Archive for the ‘kids’ Category

of graduates and emptier nests

I now have two…count ’em…one, TWO…daughters who have graduated high school. The remaining daughter (my baby) will be a sophomore in September and that means I am blessed to stave off a completely empty nest for three more years.

I count that as a blessing because my daughters are exceptional. I know this because I am not the only person who says that. My daughters are intelligent, well spoken, articulate – nodding to Susie ūüėČ – caring, compassionate, funny and loving young women. I told my two youngest daughters a few days ago that I could live with them. As adults. Really. I enjoy their company. I know they need to find their ways however, if it came down to it, I really could. In reply they told me the same with one slight difference. They could not live with their step-father. My first thought was how much I totally get that.

Enough about my daughters, this is about me. It’s ALL about me. Heh.

As I watched my second child perform on the theater stage and then walk across that same stage a bit later to receive her diploma, I was in awe of her. A friend who was there leaned over and said “OMG, it’s like looking at YOU up there!” Yes, my daughters do look like me. It is odd sometimes. I am in awe of this girl who was the answer to a prayer. She was the beautiful gift at the end of 13 months of fertility issues and treatment. Now as she enters what she refers to as “pretend adulthood”, I wonder what I will do. Yes, I have one more daughter in school. Yes, she was also the answer to a prayer. A gift at the end of months of fertility issues. I wasn’t completely sure I wanted her until I saw her being born. The minute our eyes met I knew it was meant to be. I thought “There you are!” and my heart was hers. It will be three more years before I write of her graduation and yet, I know it’s coming.

My introspection is ongoing. I wonder why alot. I am trying to focus on the what of it all right now. What do I want? What do I have to do to make whatever that turns out to be happen. A therapist I once had told me that I was all about mothering and he wondered what I would do when that mothering was no longer my main occupation. I told him I had plans for when my children were grown. I did. Have plans. Now, I’m not so sure what I want to do next. Plans change. Interests change. Life changes.

I am 42 years old and I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up.

So, what do I do to figure that out? I want to go to school. I don’t what for. I don’t even know that I can afford to go. I just know I want to. There was a time when I wanted to deliver babies. I was going to finish nursing school and apply to midwifery school. We have a great school in this neck of the woods. Now, I’m older and I have no desire to have my life run by the likes of a newborn. Heehee… I do have an interest in nursing and all things medical but do I want to do that forever? I’d definitely have a good paying job when I was finished with school.

I have an affinity for children. I totally “get” them. My heart hurts for those children who have no one to care for them, or advocate for them, or listen to them. I have a friend who is building a center for hospice care and counseling of families that is a bit different than any other place in our area. The thought of working there fills me with something I can’t quite describe. There are so many things that interest me. I’m good at alot of them. Is it weird to say that? It feels weird to acknowledge that. I just feel like there is so much more to my life that I haven’t figured out yet.

I wrote awhile ago of not living like my mother. Those weren’t just words to me. I meant them. With every single fiber of my being. I do not want to sit in my chair in front of my big screen t.v. and wait for life to happen to me. Although…that chair is so comforting. While I sit there, I don’t have to think, or feel, or worry, or plan, or figure out anything. I can simply…be. I want to throw out my chair. I want to get rid of the furniture so I can no longer sit on my ass while the world goes by. I want to write and sing and travel and feel…and yet, feeling is so foreign to me.

I watch as people are angry, sad, happy, excited, funny, whatever and I think “What does that feel like? What is it like to feel something and not shut it down or off?” How do people figure out what fills them? How do they know when they are doing something they love? Or even like? I did figure out today that I hate my job. Actually, that’s not true. I don’t hate my job. I just hate that I am still doing it here. With this woman who has one of the most difficult reputations in the place I work. If I can work with her, I can work with anyone. I know this. The job fiasco that is occurring at my place of employment is unsettling and at the same time, freeing. I will have a job. The where is the question apparently. I’m scared. It’s unknown. But I’m ready to get on with it already. I just want to do it and move on. It’s time.

What to do. I haven’t a clue. I don’t even really know how to figure out the “What”. It seems odd to me that I don’t. No wonder my newly graduated from high school daughter said “I don’t know what to do now. I don’t know what I want to do.” I keep telling her she’ll figure it out. I hope I’m right. For both our sakes.

$$$

So my daughter is on Spring Break from college this week. She decided she wanted to take a trip to Vegas. Of all the people she knows, she decided she wanted to go to Vegas with her mommy! How weird and cool is that all at the same time? So here we are in freaking Las Vegas. It’s late, I’m tired, I’m worrying…as I am wont to do. What am I worrying about tonight, er, check that, it’s now very early in the morning…? I am worrying about money! Dammit. I’m here in Vegas on my daughter’s dime so that’s not the worry. The worry is money at home. The man of the house calls me and says he got turned down for a loan he applied for because his income to debt ratio is too high. I bet he’s never even heard of that before! We do not share finances. We never have. We never will I’m sure. It’s created ‘issues’ for us, ok, for me, for our entire marriage. But the fact remains, his finances are not my finances. Weird that but there ya go. Before we married, he had a business on the side along with his regular job. Since we married, he’s let that business go. Why you ask? I have no freaking idea. BUT, the kicker comes in that he now blames me for his lack of money. WTF??? I am raising three (ok, now it’s two officially but still) daughters. Alone. On my salary that is half what the man of the house’s is. I always need money. I am getting no child support because the guy who donated the sperm that helped make these 3 children is once again jobless. Do I need money? Hell Yes! My finances suck. I suck at figuring them out. Do I ask him for help? No I do not. Why? Because he is not helpful in this area. It doesn’t qualify as help to tell someone “I can do the math, I assume you can too.” I spend alot of time overdrawn. I’m lucky to have a financial institution that allows that but it’s a spendy proposition. I could use a second job. One problem with this idea is that I have some uh, let’s say ‘health’ issues and leave it at that. I have no problem with working. I am proud that I can do it. I just don’t know what the answers are to my issues right now. So much goes into it and surrounds it and it’s alot of emotional crap too I’m sure. So, I’m putting this out into the universe tonight and simply saying it outloud. I need some financial assistance or a financial windfall or something to help me take care of my girls and my responsibilities. I feel like a failure because I can’t seem to deal with it all. I could blame alot of things or people or whatever but I don’t work that way. I may not be responsible for what happened to me during my childhood and first marriage but I am certainly responsible for what happens to me now. And also to my children. I just don’t know what else to do. I am stumped. And to be truthful, I’m so tired. Tired of worrying alone and figuring and refiguring alone. It’s a lonely thing and I’m tired of being lonely. So, there it is. My most major failing, worry, problem, whatever you wanna call it. Out there for the world to see. Now, I’m going to bed. I am here in Vegas with my daughter and I’m going to try to have some fun. I’m still gobsmacked that my kid wanted to take her first grown up vacation with her mommy and she’s paying for it all too. Holy…

*18*

“I haven’t given you any trouble for my entire life. When my sisters were on the floor, kicking and screaming, I was quiet. My dad made me his therapist and then vanished. People have been dying left and right and YES I’m angry. I’ll be angry probably forever. You analyze me and blow off my feelings and I can’t take it anymore!”

So said my 18 year old daughter last night during a, ummm, disagreement we were having. This heartfelt rant began when she came slamming into the house after school while yelling at her younger, 15 year old sister yesterday afternoon.

It seems her little sister had gotten on her last nerve with her “Oh, poor me” attitude about the latest cast list for the Spring Show and her place on said list. The little sister’s attitude about her role in the Spring Show has been annoying to say the least and last night I, too, let her have it however, I digress. This post is about the 18 year old and my feelings about our discussion last night.

For those just tuning in, I have three daughters. To say these daughters have been challenging would be like saying 40 hours of labor to pop out a nine-and-a-half pound baby is challenging. It’s an understatement ok? Work with me here…

I’m not exaggerating when I say that my daughters are extremely intelligent, extremely talented and extremely challenging. People often talk about the issues with raising children who have disabilities of some kind. What I’ve learned in my experience with these girls is that there really ought to be some talk about the issues involved with raising “gifted” children as well. I’m proud of my children most definitely. I love them with a ferocious, mother lion kind of love that continues to stun me in it’s intensity even now more than 21 years¬†after giving birth to that nine-and-a-half pound baby mentioned above.

All that said, I’m tired.

I’m tired of questioning everything I do, everything I say and everything I feel about raising and interacting with these young women. I am tired of having discussions I never would have dreamed of having with my mother with these young women. I am tired of doing the best I can do, learning the best I can learn, giving the best I can give and still not having a fucking clue if I am doing anything well enough.

world premiers and birthdays

We were gone this weekend. My husband and I traveled the 6+ hours needed to reach the small town my oldest daughter attends college in. Ugh. The drive is killer.

We went so we could be present for the world premier of a piece of music she wrote that won 3rd prize in a composition contest. It was fabulous. Midnight in the King’s Garden is a composition for eight trumpets and it was amazing.

Her birthday was this past weekend as well. She turned 21.

Let me say that again.

My. Daughter. Is. 21.

Oh. My. God.

Added to that, my girl is losing weight and I heard her say this while we were there: “I’m finally starting to feel like I’m pretty.”

It wasn’t even my birthday¬†and I felt like I¬†was given¬†the best present ever. This child of mine, who is no longer a child, has been my biggest worry.¬†I am embarrassed to say that this child has touched every single fear I have in my life and brought them to the surface in ways I couldn’t imagine before her birth.

I never wanted a kid to be made fun of like I was…or feel ugly like I did. This girl got both of those things in spades. I never wanted a kid with too much that didn’t blend in because I knew how traumatic it could be. This girl of mine functions somewhere at the high end of the autism spectrum and all I can say to that is…she was always noticeable. There is so much I could write but thinking about it brings tears and I simply cannot do it right now.

I want to focus on the lovely, amazing, confident woman she is becoming and how totally proud of her I am. For the first time since she was a very little girl, I can honestly say I truly enjoyed her company.

I need to say that again.

I. Enjoyed. My. Daughter’s. Company.

If you don’t know my daughter, there is no way in hell you can understand just how big that is. Trust me. It’s Big.

Happy Birthday Erica Rose. I love you.

lookie!

muralproject907cropped.jpg

This is part of a mural that my youngest daughter and¬†seven (I think!) other young people in our school district (of about 23000 students) worked on over the summer. My girlie is at the far right. This mural was a month long project and is permanently displayed on a building in our downtown area. Yea, I’m a proud mommy!

edit:¬† The students were chosen by district art teachers. A professional muralist worked with the kids on the design (which is way bigger than what is shown in this photo) and kept everyone on task. The students did the majority of the work however the muralist and my daughter’s elementary school art teacher put in a huge amount of elbow grease too!

lions and tigers and…bees???

Today my sweet, 14 year old daughter yelled in my face “Mom you are NOT listening to me! You may think you’re hearing me but YOU ARE NOT!” There was dead silence from both of us, as well as the two other non-involved people in the room. She had this look on her face that said *Uh oh…have I gone too far?*

After a few moments, I asked “Did that make you feel better to get that frustration out?” She cracked a wee smile and said “Yea, kinda” and then hugged me and apologized for yelling and we were able to chat about her completely phobic fear of bees in a much calmer manner…

Every year when spring and summer arrive in our little corner of the world, my youngest child tries with all her might to become a hermit. Why, when every other kid wants to be outside enjoying the weather, sports, water, hiking, camping, playing, does my child want to hide out in the house?

She is almost deathly afraid of bees.

She was stung once when she was 18 months old and now, all these years later, she is still terrified of them. There is no reasoning with her. There is no talking about it with her. There is no ‘come on honey, I’ll go with you’ with her. There is only “I can’t go out there…there are BEES out there!”

Today, at the end of my rope with this girl, I uttered the words I had just a few days ago told my husband never to utter to this child. “A, you are acting EXACTLY like E and I want you to stop it right now!” E being her oldest, extremely difficult sister who is most definitely not her favorite sibling.

This was what I have come to think of as an RFP (really f*ckedup parent-ing) moment.

I don’t like these moments. As a matter of fact, I’m betting I hate these moments even more than my children hate them. That said, what is one to do after an RFP moment has occurred. I don’t know what other RFP’s do but I stop. I breathe. And I tell my child “Gawd, that was not a good thing for me to do or say or whatever. I am so sorry. Let’s try this again.”

Sometimes it takes awhile for my older, thicker headed self to *get* it. Sometimes my daughters have to knock up against that older, thicker head a few times before I am able to pay attention; before I can finally fight my way out of that older, thicker head and listen to them without my own agenda, my own filters, messing up the translation.

They are miracles, my daughters. True. Real. Beautiful. Honest. Smart. Loud. Determined. Miracles. I am blessed to be able to look into their amazing blue eyes every day and watch them become the absolutely incredible young women they are becoming.

Today I was reminded that sometimes small things can be and often are HUGE things. I was reminded that if I can stop. For just a moment. And listen. I can remember that my job as a parent is not to convince my child that her fears are unreasonable and she simply needs to snap out of it already. I can remember that it is my job as her mom to help her learn to figure it out, to find a way to make her fear more manageable, to help her remember that she is powerful and strong and her fear does not change that.

hearts…minds…children

My blog friend, Heidi, has posted something that affected me so strongly yesterday when I read it. Since I’m still thinking of it today, I decided to mention it here.

As many of you know, I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I say that with mixed feelings because *raised* is not really a word that describes my experience for me. I don’t know what word works better though so for today it will do.

I continue to write my *story* however am not in a place to post it yet. Perhaps soon. In the meantime, for your reading plea…er…umm…yea, whatever…click here.