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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A NEW New Normal

Just about a year ago I wrote a blog called "A New Normal" where I talked about being blindsided by Claire's diagnosis with asthma.  And truly I was blindsided.  I felt like I won and lost and won again the title of "Mother of the Year" when the doctor told me she had asthma.  How could I, as her mother, not notice the signs and symptoms of such a debilitating condition ~ the cough, the wheezing the labored breathing.  I just didn't notice. Was I that oblivious?  I never thought I was oblivious, but there was the diagnosis, in black and white, telling me I missed so many symptoms.

It's been almost a year since I took her to the doctor to find out why she couldn't breathe at swim practice or at meets.  And in this past year I, we, have noticed no improvement in her ability to breathe.  There have been no vast changes in her as she swims at practice and in meets.  She has still had scary episodes where she desperately needed her inhaler.  I don't like it when I don't see progress in my kids after they have they have been diagnosed with anything ~ from ear infections to ADHD to asthma.  I want to see improvement and with Claire there was none.

Little alarm bells started ringing in my head when I talked to my girlfriend whose child has asthma.  They sounded even louder when I talked to my girlfriend whose son has CF.  Claire was being treated by her pediatrician, whom I absolutely adore, but after talking to my girlfriends I decided it was time for a visit to someone who specializes in breathing disorders.  The alarm bells weren't getting any quieter as time went on and there was no improvement, it was time for a trip to the pulminologist.

God love this man.  He spent two and a half hours with us or working for us, and he got to the bottom of Claire's breathing disorder.  So, no, she doesn't have asthma.  And thank God!  Because as you know, it's all about me, and I can't accept the fact that I won and lost and won again mother of the year with Claire's asthma diagnosis.  After tests and chest X-Rays and a thorough exam of Claire.  Dr. Elliott, to me the world's greatest doctor, told me that Claire has Vocal Cord Dysfunction.  OK, not exactly what I was expecting but, truly, I had no idea what I was expecting so at least Vocal Cord Dysfunction gives us a diagnosis we can use to move forward and away from meds that weren't doing any good.  I hate over medicating, so my love for this doctor, who I have to say looks like Santa, knows no bounds.

I know now that we have a NEW new normal.  And I can't tell you how very thankful I am that I listened to my gut and went ahead in trying to get to the bottom of what is really wrong with Claire's breathing (I won't bore you with all of the details but it's fairly interesting disorder that has been under-diagnosed or misdiagnosed with asthma which is why it's not heard of often).  I don't like medicating my kiddos when I don't have to.  I don't like not seeing improvement when they are medicated.  And I don't like it when I think I've totally screwed up and missed seeing something I think I should have seen.  So, I guess I'm feeling a bit vindicated.  I didn't miss something.  I was right to think we were over medicating and that something wasn't right with an asthma diagnosis.  We might have a NEW new normal but at least we're on the right path and can get Claire the proper help she needs.  My girlfriend whose daughter truly has asthma said that diligence is good when it comes to our "motherly gut instincts."  I have to say I think she's right and now we can move forward.

For the love of Claire....

Friday, January 25, 2013

And The Snow Fell

The book "Geraldine's Big Snow" is swirling around in my brain today.  I used to read it to the kids over and over and over again.  They always wanted to hear about Geraldine and her impending snow storm.  Today was the wait for another RVA snow storm.

And today the snow storm actually happened.  I didn't think it actually would.  I thought it would blow by us.  But luckily for the kids I was wrong.  When it did come, a line from the book kept playing through my head... "And then in the night it came.  Softly and quietly."  Only this snow didn't wait until night time.  This one came in the day.  And this snow didn't come softly or quietly.  This snow is loud and showy.

But I'm happy to say it snowed.  The kids are having a blast riding up and down the street on skim boards.  They are sledding up and down the hill beside our house.

I have a house full of kids drinking hot cocoa.  I have a yard full of boys tearing up the pristine snow.  All of my kiddos are here, in my house.  And I'm thankful.  I know where they are.  The boys aren't off trying to figure out how to drive in the snow.  They aren't off trying to be daredevils.  They are here.  And I'm more than thankful.

The snow may not have come in the night, like it did in "Geraldine's Big Snow."  It may not be soft and quiet around here, like it was in the book.  But the snow did fall...for the love of my children....

Thursday, January 24, 2013


How much is too much information?

I know it's good for kids to learn and understand all about reproduction and their bodies.  I'm all for it...between me and Stan, I'm the one who has all of the sex talks with the kids.  I don't have problems saying the words or explaining the processes.  I don't have a bit of a problem talking to them about wet dreams, periods, body parts, growing up and what's happening with their bodies.  I really don't.  I want to keep the lines of communication open and so far I guess I'm doing an OK job here at home.  Where I'm having a hard time is with the amount of information the kids are getting at school ~ or more specifically the way the information is being delivered....

Claire is in life science right now.  She's learning all things about, well, life.  Including the life cycle of people, plants, animals right up to the parts about reproduction.  Yesterday's lesson focused on meiosis.  Now, I'm not scientifically inclined...never have been, never will be so I'm not going to try and sound all smart with what it is.  Meiosis is all about the reproductive system ~ sperm and eggs and all that jazz.

Yesterday, Claire was telling me about her science class and what they were learning with a little blush spreading across her cheeks as she began the conversation with "well, science was a little awkward today."  I took the bait and bit.

"Why was it awkward" I asked?
"Because we're learning about meiosis," she answered and then she went on to explain to me exactly what I told you above...minus saying the words sperm and egg.
"Ahhhh, I can see why that would be awkward," I responded.

And that's where things got interesting, really interesting....

"At least my teacher didn't start class the way the other science teacher did," Claire says.
"And how did the other teacher begin class," I queried?
"She said, 'Well, class imagine that your parents had a really good time last night....'"  Claire told me, blushing furiously and peaking at me over the top of her glasses to see how I might respond.

It's a good thing I had my seatbelt on, let me tell ya'!  Otherwise, I may have fallen right out of my chair.  So, is that too much information to share with sixth graders?  Or is it just the method of delivery that bothers me?  I don't know.  I'm not sure I would have chosen to begin a class about meiosis with that example but who knows, maybe I would have.

The conversation turned away from meiosis and on to another class.

Claire begins to tell me how one of her friends is terrified of butterflies.  Why, is anyone's guess but she's afraid of butterflies.  For some reason, lost on me, one of Claire's teachers decides to draw a butterfly on this child's arm.  The girl tells the teacher how afraid she is of butterflies and somehow the subject changes to the teacher's tramp stamp...yep, the teacher said those words to her class (according to Claire, anyway).  Again, is this too much information to share with sixth graders, do they really need to know this about their teacher?   I don't know, but something tells me that they really don't need to know their teacher has a "tramp stamp" and that their two year old picks up the butterfly block from his set of building blocks and compares it to the butterfly tattoo on their teacher's back...

I'm all about kids knowing how things work, including the human body.  I love for them to learn as much as they can, including the fact that individuality is good (and tattoos are not bad).  I'm just wondering if maybe it's too much of the wrong kind of information for them as sixth graders.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Why Do We Hafta Go To School?

Asks Claire, in a whiny voice at dinner last night.  And without missing a beat Lucas says "so we don't grow up to be dumb asses."

Gotta love Lucas!  I think I nearly snorted wine out of my nose as those words passed his lips.  His tone was completely deadpan and face set like stone.  He said those words and he meant them.  He keeps me on my toes, that one.

Lucas might not like school but he realizes the importance of it. He's impressing the hell out of me this year, I gotta tell you.  I've never seen him this focused, this in tune, this with it, although it may have something to do with the threat we have hanging over his well or you're off to a private school ~ why that should be a threat is beyond me but it is so we'll keep it hanging over him.  As long as he's doing this well, he can stay at Henrico county public schools.

My former school enthusiast, Claire, has now taken on the role of a normal school aged is to be tolerated, never liked.  School is to be mocked, never loved.  School is a place to mourn the passing of days, never to be celebrated.  She's a middle schooler with all of the middle school angst. Middle school is a place I'm beginning to loathe more and more as days go's the place where school my enthusiast retired and became just a regular, old student.

As for Zach, when this little conversation took place, he said "Claire, it's amazing to me that last year you loved school but now that you're in middle school you realize the difference."

And boy does she realize the difference...elementary school was fun ~ middle school is, well, middle school.

What's funny (more funny peculiar than funny ha-ha) is they all know they are growing up way too fast and all of them are realizing how different parts of their lives are changing and morphing and shifting toward the path of being a grown up.

Through this whole conversation I have to say I was glad to hear Lucas realizes why they hafta go to school.  Dumb asses do not get very far in life, at least not many.  So with that tidbit of advice in hand from Lucas, we can all get on with our days.

Oh, for the the love of my children....

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Choose Kind

If you had the chance to do middle school all over again would you do it differently?  I'm pretty sure I would.  Not that I would choose to do middle school again, but if I had to, I think I would do things just a little differently.

Recently, and at Julie's recommendation, Claire and I read a book called "Wonder" written by R. J. Palacio.  It's one of the best pre-teen books I've read ~ ever ~ hands down and without a doubt.  Claire loved the book so much that she tried so hard to stretch it out.  She didn't want to finish it.  She wanted to savor every, single page of the book.

For me, reading it as a mom, it was a little different than it was for Claire reading it as a middle schooler.  The book's main character is August Pullman, was born with a facial deformity and had not been able to attend mainstream school until the beginning of his fifth grade year...the beginning of the middle school years for him and his peers.  Now, most of you know how much I truly hate middle school so, for me, this book reinforced all of the reasons I truly detest the middle school years.  Bullying, shunning, name the adversity and it was there in the book for all of the world to see.  And it was all directed at August Pullman because of his facial deformity.  As a mom, the thought of my child being put in that situation brought tears to my eyes over and over and over again.

But there was so much more to the book than the negativity I associate with middle school.  And I do mean so much more.  It was a beautifully crafted book with deep rich characters ~ people you would love to meet and be friends with.

One of my favorite characters is Mr. Browne, their English teacher.  Mr. Browne called his class to order on the first day, explaining what they were going to learn during the year.  He gave them the lay of the land and went on to give them their first assignment.


"Rules about really important things" is how he defined the word precept.  The kids took it one step further, asking if it could be like a motto.  Mr. Browne's answer was "Yes, like a motto."  He went on to say "Basically, a precept is anything that helps guide us when making decisions about really important things."  Mr. Browne told his class that at the beginning of each month he would give the kids a new precept, they would discuss it, learning what it means and at the end of each month they would have to write an essay on the precept.  Mr. Browne's first precept...

"When given the choice between being right and being kind...choose kind."

Choose kind.

I wonder how many of us could choose to be kind rather than right.  I know I can fight to the finish when I truly believe I am right.  I don't always choose kind.  And I have to wonder how different our world would be if we all chose to be kind sometimes, over being right.  I know my house is a lot happier when I choose kind.

As for going back to middle school ~ well, we all know that can't happen but if it did I wish that "choosing kind" was etched on the walls...a reminder to us all that battles, both visible and invisible, rage inside of everyone.  Choosing kind is a small way to help ease some of those battles for others.

Moving forward in life, I hope I can remember this precept a little more often than not.  I hope I can help my children learn to choose kind over being right sometimes.  I think Claire learned this lesson well.  She read the book, she understands this precept and how it affected Auggie Pullman.

Choose kind...for the love of our children....

Sunday, January 20, 2013

My Two Words of the Day ~ Try and Aim

With only one of our boys playing travel hockey this season, for the first time in six years, I have gotten out of practice and have forgotten what a travel weekend with 17 teenage boys is like.  So my two words for this weekend reflect my observations about my time with Lucas and his team.

Lucas' team has a hockey tournament this weekend and the game times have required two overnight stays away from home.  Stan took the first night/day and I came in yesterday so I could be able to watch the team's games today.  This morning dawned bright and early, with the first game beginning at 7, which required a 5:30 wake up so they could be at the rink by 6.  Lucas got up  easily this morning and made his way to the bathroom....

Which brings me to my first word ~ AIM!  Aim for the water in the toilet, not just the toilet in general.  It's been months and months and months since I have had the "pleasure" of sharing a hotel room with a 14 year old boy whose aim is less than stellar.

And that thought brings me to my second word of the day ~ TRY!  While I have enjoyed every second of my time with Lucas I can safely say, I haven't missed one single minute of sharing a bathroom with a male who doesn't at least TRY to AIM!

Both of these words can also be translated into the boys effort on the ice as well.  TRY and AIM!  This morning, I saw a team play who didn't try and whose aim was off...and I don't mean aiming for the net, I meaning AIMING for playing well and playing as a team.  Today I saw a team who didn't TRY!

Not much pisses me off more than watching a hockey game full of kids who aren't aiming to win or at least TRYING to win!  I know there are going to be games which will be lost to teams who are flat out better than our boys on the ice but this morning wasn't one of those times.  This team was no better than our boys.  But the other team this morning aimed for the win and they tried hard to win.  And they did.

I hope this next game is full of aiming high and trying hard from our boys.  I'd like for them to end this tournament weekend on a high note.  I'm not neccessarily angling for a win or an advancement to the finals, just a good ol' college try with them aiming high.

As far as traveling with Lucas and staying in a hotel room with him, it's been a blast but I hope next time he tries to aim for the water in the toilet and not the toilet in general.

Oh, what we do for the love of our children....

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chapter 1

...of my new "first" novel.  It is said that most first novels are a piece of crap.  Well, the thing is I really like my true first novel.  It just turned out to be much more than I think I can handle at this point in my writing.  So we, Julie and I, decided we were each going to write a new "first" novel, an easier story to tackle.  My new "first" novel is a tawdry romance, complete with salacious content (none of which is included in this chapter).  Here is my first chapter of this yet to be named novel.  ENJOY!

Chapter 1  DAY 1
Two weeks earlier...

How did things get so bad, Charley thought to herself?  It’s not really that bad, she corrected.  She has a good life, from the outside anyway.  Anyone looking in would think she has the picture perfect life.  It makes her think of the song “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” by Mary Chapin Carpenter.  She sits quietly as the lyrics play through her head...

She makes his coffee, she makes his bed
She does the laundry, she keeps him fed
When she was twenty-one she wore her mother's lace
She said "forever" with a smile upon her face
She does the car-pool, she PTAs
Doctors and dentists, she drives all day
When she was twenty-nine she delivered number three
And every Christmas card showed a perfect family
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her
She packs his suitcase, she sits and waits
With no expression upon her face
When she was thirty-six she met him at their door
She said I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
God forbid you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her
For fifteen years she had a job and not one raise in pay
Now she's in the typing pool at minimum wage
Everything runs right on time, years of practice and design
Spit and polish till it shines. He thinks he'll keep her
Everything is so benign, safest place you'll ever find
At least until you change your mind. He thinks he'll keep her

In reality, she knows things aren’t that bad compared to what some others have but the hurt and anger building from years of unresolved conflicts has taken its toll.  Charley and Garrett rarely talk anymore.  The laughter is gone.  It’s been replaced by apathy.  There’s no anger or acrimony, only emptiness.  Where there was once passion, laughter and a shared ideal about building a life together there is now only indifference.  The TV is the moderator in their marriage.  As long as the TV is on, there are no conflicts.  But she wonders how, with no work being put into their marriage, he thinks he’ll keep her.

Charley used to be the one to pick fights, to try and draw out what was wrong between them and fix the problems.  But she got so tired of feeling like a nag and a shrew, she stopped.  It was always up to her to fix things between them.  Garrett was happy to bury his head in the sand and let things go.  When Charley would bring up a problem, he would sit and talk with her.  Garrett would look interested and seem to want to fix issues but no matter what he said, things always went back to the way Garrett wanted them.  If he wanted to fix things he would fix them but if they were Charley’s issues things always went back to the way they were before.  It was exhausting and unrewarding work, so Charley stopped working at their marriage ~ hoping though, always hoping, Garrett would see how empty their marriage had become and want to fix it before it was too late.  

In reality, Charley goes on to think, it could be worse and she tries to look at all of the good she has.  She has to focus on that, just to get through today.  She knows she has their beautiful kids, three of them came one after another and the twins made it five.  She and Garrett have a beautiful house in a great neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky.  Charley has a good job she loves, doing exactly what she wants to do ~ creating beautiful places in ordinary spaces.  She has a good and decent and honorable life.  

Her mind wanders to what she no longer has...she has a handsome husband she once adored and who once thought she was the world but that feeling seems to be gone.  The joy in life she once felt has vanished.  She’s flat.  Her marriage is mediocre, at best, teetering on divorce, at worst.  Charley doesn’t understand why, if it used to be so good, they have let it go to the point of being nearly irreparable.  

She sits at the computer and pulls up picture after picture of happy days gone by.  There is not much there, inside Charley’s heart.  No joy looking at the pictures.  Only sadness wondering what went wrong.  There’s such an emptiness there.  Will he keep me, Charley wonders out loud?  Or is it too late?  

Charley is reminded of an unfinished poem she wrote when things started getting bad and feels the need to read it again.  She goes on to wonder, for the hundredth time if things will ever repair themselves as she reads the words she wrote not long ago...

The Questions
The questions I have, there are so many.
The answers ~ I’m afraid, right now, there aren’t any.

They’ll come from within, only answered by me.
Right now there is nothing for me to give, you see

My heart is so heavy, so hurt.
Not a thing can be done for the pain to avert.

Did I love you with all of my heart?
Or did I just love the love the thought of “us” from the start?

We seemed so perfect, so right.
Everything was wonderful.  You were my knight.

Did I do the right thing?
Did I just want a ring?

Did I rush you?
What did I do?

I didn’t want to be alone.
Oh, how I wish I had known.

Ws this the path I was supposed to choose?
Or did I choose the path where we both lose?

I don’t know which end is up or down.
I feel I am ready to drown.

This is not the right life for you or for me.
This is not right, not for either to be.

We are full of despair and not at all right.
I want it back to when we filled each other with delight.


The poem stops there.  Will the “we” continue, Charley thinks?  She powers down the computer, putting away the pictures, the song and the poem for another day.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Heart Hurts a Little Today

I feel a bit off-kilter, out of whack and completely scattered today.  I am having a hard time regaining my equilibrium and focus. Today I had a meeting with my writing friend, Julie.  Normally I leave my meetings with Julie pumped up and ready to rule the world of words.  But that didn't happen today.  Today, my thoughts are straying to an old man who touched us both.

I  think both of us look forward to our writing meetings.  It's a safe place to talk goals, books, dreams, affirmations and ways to improve our writing.  We always go to the same place.  It's an artsy, little place in the heart of an artsy, little part of Richmond.  I love the effect Can Can in Carytown has on me.   It makes me feel alive, vibrant and part of something much bigger than I am.  It makes me feel like I can be a part of an artsy world with people who are lined up to read my words.  It's a place where Julie and I connect with an esoteric feeling when we talk about our writing.

Today's meeting started off the exact same way it always does.  With me flying in the door and my thoughts all a jumble to find Julie peacefully seated at a table with her tea and her fruit and yogurt parfait.  I plopped my things down at our table.  With my tea and bagel ordered from the coffee bar, I finally settle in to talk.  As I sat down today, it dawned on me that we have been going to Can Can every week for at least three months.  I wondered, in my head, if anyone working there realized our regularity in the little bistro on the corner.  My tea and bagel were brought to me and it was then I knew that we have not yet been classified as regulars.  The waitress put my tea and bagel in front of me and left with a scant acknowledgment of either of us...the same as all the other times we have been there.  

As our meeting progressed and we got further into the meat of the meeting, I saw an old man walking up slowly, painfully in front of the windows where we sat.  His gait was that of a man who struggles with each step, slightly shuffling one foot in front of the other.  His cane steadied him as he made his way closer and closer to the door.  I couldn't take my eyes off of him.  He seemed so alone and vulnerable.  His camel colored coat was threadbare.  His hands were gnarled around the top of his cane and the color of his face was ashen.  Something about him kept me glued to him.  I couldn't focus on anything else.  As he passed my chair at the bank of windows where we sat, I saw his hand reach for the wall.  At that point, he became the focus of Julie's world as well.  

Julie watched him as he grasped the side of the building.  She saw him as he entered the restaurant.  She tried hard not to focus on him but it was a losing battle for both of us.  As he made his way past me, I took in the rest of his appearance.  His gait seemed forced and it was then I realized he was wearing shoes that seemed far too big for his feet.  I watched him as he continued on past me and I saw the price sticker on the back of his left foot.  It was the type of sticker you would see on clothing from the Goodwill store.  And my heart constricted just a little for this man.  

He made his way to the coffee counter where I kept watching, wanting to make sure he got something to eat or drink.  When I saw a large cup of coffee in front of him I relaxed a little, knowing he had something warm in his hands.  I watched as he made his way to the newspaper rack and picked out a paper to read.  My guard went down even further as he walked back to his barstool.  In my mind, now, he would be OK.  

How wrong I was.  

Julie whispered to me, in a small voice, that he was on the floor.  She didn't know what happened.  She didn't see him fall off of the stool.  All Julie knew was that he was lying on his back in the middle of the restaurant.  

And my heart constricted a little more.  You see, as he walked in and I watched him I imagined he would be what my father would be if he hadn't gotten sober and he didn't have my mom or any family.  He could easily be the man wearing the too big shoes with the Goodwill price sticker still on the back, sitting at a counter, reading a newspaper and quietly slipping to the ground, alone. 

I'm not trying to say that this man is an alcoholic or alone...I have no idea who or what he is.  All I do know is he reminded me of my what my father could be....a quiet man who could easily fall through the cracks if he didn't have my mom watching out for him and over him.  

Julie and I watched as the staff called for an ambulance.  We watched the other customers stay by his side, trying to keep the man who fell off his stool comfortable.  We watched the manager make small talk with him. We watched the paramedics load him onto the stretcher.  We listened as the entire wait staff said "good bye" and "see you tomorrow."  And then we knew ~ he is a regular at Can Can.   It was then we both realized how much we both wanted to be regulars so we could ask about him, ask about which hospital he was going to, ask who is, ask if he's ok or if he's alone.  We wanted to be considered regulars so we could make sure the man with the threadbare coat and ashen skin would be OK.

Julie and I stayed put at our table far longer than is usual.  Neither one of us was willing to leave before we saw he was loaded into the ambulance and transported to the nearest hospital.  We both wished the same wish, that there would be someone on the other end of the ambulance waiting for him ~ someone from his family who loves and cares for this man.  

My heart hurts a little for a man I know nothing about but wish nothing but the best for.  He has stayed with me all day, keeping me a little off kilter and scattered, wondering how he is.  I hope he knows he has touched two souls today.  Two people, who before today, were unaware of this little old man but now send nothing but good wishes his way.  My biggest wish for him is that he has what I am so very grateful and love.  

Oh, for the love of my children...  

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year's Wishes For My Children

To my little loves who aren't so little anymore,

You all have grown up so quickly.  It seems like just last year that we stood in line to get your photos taken, or not taken, with Santa.  It seems just like yesterday that you all were little ones with your eyes alight at the thought of Christmas morning.  And it seems like just a moment ago that you all believed in Santa with all your might.  With the speed of passing years getting faster I would love for you to know my wishes for you as you grow up and go forth into this big, wide world where things are more complicated than need be and harsher than sometimes can ever be imagined.

My first wish for you is to always believe in Santa.  Believe in what he stands for.  Believe in the goodness of his heart.  Believe in the power of magic.  Believe in love.  These things are what, in my mind, Santa gives to us.

Wish number two is for you to be able to weather any storm that is thrown your way.  Unfortunately, there will be storms, there always are in any life that is worth living.  And unfortunately, I won't always be able to protect from these storms of life.  So I wish you the strength to be able to work through the pain and come out stronger through your trials.

Wish three ~ is that you never develop a brittle outer shell when you go through your storms.  This may be the hardest wish for you.  Like I said above, life will hand you storms and my wish is that you will always be able to remain tough enough to weather the storm but never become brittle.

Wish four ~  my wish for you is to remain loyal to those who deserve it but to be able to leave behind those in your life who don't.

Wish five ~ to continue to see the world through the wondrous eyes of a child.  Never become jaded, my loves.  Always remember to live, learn, laugh and wonder at the miracles of our lives.

Wish six ~ I wish that you will always take time to hug the ones you love.   Big bear hugs.  Big, giant enveloping hugs.  Give them.  Receive them.  Relish them ~ always.

Wish seven ~  I wish that you will continue to value love of people well above the love of stuff.  Stuff can be replaced.  People can't.

Wish eight ~  is one of my grandest wishes...I wish that you will always love each other.

Wish nine ~  When it's time to find the love of your lives make sure they treat you well and with respect.  Make sure you do the same for them.  Respect and love go hand in hand.

Wish 10 ~ this is wish is actually for me...

I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish tonight...I wish you know how very much you are loved by me ~ always.  I wish time would slow, just a little, so I can revel in you for far longer. And I wish, as you grow up and go forth in this world that you shine brilliantly for all the world to see.  You three never cease to amaze me with your wit, wisdom and humor.

With love to my sweet little ones who are growing too quickly,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Scared Shitless

Last night was New Year's Eve...our first New Year's Eve with a legal teenage driver in the house.  Yesterday I had grand plans for a New Year's Eve celebration for the boys.  I planned the whole shebang out in my head, organizing thoughts about bringing in pizzas, sodas, chips, cookies....every teenage boys' dream menu.  And then I asked Zach what his plans were, hoping against hope, he would say he wanted to spend New Year's Eve here with Libby, his girlfriend, and a group of his friends.   My hopes were dashed as he said "I'm going to Libby's tonight."

And that's when I got scared shitless.  My insides turned to ice as I imaged Zach driving the streets of Richmond at midnight.  My eyes filled with tears and my heart thumped wildly in my chest as thoughts of Zach driving home on New Year's Eve filled my head.  He's a new-ish driver.  He's only been behind the wheel for a year and a half.  He's a good, responsible driver but all my brain could envision were the other drivers ~ the ones who weren't responsible, the ones who were drinking and the ones who were going to kill someone with their careless, reckless, irresponsible behavior.  I couldn't wrap my head around the fact that Zach is a good driver.  I could only see the other side and it scared the holy living shit out of me.

I know I need to let go, a little.  I know Zach is growing up.  I know Zach wanted to ring in the New Year with his girlfriend.  And he deserves to all of these things.  He has proven to us that he is trustworthy.  I knew we had to let him go, test his wings just a little on this very scary night.

But we've all heard the horror stories of the drunks who kill and get killed on New Year's Eve.  I know they are out there other nights of the year as well, but this one night is so highly publicized it makes it harder to ignore the fact that someone, somewhere will lose a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend because of another's stupidity in getting behind the wheel when their faculties are impaired.  The horror stories are all I could think about yesterday as we talked about curfews, rules and the "safest" route home.

We made Zach swear up and down, sideways and backwards that he wouldn't touch one little, tiny drop of alcohol.  We made him promise to be extra vigilant on his travels home.  We agreed on a later curfew so he could ring in the New Year with Libby.  He agreed to everything, easily, promising he would make his curfew with time to spare.

In all of the planning of his night we did have some moments of levity as he asked to spend the night at Libby's.  Stan's deadpan response was classic "Zach, I think that may be the dumbest question you've ever asked me in your almost 17 years.  Why won't I let you spend the night at your girlfriend's house?   Why would I, would be a better question."  Personally, I didn't think it was so dumb.  I know if it were reversed and Libby were coming here, it would be an offer I would make to her and her family ~ to keep her off the streets at midnight.  But Stan and Zach joked back and forth about the reality of Zach not spending the night at his girlfriend's house.

In the end of all of this, Zach put his car in gear around 8:30 and headed to Libby's as Stan and I walked across the street to our neighbor's gathering.  We rang in the New Year with some fabulous friends and two/thirds of our children.   At 12:15 I got the word, Zach's car just pulled up to our house. I stepped onto the front porch as Zach was getting out of the car with his arms raised in victory saying "See, Mom, I'm home alive!"  My arms shot up as I let out a mighty whoop and got swept up in a 17 year old's giant bear hug wishing me a Happy New Year.

I will continue to get scared shitless as these kids grow and go to places outside the confines of our home and our family.  But I can't hold them back because of my fear.  I have to let them go, a little now, and a lot later.  I may not like it but there's not much I can do about it except tell them I love them as they leave and hope they'll always remember that.

Oh, for the love of my children....