Countdown

My head spins with emotion. D must make his college decision by this Monday. We had a rich conversation the other night. And oh how this filled me. In ways I tiptoed around the words, the engagement, for fear it would end sooner than I wished.

Bright and stronger than he realizes, D is on the verge of his next life journey. He has no time for me, or rather desires no time with me. This hurts me to my core. I know logically this is healthy. His friends are his world. And he is consciously trying to separate and prepare himself for this incredible change that is waiting to unfold. But it still hurts.

My first born son who I sang to every night and rubbed his head is grown. He now awkwardly gives me a hug as though it’s foreign to him. When all I want to do is squeeze him so tightly. Even now as I right this, I can’t help but cry. How I love this boy so very much. How proud I am of him. How worried, how I hold my breath for him, how I am in shock at how fast this time has come.

As much as I tried to teach him and parent him and help him grow, he taught me as well. This boy helped me grow as a person.

The countdown begins. These next few months will be filled with so much emotion. He’s ready, hesitantly I know. But it is I that I am not sure will ever be truly ready.

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Another Christmas Past

This year Christmas was different. Different than it has been for nearly 20 years. I was not invited to my ex-husband’s parents’ home to celebrate the day. In fact, there was no discussion. Simply a text that asked if taking the boys at noon and returning them later that evening would be an acceptable plan. And that was how I came to find out I was not welcome. Texts from my mother-in-law voicing I was in their thoughts didn’t quite make me feel any better. As they did not express any consideration either. I will say my parents have and continue to let my ex-husband know he is always welcome to a family gathering even if to just stop by and say hi to family members he no longer sees. But…he never does.

I thought I was okay. I had time to mentally prepare myself for the day. And truthfully I was with my boys, the most important part of the day, all morning. But when my house fell silent and the emptiness started to invade me, I made a last minute decision to go to my brothers. He and his in-laws had already expressed a desire for me to join them. In fact they somewhat pleaded this case. And with all their sweet intentions and definitely heartfelt words, there was a feeling of pity splattered on top that never sits well with me. The last thing I want is pity. I overlooked this and headed north just the same.

I was greeted by my sweet nieces taking me by the hand and excitedly showing me all that Santa left that morning. Their hugs were medicinal. My brother and his wife have a simple way of exuding love. It lacks any unnecessary negativity, stress, and certainly is never pretentious. As a result, my mood was stable and I felt fairly balanced…until I returned home.

I couldn’t deny the excitement of my boys, particularly T. He was floating on air, bouncing, happy. And I did all that I could do to try and smile. When my ex-husband asked what I did, as I knew he would, I reluctantly told him. In his mind I had a good day, I did something and was with family. “That’s great!” Oh, how I wanted to scream and cry and curse right then. It wasn’t until I lay in my bed all tucked in under my covers later that night that I cried. A release in many ways I was not expecting. I woke to swollen eyes that caught co-workers attention. I felt so vulnerable and exposed.

So yes, another Christmas passed by..this one less extravagant than ones prior. I have no amazing stories of the day. I have no report of any epiphanies realized. I only have a shift. Another shift. Hesitantly looking forward to the new year, I remain bruised.

Giving

Here we are on Thanksgiving Eve. Please tell me how a year went by so very fast! Last year my post was a reflection on 10 things for which I am thankful. One year later, it all remains true..and then some. But Thanksgiving is not only about being thankful but also about giving – Thanks  Giving.

So this year I’d like to focus on what I can give. Like last year, I’ll break it down to a top 10. I can give:

  1. A smile – to everyone. As I reminded T just this week, the smile you give may be the only one someone sees for the day. A smile can be the simplest sign of hope.
  2. My undivided attention – to my boys..without distractions, no phone, no computer, no cleaning. Just focus on what they are telling me.
  3. My time – whether it be volunteering at my boys’ schools, meeting with a friend who needs support, or sitting with patients who need that extra minute.
  4. My expertise – to help change children’s lives for the better. One at a time.
  5. My best – to my family, my friends, my co-workers. Just give my all to all I do.
  6. My love – I’ve learned it’s one thing to say the words “I love you” but quite another to show and give love.
  7. My compassion – whether it’s a simple gesture of kindness or offering a hand to hold.
  8. My respect – for those who keep us safe, for those who everyday put one foot in front of the other despite the obstacles, for those consistently standing up for what they believe to be true.
  9. My positive thoughts – thoughts become and blossom into actions. I will feed my positive wishes so they grow for you.
  10. My heart..someday. It’s pretty well protected today. But someday, soon I hope, I will give all my heart to someone who can hold it as if it were their most precious treasure.

I truly live in abundance. I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

13 Years Ago

It was just a short 13 years ago I was washing the kitchen floor, my belly uncomfortably big as it stretched to hold you, keeping you safe and warm and nestled. The phone rang. It was the doctor. “How do you feel about having the baby tomorrow morning?” You were a scheduled C-Section planned for October 10th. It would only be two days sooner, but it instantly became an overwhelming thought “No, I am not ready.” Having two days to finish cleaning, preparing mentally and physically seemed like a necessity. But, in the end the pros outweighed the cons. A few phone calls later, making plans for someone to watch your big brother, and the decision was made. I would be the first scheduled C-Section of the day. October 8, 2004.

I will admit when I learned I was pregnant for a second time, I was not overjoyed. I was scared. I felt guilty. Feeling as though I did not perfect being a mom to your big brother, I wondered how I could become a mom to two. I remember even apologizing to your big brother – he had no clue why – but in a weird, distorted way I felt like I was betraying him. I didn’t want to fail this mom gig.

You were here. And suddenly, I was a mom to two boys. You screamed as they quite literally opened up your world. I can imagine the bright lights of the operating room pierced your snug home. A beautiful, perfect baby boy. And how you looked so much like your dad. You had so many visitors, so many people who could not wait to hold you. A big brother who wore a baseball cap that proudly stated such looked at you admiringly. We brought you home a day early, ready to begin yet another chapter. I recovered much quicker and certainly much easier than with your brother. There were still challenging days and difficult moments, but it all fell into place.

You have been a miracle. A soul that is so full of love and kindness. A remarkable human being. I once thought how could my heart possibly have room for the love of another child. And yet, my heart does not remember how it felt without you in it. You and your brother together filled up my heart to completeness. You were given to me despite me not feeling ready or worthy. Someone or something obviously knew better than I. Thank you for being my son. Thank you for letting me be your mom. My world is so much brighter because of you. I love you my sweetest.

Messages

I once wrote about wishing I could go forward in time to see my boys okay – as a way of giving me peace today. Having a knowledge that in the end, it will all be okay. Lately, I have been having discussions with T, in response to his observations about his father, about life really and people. Truthfully, I have found it somewhat difficult walking a fine line between speaking negatively about his father’s actions/words and providing some clarification and lessons. As T gets older and starts to understand more I’d like to be able to offer positive words to ignite a knowingness in T that he does not have to follow his father’s path. And I speak specifically of T simply because of his recent conversations with me, but hope D hears me as well. At the moment D is muddled in between being a 17 year old, stubborn, on-the-verge-of-fleeing-the-nest-but-keeping-one-foot-cautiously-in-the-door, defiant, and yet loving and happy young man. He knows his father, but he so desperately wants his father – on the surface I don’t think D is even aware of this feeling – consciously anyway. I, as his mom, am left in a challenging corner that I have been arduously working to maneuver. Which leads me to the purpose of this post. There have been so many messages I have hoped my boys receive from me and understand and keep with them as they grow.

  1. Always hold the door open for others – not just women, but everyone. A small gesture of kindness truly can spark a light of hope in someone’s day.
  2. Be unselfish in your life. The world is bigger than you and I. Know when you do for others, you actually benefit just as much.
  3. But..remember to take care of your self. When you grow your being in a positive light, when you feed your own soul, when you treat your mind, body, and spirit as the temple it is, you will evoke happy energy.
  4. Your past does not define your future. Every single day you have a choice.
  5. Exercise. It not only strengthens your muscles, it strengthens your mind.
  6. Volunteer. Give to charity. Make a difference. And don’t forget the Starfish Story.
  7. Respect your partner. Take a deep breath and please think before you speak. Words can’t be taken back. YOU own your actions and your words.
  8. Family. Don’t ever give up on family.
  9. Truth. In your life, be truth. Speak it, show it, and model it.
  10. Be kind. Remember you have no idea what someone has gone through, what they have endured or experienced.
  11. Don’t forget to respect others and yourself. We are all human beings existing in a shared space.
  12. Don’t get caught up in the small details so much so that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
  13. Someday if you have you own children, relish in each moment, every stage of their life, plant seeds of confidence, and self-worth, and love in their hearts with your words and your actions.
  14. Go to bed every night saying “Good Night, I love You” to at least one person.

I am sure I could add more to this list and maybe someday I will. But know my beautiful boys, I love you with all my heart. Everything I am and everything I do, is because of both of you. You are my heart. You are my soul. You are my breath. Please forgive me for the mistakes I have made as your mom, but know I have tried and will always try to do and be my best for you. You are my reason.

Wisdom (from a 7 year old)

I admit, I approached the Fourth of July, in fact the whole week, with a bit (maybe a lot?) of melancholy. Maybe it was hard to shake? But maybe I didn’t try? And you know what….I’m not so sure that is a bad thing. Why? Because I was aware, very aware of how I was feeling. And I think it’s so important to feel, to process every emotion.. even the ones that unexpectedly pop up, even the ones that don’t. Selfishly, it was hard watching families share the day together – I wanted the same. My mom’s friend commented “Oh, you have no kids today? Enjoy this time!” I couldn’t even muster a full (fake) smile to her words that were in so direct contrast to my wishes. Not too long after, my mom looked to a woman she was speaking to and asked “Is it okay that I tell her?” and then across the boat dock loudly stated “She had Stage 3 Breast Cancer!” This woman’s battle, who I did not know, my mom suddenly felt – as I sat with my brother about 10 feet away from her – should be announced to me at that moment. What??

Truthfully my mom’s energy is not one that is positive. Managing how I allow her energy to affect me can be draining in and of itself. But still I was aware. The whole day. I consciously breathed in the salt water air, felt the ocean breeze against my body, and enjoyed with a vengeance the sea salt and vinegar Cape Cod chips. My brother made us all belly laugh as is his talent. And my sweet nieces gave me so much unconditional love as I knew they would. My dearest sister-in-law and I shared a few eye rolls as she struggled (understandably so) to manage my mother’s behavior. And my father, well with each year I  have come to appreciate more and more his patience and kindness and calm way. How I wish I were more like him.

But the highlight of the day was when my 7 year old  niece looked at me and said “This is the best day ever!” We had done nothing out of the ordinary this day – boating, tubing, eating. So I curiously and somewhat perplexed asked “Why?” And quite matter-of-factly she stated “Because first, it’s Fourth of July. And.. I got to eat a cake pop and a cannoli. And I got to tube. And I got to stand there in the front of the boat.” And there in that moment all wrapped up in my beautiful, wisdom-full niece was gratitude and mindfulness and love. It quite literally stopped me, gave me pause. I am so happy I was present for that gift.

The Fourth

I do love everything about the Fourth of July. From parades to cookouts to the red, white, and blue to the fireworks. I love love fireworks. But this year is different. My boys decided to spend the holiday with their father. With their grandparents, cousins, aunt, and uncle. And their father’s girlfriend. If I told you my heart is hurting, it’d be an understatement. It’s a physical space I once shared with them…to be honest, I’m feeling somewhat replaced. My oldest was allowed to bring his girlfriend and as a result was in his glory. And T..well T just goes with the flow. But me, being without them on my favorite holiday pains me. It’s so incredibly opposite of all that I wanted. And this emptiness can feel suffocating. The tug of emotions. Happy for them and for their father to have this time with them…especially D who rarely spends time with his father. And I am happy for my (ex) in-laws for they love having their family together. Yet, the core of me is sad. And I get that may be selfish. And I get that time marches on. And I get that it’s been nearly five years. But family is in my heart. It’s in my being. And I don’t think any amount of time will change that for me.

So today I will spend time with my parents, my brother, and his family. And I will give my three precious nieces a few extra hugs today. Their ever relentless love for me will somehow soothe my shaking soul I know. And will keep me from just curling up in a ball, crying myself into a defeated sleep to wake to a reality that will shock me once again. I know chances are each stumble, each fall, will only act to strengthen me in the end. And I am fighting to stay clear, to stay strong, and true. This Fourth of July is different yes. But I think it just may be a turning point.