perfect, even though I remember how uncomfortable I was, having to wait an extra hour because there was a celebrity emergency (Los Angeles is full of them). The imaging showed a baby with gigantic eyes, and I remember thinking “an impertinent chin”.  I had to be put on bed rest the last ten days due to high blood pressure.  Other than that, I loved being pregnant, and was so excited to be a mom.  I had a fantastic Ob-Gyn, Dr. Hoffstadter, a laid-back, whipsmart and hysterical, fearsome warrior for her patients; and although I had only met her once, a terrific pediatrician as well.  Lovely Dr. Biederman was the steady, gentle perfect pediatrician first time parents dream about.  When I think about the amount of chance that went into selecting these two remarkable women, I feel certain that I do indeed have lucky stars, because I have thanked them so much over the years for that auspicious start to our life as a family.  That particular Tuesday night, I took a shower and got ready.  It would be the last time I would be able to dry my hair for about a year.  We drove down palm tree lined boulevards in the LA night, I got checked in, hooked up, dialed in, and as the oxytocin started to drip, I began to feel mild contractions.  Charley came in to our room and I told him to get some sleep, and thought I’d get some myself.  This was uncomfortable, but nothing I couldn’t handle.  

Then my water broke.  

Then I started to moo like a cow.  

I knew that I wasn’t going to do this without an epidural, and I had never even pretended that it would be a possibility, so I begged, and a sweet young resident did his best.  I thought that I just had a really low threshold for pain, but it turns out the epidural didn’t hit the right spot, so after another couple hours, the head of anesthesiology came in and did it correctly.

Then I asked him to marry me.

He had no sense of humor, so he didn’t bother giving me an answer.  

I labored several more hours, when I began to run a fever.  My darling, big headed baby had gotten stuck and wasn’t going anywhere.  Dr. Hoffstadter sat at the edge of my bed and said very simply to my husband and I, “One hundred years ago, this might have killed mom and baby, but now it doesn’t.  We’re gonna have to do a c-section”.  I was wheeled into the operating room, and Charley got to put on some fetching scrubs.  I was alone in the room with the anesthesiologist, then another doctor came in and I was convinced he was just giving me a massage, but he had begun the incision.  Pretty soon the party was in full swing - this part is all kind of blurry, but I was awake to meet my gorgeous boy, and Charley carried him over to me so I could see him.  There was quite a rush immediately after, and as I was sewn back up, the doctors and nurses had all gone into high gear, because when they pulled my sweet boy out, there was something different about him.  He had two big fingers on his right hand, and his left leg was bigger than the right.  It would become clear as his body adjusted to living outside my body, that he also had a red birthmark that ran from his left hip to his toes.  His feet were also quite a bit bigger.  But Charley and I didn’t know any of that. We just knew that he was here, and he was beautiful, and he was ours.  There is a picture of my husband holding him up to the window outside the delivery room to show him to the family.  The look on my husband’s face shows a man forever changed.  He was a father now, and so in love.

The next several hours, I was in recovery on my own, shivering in a way I never had in my life.  I was covered in a million hot blankets, and the doctor who had done my incision came and talked to me.  His name was Dr. Bossy, and he was anything but.  He was so kind and asked me all kinds of questions and tried to keep my mind off the fact that it had been hours and no one was coming to see me in recovery.  What I couldn’t know, was that they were all trying to figure out what was “wrong” with our baby.  I put that in quotation marks, because I have never, not for one moment, thought there was anything wrong with my son.  He was born different, but not wrong.  Still, no one wanted to tell me, because they didn’t want my already elevated blood pressure to get out of control.  I don’t remember who eventually came to see me, but thinking back now, even all these years later, my heart breaks that my husband and our family had to take this news that our son had medical challenges without me.  That evening, I got to hold my sweet baby and cuddle him a bit before he was taken to the NICU.  The incredible Dr. Hoffstadter, again sat at the edge of my bed, and explained that they needed to do some imaging of our tiny love to make sure that he could handle food.  They wanted to make sure that the vascular birthmark that he had on his leg was not something more complex involving his organs.  This was not going the way I thought it was going to go, to say the least, but it was the first moment that I experienced true motherhood.  For the first time in my life, I worried.  More than worried.  I began to panic.  This wasn’t good for me, due to my high blood pressure, so I was given high doses of magnesium and put in a cold room.  My darling, caring, incredible husband spent the night with me in that room, and it must have been cold because my guy was shivering.  He LOVES the cold, but this was like being in the arctic without a sleeping bag, yet he never left my side.  

The next days were a blur of doctors, for both Joe-Henry and I, meetings, doctors in meetings, meetings with doctors, meetings with doctors about more meetings with doctors, and after several days of not being able to feed my baby, I finally came unglued.  Joe-Henry, born on a Wednesday, still hadn’t been allowed to be breastfed by Saturday.  He had been on I.V. while his test kept being pushed back by one emergency after another, and while it was finally done on late afternoon Friday, there was no one to read the results over the weekend.  Dr. Hoffstadter (who at this point in the story should really be wearing a superhero cape), doing rounds on her day off on the weekend, came to visit and called in a radiologist from the phone in my room to come read my baby’s test results, saying “look, this mom is my patient, and she is going to have a stroke, and it’s gonna be on your head.”  Someone was there within the hour.  I spent that afternoon, holding and feeding my sweet boy, looking into those trusting eyes, finally getting to bond with this sweet soul.  It took a few more days, but the day before Thanksgiving we were told we could take him home, I ran down the hallway, holding my c-section together, to tell Charley who had gone to get us one more fantastic hospital meal.  I will never forget the ride home and how utterly terrified I was to step outside those hospital walls and be completely responsible for keeping this little bundle alive.  I sat on the edge of the couch, with Joe-Henry in his car seat at the other end of the couch and looked at him.  Wordlessly, Charley brought me a small glass of Guinness.  “I hear it’s good for helping your milk to come in.”  Whether that’s true or not, it helped me relax for a moment, and know that my husband was taking care of me.  I took a few sips, pulled that sweet bundle out of the car seat, took a deep breath, closed my eyes and began to trust myself as a mother.  Granted, that first month my brand new copy of “What To Expect The First Year” became dog-eared and would automatically fall open to chapters I remember being titled “WHY WON’T MY BABY SLEEP?!” and “WHY YOU ARE TOO INEPT TO SOOTHE YOUR OWN BABY”,  but we got into a rhythm. And when at two months, Joe-Henry rewarded me with his first laugh?  I put the book in the closet.  

The intervening eighteen years have been a variation on that first week, spread out like an intricate quilt, with each square being it’s own memory, but instead of being filled with downy feathers, it’s filled with worry defying hope - heavy, but with a warmth of its own.  We have had our share of scares, but we have also had the good fortune to have some truly amazing doctors on our side.  In addition to Dr. Hoffstadter and Dr. Biederman, we’ve had doctors who are like family, wanting to know where he is applying to school, who he is dating, where they might catch his next gig with his band.  We’ve had family and friends who have loved and supported us through every joy and every illness, who have let me cry, vent and talk through the worries until I am all talked out, who have heard all the ways around a diagnosis and treatment, and have let me worry it from every angle.  We’ve had the connection of the K-T community, a place we can go to ask others with the same syndrome about their experiences, a place to be real about our fears and share hope about our triumphs.  I can never get over my luck in terms of all that.  

Through all of this, though, is our wonder, and our great good fortune:  our boy.   In addition to loving this son of ours, his dad and I have had the pleasure of watching his evolution from babyhood to toddlerhood to child to teen to young man.  I can say without bias that he is one of the coolest guys I have ever met, or even imagined.  He has had to deal with an awful lot in his life, but he handles it all with absolute grace, and a double scoop of wicked humor. He has set big dreams for himself and has pushed himself to achieve and try things that we weren’t sure would be possible.  He has had to work harder than most his age to stay healthy, and I am so proud of the way he takes care of himself.  He never takes anything for granted.  He has surpassed every wish, every hope, I could have dreamed of.  There have been COUNTLESS laughs, the kind that make it hard to breathe or see because of the tears.  The best kinds of laughter.  There have been far more joys than worries, but even so, there were so many times that my worry overtook me, however, it all went away when the fever passed, or the pain went away, or the cough subsided.  We would read Shel Silverstein poetry and talk about anything and everything….All that was left was reveling in his smile, his eyes, his soft cheeks and the smell of his hair.   Just the two of us, curled up on his bed, late in the quiet of the night.  Those nights might be my reason for being.

I am preparing myself for this new phase of motherhood - the great letting go.  I see my friends do it, I know it’s inevitable.  It’s like that point in a pregnancy when it dawns on you that the baby has to come out.  I know it will be filled with it’s own joys and worries.  That saying that parenthood is like having your heart walking around outside your body… that.  Only hundreds of miles away.  Will he call?  Will he be safe?  Will he be happy?  Will he change his mind about aviation and go into music instead?  Will he remember to, will he ever, will he learn, will he… 

Will I ever unlearn how to worry?  Nope.  I’ve been a mom for eighteen years.  I’ve perfected it.  I know myself enough to know that it’s never going away.  But I look forward to adding more squares to the quilt, and wrapping it all around us whenever the worry gets to be too much.  

Friday, October 19, 2018

2018 - A Year To Grieve

Some years are full of hope and possibility, some just bump along, status quo, and some years just arrive and knock the wind out of you, continuously, like you accidentally walked into the ring with a punch-drunk prize fighter that has no pity.  I don't know if it's to remind us of life's impermanence, or to make us take stock, or just because statistically it has to happen some time.  Probably the latter, but it still feels no less cruel.

When I was a girl, our family had a year like that.  We lost both my mom and my cousin within months of one another, my dad wound up in the hospital with blood clots and soon after lost a job he'd had for years.  I felt it, of course, all of it, but kids are resilient.  Therapy came later.  It helped, but that year still formed me.  It's one of the reasons I am grateful to work with kids who have trauma.  Not to work out my own stuff, but because I have a certain perspective about it.

This year began with the sudden loss of our nephew in a car accident, and it wracked our family.  It was like a bomb went off.  We are still reeling - grief comes on in waves, and while at times it's less acute, it is no less heartbreaking.  The permanence of it, the marks it has left on our hearts still feels so tender, like we are healing from something completely physical, like someone tore a limb off and put it back on wrong.  Everything feels like we are stepping carefully through a world that we don't recognize.  Even though grief is not unfamiliar to me, it seems the older I get, the less resilient I am to it's randomness.  Sadly, this week delivered another blow.  My dear friend and neighbor collapsed on Monday, leaving her husband, her family and all who knew her bereft.  That's not a word I use often or lightly, but it's the only one that feels right.

I met Angela after they moved in up the street - she and her husband showed up on our doorstep shortly before Christmas with a holiday mug filled with mix for a chocolate lava cake.  I am not the kind of person to just let anyone in my house, mostly because it's usually a mess, so believe me when I say there is no one else on earth that I would allow into my house without knowing them, but Angela could charm her way into anything.  And, hello, she had chocolate!  She was from Louisiana, and while she had the wit and vivaciousness of a Southern Belle, she didn't have an ounce of pretense.  A few years passed and we would see each other on the street and wave hello, but eventually, in 2011, our family got a dog and I began walking her every morning.  Angela asked if I would ever like some company, and the rest is history.  I soon lost that dog, got another, a terrier named Maisy, and two weeks after we got our new pooch, Angela and Don got their dog Marnie.  Then, Angela decided it would be a good idea if we started running in the morning.  Believe me when I tell you - the ONLY person who could EVER get me to run. in. the. morning.... is Angela.  I say run, but what I mean is, I followed her bobbing ponytail from a distance, wondering if each day would be my last.  I hated running.  Until I didn't.  And that was because of Angela.  She wasn't just my cheerleader, she drove me nuts with her positive attitude until I could have one myself.  

Those mornings were the best.  We told each other everything.  There was no such thing as TMI with Angela and I.  I know that I am not the only one who feels this way - Angela was a fantastic friend to so many people.  She and her husband Don were social butterflies, and had a slew of good friends that they socialized with.  I heard about all of them, in detail.  She was meticulous in the way she cared for others, and she always made you feel important.  Her parents told me that she never met a stranger, and I witnessed it.  There were times when we would be out walking and she would strike up a conversation with anyone, much to my chagrin.  My sense of caution, though, was always outweighed by her ability to connect with people.  As a friend, she was a brilliant listener, but she also felt free to tell you when you were full of it, and although it didn't happen often with us, when it did, I took it to heart.  She was wise counsel.  

In 2014, our daily runs were abruptly brought to a halt.  At nearly the same time, Angela wound up in the hospital with a burst appendix, and I developed debilitating migraines brought on by exertion.  During her diagnosis for her appendix, they discovered that she had a spot on her imaging that didn't look right.  It turned out to be a recurrence of a melanoma that she had many years earlier.  My headaches turned out to be something called Fibromuscular Displaysia.  Even with all of this news, though, we continued to walk when we could.  It wasn't as regular, but we still got out there with our dogs, and we always held out hope that we could make it a ritual again.  We knew it would be different, but we both felt sure that it would happen.  We walked a bit slower, and we took breaks, but that just gave us more time to talk.  She made progress with her drug regimen, and for quite a while things looked very promising.  She was a force of nature and it just never seemed possible that we wouldn't be back at it at some point, just by sheer force of will.  

It just wasn't to be.  Things took a turn this past summer, when her scans showed the cancer turning up again.  She was getting ready for chemo, when she had a horrible reaction to one of her non-cancer fighting drugs.  It knocked her down and took a toll, but again, she fought like the champion that she was.  At that point, I had begun walking her dog with mine in the morning, letting myself in with my key.  Her parents had come to stay with she and her husband to care for her while she recovered, and to help her when she started chemo.  She had her first round last Saturday, and on Tuesday morning, she collapsed at home.  That morning, I had let myself in with my key, and just taken them around the block when I came back to find her husband waiting for me in the driveway.  They had just gotten home from the hospital.  We hugged and cried in the street as the sun was rising.  I can't fathom (or I worse, I can)  the loss her family feels.  

I have been walking through this all in a daze.  My family has been amazing, and it has meant so much to be able to just walk up the street and hug her family.  I am trying to stay in the present, though, because it's hard to picture the future without my friend, without our nephew, and knowing that loss is inevitable and will keep delivering to my doorstep.  My tether to this world is to just keep walking, to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and to keep hugging the people I love. 

I leave you with this, from my favorite Chekhov play, Uncle Vanya:

"What can we do? We must live our lives. [A pause] Yes, we shall live, Uncle Vanya. We shall live through the long procession of days before us, and through the long evenings; we shall patiently bear the trials that fate imposes on us; we shall work for others without rest, both now and when we are old; and when our last hour comes we shall meet it humbly, and there, beyond the grave, we shall say that we have suffered and wept, that our life was bitter, and God will have pity on us. Ah, then dear, dear Uncle, we shall see that bright and beautiful life; we shall rejoice and look back upon our sorrow here; a tender smile—and—we shall rest. I have faith, Uncle, fervent, passionate faith. [SONIA kneels down before her uncle and lays her head on his hands. She speaks in a weary voice] We shall rest. [TELEGIN plays softly on the guitar] We shall rest. We shall hear the angels. We shall see heaven shining like a jewel. We shall see all evil and all our pain sink away in the great compassion that shall enfold the world. Our life will be as peaceful and tender and sweet as a caress. I have faith; I have faith. [She wipes away her tears] "

She wipes away her tears.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

What Now?

Hey Girl!  What's going on?

Not much, just watching the disintegration of a once-great nation!

I think I'll distract myself by digging rocks out of the dirt, look at Pinteresting ways to organize my shed and get lime stains out of my toilet, install laminate floors and come up with a new hairstyle:

Should I dye it?*

New cut?

Shave it off?

Dye it with Kool-aid, cut it with nail scissors, THEN shave it?

Get a tattoo on my now bald head that says "since my uterus is old, just take my brains instead?"

My eye is twitching.  I think that means I want to line up this entire administration and hit them all on the heads with a cast iron frying pan.

This sour feeling is not going away any time soon - it is the feeling of pure hatred for this vile administration, and I know, it is not doing me or anyone else any good, it is pointless and harmful to myself and those I truly love and care about, so I spend my whole day doing some random order of these things - household chores, cranking music, spending time on-line (DON'T DO THIS) and telling myself to get in GOOD TROUBLE.  I saw a tweet today by Erin Keen (@eekshecried)and it summed it up:  "Every woman I know has been storing anger for years in her body and it's starting to feel like bees are going to pour out of all of our mouths at the same time".  

Drinking seems to be the absolute worst thing to do.  Physical work - where I sweat and can lose myself - is the only answer.  I feel like I could lift a car**.

*for real? Initially I loved my salt and pepper hair, but now I feel a thousand years old
**I couldn't.  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

How To Cheer Yourself In the End Days of The Republic

I have spent the last few days despairing the actions being taken in America's name to immigrant children and their families.  I have heard the cries, seen the faces, and watched the heartless lies being spewed by our heinous administration.  

Also in the news today, the administration wants to lump together the Departments of Education and Labor, destroying them both, and they want to cut billions from Medicare and Medicaid.  There is a White Nationalist Rally being held in DC.  On top of this, the First Lady visited one of the shelters wearing a jacket that said "I don't care, do u?"  

I spent a good hour reading about the demise of Mussolini, Hitler, Eva Braun and Marie Antoinette.  I imagined the fence in front of the White House bedecked with the heads of everyone in this evil administration.  I imagined a Secret Service agent going rogue and taking them all out and having Kiefer Sutherland take over.  I imagined them all with giant herpes sores on their mouths.  I started to go down a really, really dark hole and didn't recognize myself.

A friend on FB posted that she was feeling much the same way, and the only thing that outweighed the negative was the community of love warriors she knows have her back.  It reminded me of 1 Corinthians 13:13,

 "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."

I am trying to have faith.  Not necessarily Christian faith, but faith in humanity, but it's pretty difficult these days.  Hope seems like a distant memory.  But love.... love I can do.  It's a verb. 

I told my son how I was feeling.  "Just look at what's in front of you mom.  Be kind, set a good example. Go out of your way to make it better for others."  

I love this boy with my whole heart.  

The greatest of these is love.

Gonna keep my eyes on that.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Crying In The Car

I read a blogpost by my friend Linnea over at A Mindful Life LA about befriending negative emotions.  She talked about missing her oldest daughter, and crying in the car.  I wanted to hug her, and pat her on her sweet cheeks.  I kept telling myself though, that I would not let myself relate yet.  I wasn't ready to grieve my growing boy flying the nest yet.  He's still at home.  He still has senior year.  There's just too much to do to get him ready.

There's too much to do to get ME ready.

So I pretended I wasn't there yet.  I am not in the thick of it yet. Because I am made of stone, dammit.

Seriously, though, I used to be someone who cried at every sappy commercial.  I was pretty in touch with all those emotions, and enjoyed getting a little damp in the eyeballs, rolling around in that feeling.  It made me feel alive and connected to the world.

But things got really busy, and really real and life has gotten stressful.  Aging, man. I never thought I'd be THIS much of a grown up.  Where I sweat the small stuff.  But I sweat not only MY small stuff, but everyone else's small stuff AND all the big stuff.  I am SUPER sweaty. And some days I feel about a hundred and twenty years old.

Well, today the dam broke.  My husband and I were in the car, running errands.  We were talking in that distracted, disconnected way that you can when you've been married a long time and no longer have any hormones that force you to notice and delight in each other's every word.  We were heading home, and he had put his music on, and said casually when this song came on, "this really reminds me of the boy.  'fly and don't come down?', 'make thunder when you run'... I mean how he runs?!  with those beautiful feet of his...."

I'd heard this song before, and I knew it made me teary, but I kinda forgot.  I was listening and singing along with him one second, and then next thing I knew I started howling like a banshee... Weeping, singing, laughing.....

It made me realize how much I needed to feel.  How much I needed to release and to stop trying to distract myself from those feelings.

I am pretty glad though, that a) I wasn't driving, and b) that the boy wasn't in the car with us.

He's past the eye-rolling stage, for the most part, but I think it might have freaked him out a bit.

Anyway, here are the lyrics.  Kris Drever is a damn genius with a sad, real song.  And my husband is a damn genius for knowing exactly how to pick the locks on my cold, cold heart.

When The Shouting Is Over

Turn like a wheel
into the road into the next town
Take a drink, but buy your meal
out at the point we wait for tight lines.
Build a wall and make it high.
Don't deny your hungry brothers.
If you dig a well, make it deep
and if it spoils, then dig another.
Remember our faces every day
that you roam.*

When the race is run
and the shouting is all over
come on home **

Plow through the fields
push through the crowds, beg and steal
walk through walls, fill empty halls
stand where the magic meets the real***
fly and don't come down****
unless there's no one there to stop you
Make thunder when you run*****
know there's no one who can top you.
If you're tired
if you're down
We will never drop you**********

Chorus X2

*this is when my throat got really tight
**this made me groan and keen and say OHHHH a bit
***with this line I could picture him standing on the brink of his life, ready to fly, and I could no longer see out of my projectile crying eyeballs
****HELLO he wants to be a pilot and this line made me gasp for air and sob doubled over my seatbelt getting my knees wet with my snot
********full on ugly crying, scaring the other car next to us in traffic because they thought maybe I was crazy and might open my car door on the freeway and roll under the semi behind us.

Sunday, May 20, 2018


Today began with a royal wedding, and got better from there.

Waking up in Trump's America every day is soul wearying, and I frequently wake in a panic, but this morning I woke up and saw a mixed race woman marry her prince in a cathedral while a black choir sang Stand By Me, and I think they put a spell on the whole day, because it just kept getting better.

I got back to sleep for one thing.  And when I woke up, I got to take my boy to Alaska Airline Aviation Day, and he got to talk to pilots and go in planes and get information from schools with pilot programs, and we took pictures and ate hot dogs and it was just swell.  I am in constant awe of his aviation knowledge.  Like music, flying comes second nature to him.  He is fluent in it, and to see him in his element brings me more than pride, it's pure joy.

Then tonight all three of us went to see Paul Simon in his Homeward Bound Farewell Tour, and it was like going to church.  When we got there, JH said "I don't want to generalize, but I MIGHT be the youngest person here".  Getting our bags checked, the man at security who was in his 60's said "Young man, do you even know who Paul Simon IS?"  "HECK yeah!  I've listened to his music all my life!"  "Good job, mom and dad!"  Then we ran into one of JH's old baseball coaches, who was genuinely so happy to see JH, as well as one of JH's doctors who is on my list of all time most important people in JH's health journey.  She was out with her husband and I almost didn't recognize her without her lab coat!  But it was so much fun to see her out of context, and I thought of her later when he was playing The Boy In The Bubble, and heard "medicine is magical and magical is art".  These are the days of miracle and wonder. Music does something to me.  I feel like I get plugged in to a universal energy and I am one with everything.  It was also like being in a time tunnel and all of the ages that I have been when touched by his music came rushing at me and surrounding me and holding me still in music's magical magnetic field.  I was in my early twenties listening to Graceland on my walkman, walking the hills of Queen Anne in Seattle, hanging out with my roommates; I was in my teens having been through my first heartbreak, riding in the backseat of my sister's car on the way to get a Christmas tree, crying while listening to Still Crazy After All These Years; I was nine years old, in the backseat of a car in San Francisco on a trip with that same sister, listening to Feelin' Groovy (which he played last night to punish himself for forgetting some lyrics to Cool Cool River because apparently he HATES Feelin' Groovy!); I was in my early forties, my toddler singing the wrong lyrics to Loves Me Like A Rock while sitting on my lap ("she loves me like a rock a pages"); and I was 56, right now, sitting next to my son and my husband, feeling all the grief of Mother and Child Reunion (Oh I would not give you false hope...), as well as this magic moment:  Before the concert, I told my guys about the "Still Crazy" story, about crying my eyes out in the back seat of the car.  When he played the first notes, my son, put his arm around me, pulled me in tight and kissed my forehead.  That moment is sealed forever in my memory, in that endorphin-infused place where happiness lives.  He was so giddy all night, and it was so much fun to be next to him and witness the way he soaks up music, how it moves him, how he knows those complex rhythms innately, and to reach around and touch my husband's shoulder and know that somehow we brought this magical energy into the world. We aren't perfect parents by any stretch, we fuck up a million different ways, but we keep trying.


Help me, help me, help me, THANK YOU.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The First Last

Well, hello old friend!  It's been awhile!  The last time I was here was four years ago, JH was thirteen, and gangly and goofy and flighty.  He hadn't shaved yet, hadn't driven a car, and homework didn't keep him up nearly as late.  Now he drives, has a job, goes to school, is a drummer in a band, and for the love of all things holy take flight lessons.  We are getting ready to go on some college trips this summer.  When I started at my job, he was six.  Now,  I still work with elementary aged kids, and while I can remember him being at that stage, it was a long time ago.  I'm grateful for this blog because he was precious to me and I wrote about allllll of it.  When he became a teen, (and even before, going through puberty) I slowed way down on the blog because I wanted to make sure that I was not divulging too much private stuff.  I realized I was skating close to an edge - I didn't want to exploit our relationship, and I didn't want to write about anything that might embarrass him.  I also wanted to keep it for myself.  To hang on to it, and keep it precious to me.

So why the hell start up again?  Here's my reason - I have been having huge anxiety about him graduating from high school and going to college.  This in addition to living in Trump's America has begun to give me heart palpitations, and I'm realizing that maybe it's time to write about that, and one more thing....

I went back and read some of my old posts, and realized how much gratitude I had for all of it, how much beauty I saw and celebrated, and honestly I want to focus on that again.  This part of my life is very different.  I am very different.  I am older, not "mature" older, but OLDER older.  Heavier, greyer, busier... but also wiser, and I see myself fairly clearly.  Skin tags and all.  I have a lot of faults.  I will always try to be better, but I don't have any misconceptions that I will actually BE better.  But it's all in the trying.  Maybe by writing about it, by saying it out loud, it will ease my anxious mama heart and help me actually lift my face to the sun, instead of crab walking sideways, pinched and worried, through this stage of life.

At work we talk about "growth mindset" and one of the things we talk about a LOT is there is no "I can't".  Still, one of the things I struggle with the most is letting go.  Letting go.  It is the one thing in my life that comes close to "I can't".  It is so, so, so much harder than I ever imagined.

Before I conceived of conceiving, I naively thought that I would be a cool mom.  I would be in the arts, I would have my own life, I would be a pal, all of my child's friends would think I was the coolest.  Now I am fairly certain that all his friends think that the only thing separating me from being a helicopter parent is the lack of a rotor on my head.  When JH was about five, we went to Paris.  We were taking the Metro, and he was looking for the oncoming train and he stepped over that white line, the one that basically tells people STOP OR YOU MIGHT DIE.  He was talking to his dad, and I reached out and grabbed him with my hand, but it wasn't my hand that felt it - it was my womb.  It was like it dropped out between my legs, flopped around on the ground until it found him, sucked him back across that line and then hopped back up inside me.  I am going through a version of this now, not as visceral, but every bit as aching and emotional and vulnerable and out of fucking control.  Every time he heads out the door, I say "drive safe!" but my brain says "I am not going to let you relax until he is back through the door".  Now, just imagine that feeling, and add FLYING to the mix.  As in, HE is flying.  An airplane.  Yes, it's the absolute coolest, and after, hearing him talk about it (he is frighteningly knowledgeable) delights me from head to toe, but when he heads out for a lesson?  I want to throw myself around his ankles and not let go. "Dude, why are you dragging your mom around the tarmac for flight check?" "Sorry.  She just can't let go.  You'll get used to it.  I have.  Her sobbing has gotten a lot quieter."

So that's why I'm writing.  Because I CAN'T throw myself around his ankles.  I HAVE to let go.  And I have to find some of myself without him - to allow myself my mama pride, but also to find some of that badass chick I used to be before him.

Yeah, right.

"Hey, badass chick!  Why is your heart and your uterus flopping around on the ground like that?"

Thanks for reading while I shout out into the void.