Random and Regular

The Fall shames me. Today I went with our son to registration for high school. Of course I didn’t realize registration was today until it was nearly over. When we arrived I explained to the first lady who started hunting for his name that he had not yet been signed up. She asked if we were new in town. “No, he’s just been to a private school” Of course she had to introduce me to the vise-principal who asked very loudly if we were new in town, to which I answered again “No”, he walked us over to the registrar’s office who had more questions and gave us a packet a papers.

How all these hundreds of families knew something I didn’t is nothing new to me. My poor kids, I embarrass them continually. Found this article I wrote on ADHD and wanted to share it again. Here’s to the Mom’s out there who feel like losers and are nothing of the sort. We will make it through another fall, and so will our kids:)

...because healing spreads

If you don’t believe in ADHD, come follow me around for a day or two.  I will make you a believer.  I don’t mean to be random, I just am.  I spent a lot of my life thinking I was stupid.  Wondering why I couldn’t hear a word spoken, busy with a thought far away from whatever was being said around me.  Couldn’t sit still.  Sitting in the tortured stillness of church or school impossible unless I distracted myself by bumping my knee up and down, relentlessly doodling or standing up intermittently and pacing at the back of the room.  Or the forever late problem.  Loosing friends because of being late, forgetting what I said I’d bring, or forgetting altogether that I would be meeting them.  Getting lost going places I’ve been dozens of times.  Loosing things.  Paying bills late with plenty of money in the bank.  Having no idea…

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The Other Word For Parent is Misunderstood

Piling out of the crammed and over-stuffed car, Butterfly and I stood in rest-stop bathroom line for personal mini bathrooms the way Montana I90 does, awaiting our turn.  One was open, I went in with her to help her paper the seat, we hurried through till we got to hand washing.  For some reason the push button sink provided only nearly scalding water.  Mary had dumped a handful of the thick aqua soap into little palm, scrubbed hands good and was attempting to rinse the soap off, but the water was the hottest water to ever come out of a bathroom sink.  Of course Mary had to scream bloody murder loud while trying to get the soap off her hands.  The rinsing attempts and the screams rattled my nerves – like 5 MINUTES OF THIS, we got through the ordeal, quick turned the deadbolt to open door and walk out into a hallway and there before us stood a long line of lady faces boring holes with eyes into the flesh of me.  I tried not to burst out laughing.  I love the mother bear in the Sisters of the Earth, imaging who-knows-what.  I could have eased their pain with the facts, but couldn’t.  Cat just got my tongue.  I guess the pink and blue and braids skipping beside me toward the water fountain rattling on and on will be the only thing for easing their curious indignation.  In any case, here’s to the Mom’s and Dad’s everywhere who are incessantly judged for all the happenstances that kids and any given day will bring.  And here’s to the bystand-ing Sister Protectors.  May they be able to sleep at night, despite the haunting screams other side of wall at the rest stop.   

July 4th, 2017

I Saw Your Son Yesterday

I saw your son yesterday.  Standing on the corner for a brief moment before he jaywalked in front of my car  – blue jeans, t-shirt, flip flops stride wide cross the downtown Seattle thorofare, tall frame and wide shoulders, black hair, the curls all wild. 

Beauty – I caught a glimpse of beauty beneath the emaciated form – the body torn down by a substance that owns him.  Leads him  – ring in nose – under the bridge to where he feels OK.  To an army of ‘ease the pain’ worshipers who sacrifice themselves for a fix. 

I saw your son yesterday, and yelled at God.  “What does it take for you to touch a body and make it whole again?  What if he’s too far gone to reach for You?  Can’t you just take the voices in his head and hush them still so that the fix is not his only relief?”

I saw your son yesterday, as light turned green, I passed him by.  Behind me, he and hundreds of other mother’s sons there to just make it through…

Another crave. 

Another fix. 

Another sleep it off. 

Only to wake up needing more. 

I saw your son yesterday, and asked God to be ‘The More’ for him, and all the mother’s sons with him. 

The Quiet Voice low. 

“…saw her son?  

He’s my Son, too.”

How a Busy Working Mom Finds Time to Write.

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Yesterday I thought I might try to publish some of my work.  And I say so.  Out loud.  As would have it, yesterday left not a minute for writing.  A weekend day filled to the brim with everything but.  Worried husband at the very mention of the thing has visions of our lives falling into shredded bits.  The kids suddenly are very needy.  As are numerous unmentioned others.  There is dinner to make, a friend I’ve promised to call.  The dirty house, the eternally corrupted place of living, reaching to me, wanting more and still more.  Hurriedly, I do what I can, hoping.  Kids, finally kissed goodnight, I rush through my own bedtime busyness, still in hopes of quiet space for writing.  And alas, it’s bedtime – Adored husband reminds me of this fact as I move toward overstuffed writing chair.  In bed, I lay still.  Very much awake, mind spinning with the things paper and I might say.  I behave myself.  I don’t slide out of bed the way I want to, to a lonely laptop.  Adored Husband might stir, and even if he doesn’t, tomorrow is full.  I need sleep. 

Today I wake to the early dawn alarm. The daily race, it rushes me.  Leaving College Girl and Butterfly sleeping, I ready myself for an hour at the pool where our son swims for a team, and where I swim with Mom.  Out of pool, showered and ready for the day, together we hurry toward home, Mom and Son and I.  Gulp down a breakfast, hugs and kisses to Butterfly, still sleepy she has meandered down the stairs – all decked out in a tinkerbell tutu. 

Goodbyes said, I make my way back to the track where I walk with my clients.  Walk and talk, that’s what we do.  Step and then another and another.  7.5 miles my dusty shoe tread takes me round the track.  I listen to the happenings of the week, shame and fear, days past, strengths gained, tears, rage, numb and steps we take together.  Hour after hour we move across the earth, warm and bright today.  The last hour, is overcast, with sputters of rain, and still we walk.  All hours filled with life raw for healing. 

Last client seen, I make my way toward the thrift store for sharing 5 bags of books, clothes and toys that hoard space in the backseat of my kid-mobile.  Home again, Butterfly and Grandma have made peanut butter cookies.  All Mr. Business is listening to an old Spike Jones song – and loud.  Laughing, he plays it one more time for me.  I laugh.  Write.  How am I to write?  A few minutes for hearing the happenings of the day, knock on door, neighbor-kiddo’s face peeks through door glass – the stampede and they’re off to play.

Oh, my chance.  A minute to steal.  Here I sit, stolen moment, and all is blank.  Of all the inner tuggings to write, it’s gone. Nothing.  Too tired to be angry or hopeless, just numb.  Blob on couch with screen and keys.  The only thought that comes to me is a question.  How clean, I wonder, is a writer’s house?  House of working Mom who writes?  And I remember the grand writing projects that form when I’m in motion.

washing dishes

pulling weeds

piling them high in wheelbarrow for hauling away

painting a chair

                                   sorting

                                                                             throwing away

The best of both worlds.  Dig into the ever-reaching house until I’m inspired, and like a hot potato, drop it all to write without ceasing until the beauty unearthed by some grand cleaning frenzy has taken shape on paper.  Then back to daily tasks again for the next gathering of rich and lovely heart things to tell about. 

The family, they will survive.  They will become accustom to the rhythm of the exchange.  With hopes high, I spring off Seat of Nothingness – rush to the pantry to grab a paper bag and two for filling.  Piling high.  Higher.  Tap shoes, plaid shirts, engineering books, games, tupperware lids without a use.  Haul step by heavy step down the stairs, out into the car where they will be rushed off for sharing. 

That’s it!  Scouring and scrubbing, purging the shelves, chopping for soup pot, folding mounds of wearing things, no longer in the way of writing at all.  These tasks are a petri dish of the best of discoveries.  A greenhouse where the bud of good writing blossoms.  Routine motion in exchange for deep and profound thought. 

Our agreement. Writing, Mother Tasks and I.

How to Prevent Hoarding In Children

Once in awhile I do something just right.  The Mom job has left me with a steady drip, drip, drip of ‘what were you thinking, anyway?!’, so when I happen upon the rare ‘atta-boy’ for my parenting, I accept it.  Today as my 7 year old loaded toy after special toy into a Trader Joe’s paper bag, to the top and overflowing, it dawned on me that Butterfly is the last of our 4 kids to have passed the “am a share-er of nice and special things, am not a hoarder’ test.  As hoarding seems to run in parts of the family, it was one test I hoped they all would pass.  The kids have been natural savers of every little thing.  Ticket stubs from a special play, a glass bottle from an unusual soda, shells and stones and really cool pieces of wood. 

When trying to think through what might bring on hoarding, I had a couple questions: 

Might hoarding take root when I force my child to get rid of a thing?

If I discard my kids things when they aren’t looking,

might I create fear and an unhealthy protection over his or her things? 

Would it help to have my child pack up some items temporarily (for the attic), as a way to teach them to practice parting with something special for good?

With these questions in mind, when it came time to clean a bedroom or toy room heaped high with too much stuff, I’d ask the kids which toys they wanted to keep in their rooms, which they wanted to pack away for another time, and which toys they wanted to give away. 

First time around always took more time, they were little and putting a special toy into a box to be put away worried them… but I let them do this choosing and packing while supporting them.  Packing for the attic became familiar over time.  As each child learned that the things they had chosen to store in the attic could be retrieved again, the fear of packing up treasures faded. 

There are drawbacks. 

I had to release my need for an instant minimalist home and attic.

Release my desire for instant personal relief in exchange for

hopes that my kids would mature into open-handed individuals. 

The ideas above were important, but most importantly, when son or daughter wanted to give something away, I tried to never argue about what he or she wanted to part with.  I didn’t always do this perfectly.  Sometimes I didn’t like the idea of losing an expensive toy or book, special for whatever reason.  But I decided if I couldn’t bear to see a thing parted with, how would I ever expect my kids to learn what I was trying to teach.

Hoarders aren’t just junk collectors who don’t like to clean.  They sometimes extend kindness to an unwanted object, as if the thing were were a person.  Finding value in something that is about to be tossed.  Finding value and thinking themselves clever for having rescued it.  They also self sooth their own anxiety by saving an object, experience a feeling of relief and security holding onto a thing.  Difficulty with decision making can be part of the equation.  The more hoarding that takes place, the more difficult decision making becomes.  Some hoarders have a bit of maverick in them.  A bit of ‘ain’t nobody gonna tell me what to do.  I ain’t beholden to nobody.’  Owning things, a way to avoid buying or borrowing from another person, living in the fantasy of complete independence. 

Hoarding is no worse a break from the best than overeating or yelling at my kids.  It is, however, very debilitating and very isolating.  And is also somewhat socially acceptable.  We Americans in 2016 love our junk.  I don’t want that for my life, and don’t want that for my kids.  Objects are not able to provide what we really need.  We spend time dreaming and saving and buying the most recent really cool thing, telling our friends what we hope to buy one day, telling them what we have. And while we are consumed with our things, we miss it all.  Miss another catching our eye.  Stop reaching for the hand beside us, there to hold.  The hair for tousling.  I want my kids to realize that some of the nastiest thieves in life are really cool things.  Things are not people, do not carry feeling, and can not meet our deepest needs.  Surrounded by excess I forget to ask, am I comfortable?  My family, are they comfortable?

We long for vacation

surrounded mostly by air and dirt, mountain, river and each other 

Very few trappings. 

If we were to quiet our souls back home

ask what can be done to experience vacation inside our own four walls

much of what is special to us would have to go.

When a thing takes away from living life, it’s time to give it away to someone who will experience more blessing than curse.  I want my children to realize that even a thing with possible future value, something that might be used one day, if taking space in heart and home is a thing that holds more power than it should.

As I’m coming off of three years of being sick, house budging to the brim, finally able to load up bag after bag, Butterfly and Mr. All Business at my side, I’m thankful for what I part with.  Husband, children, Lincoln the dog and myself in this house, all more valuable than its contents.  Extra items, they gasp and choke out a full breath of life. 

Out! 

Away, you choking items of ownership! 

Come near, hands to hold, blond curls, happy paws. 

And together we carve out spaces of togetherness. 

Faded PJ’s

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This morning, through dawn light, sitting in the stillness of my early hour house, eyes yet to focus, I glance along the edging of my soft blue pajamas and I feel a smile creeping now.  Sleepy smile, I feel it spread about my heart and down into my bones.  The fade of pajamas blue hover about me all the day, and I whisper good things under my breath.  Hope that this newest pair of already faded pajamas will become faded, no, just straight ratty.  That they will grow very old until they are ribbons of happy nothing. 

Crisp new pajamas.  I’ve grown to not like them much.  They come to me to be placed in suitcase packed for a hospital every time.  Some of the hospital visits are beautiful.  Baby boy brought home, precious and perfect.  Pajamas that didn’t fit me before, and body too much a mess to wear after.  That pair stayed nice for years. To the hospital for another baby, this time, a perfect tiny daughter.  I’d not remembered to think of pajamas for me. She had arrived before I’d expected, a month early.  Hadn’t packed a thing.  Other than things for her.  Her cotton pink footie-pajamas were washed, folded, held close against my cheek, folded again.  Ready months before.  My friend had thought of me when I had forgotten.  She brought to the hospital a lovely nightgown of soft pink and white, smocked and pleated, buttons down front.  I loved that nightgown.  I wore it year after year.  Don’t remember whatever became of it.  I’m guessing it was loved into shreds and threads as I rocked and fed, made a lap for two babies, a lap for reading and holding and spit up and …. Another baby years later.  And another. Pajamas packed and used until they were no more. 

As of late, pajamas for the suitcase bound for harder hospital stays.  Visits of cuts and drains, blood draws, parts removed, another cancer, another procedure, another and another. 

New pajamas. 

No thank you. 

I want to see how long the fade will keep on fading. 

Will the blue of light seem more white than blue?  I’m hoping so.  I could buy new ones for no particular reason.  And then I wouldn’t be needing another special book for my son on how to build something from nothing.  I wouldn’t be needing running shoes for me, or another hydrangea for my gardener girl, wouldn’t need to save for a night out with my best friend. I’d be too cut off from life to be buying sheet of music to practice with my girls.  I’d be winding down to dead, and I don’t want that. 

I really love how faded these pajamas have gotten.  Their worn down look speaks to how long it’s been since I’ve made a visit to the chopping block.  Long enough to make new fabric old.  Long enough to grow some strength on the legs that wear these pajama pants.  Fabric fades faster than it use to, I think.  Or my machine has more gusto than it use to.  In any case, time has passed without another reason for new pajamas, and I’m hoping my healthy full life thins them down to nothing at all.  I’m hoping.    

Mops and Dirt

A special mop has come into my life.  Such happiness.  A mop able to bolt me out of bed, race me toward kitchen floor for one more scrubbing.  Fan turned to high to erase all evidence before giant feet, medium sized feet, little feet and a pair of paws arrive for one more day of mess making.1004513_10152108847809307_93194406_n  Granted, this mop has special powers.  It comes with built in bucket elongated the length of the handle, a tank of mixture (oxiclean,bleach and water). No need to fill a sink for dipping mop into.  I have a mop camelback of sorts, with a squirt function just above the mop pad which, by the way is velcro like, and removable!

I hate a sticky floor, and for some reason I have never been able to keep it straight for any length of time.  My reasons are many.  Good reasons such as our kids are hungry 75 times a day rather than the mythical 3. Lets see.  There’s the tap shoes that can be used only on the tile, and don’t you realize that floor tapping is so much more fun while using the hula hoop that accidently crashes into the dogs dish!  Just when I’m asking a certain Little Miss to clean it up, the doorbell rings and her long lost neighbor who she hasn’t seen for 3 whole days is bouncing up and down screaming right along her in celebration of finally seeing each other again.  How can I ever stop such sheer happiness, and so I lean down to scoop up dog food while below in the yard they are bounding, racing, jabbering just because they’re together.  In the middle of that task I think to myself, I’d better mop, too. Heading to the pantry where I keep the mop, I remember a niece in bootcamp I haven’t written to in a week or two, and I know if I don’t stop everything I’m doing right now and get it done, it won’t happen for months.  Sitting down at kitchen table, I tell her about swim team for one cousin.  The fish he caught on vacation.  The lawn mowing business he works at.  I tell her about another cousin of hers working at Olive Garden, singing Gershwin with me last night, just for the fun. Tell her of the adventures of Little Miss.  Forts built, the cooking, the reading skills she’s acquiring.  I tell her tales of work life at Boeing for Uncle.  The walks I take with clients.    Address on envelope, stamp intact, I better take this to box or it will never be sent.

Oh no, it’s time to feed the kids again.  

And so it goes, until the whole day through is consumed with ways of ruining my floor. Happy sticky floors.  By time the mess makers of all sizes are tucked into bed I can hardly take a step.  But try, I do, to sweep and mop, for starting tomorrow out really nice, with feet bare stepping across unscathed soft surface.  And as I stirr early morning, house mostly quiet but for husbands noising sleep-breathing, a ticking clock beside my bed, I just can’t help myself.  Makes not a bit of sense at all.  The floors have not been touched since I mopped them last.  Still, I think one more sweep and mop will do no harm toward the cause.  Stealthy sneaking out of cotton sheets, through bedroom door, down the stairs to kitchen floor, I sweep and mop, frizzled hair a-flying, fast I work.  The last edge swiped up, the fan now on, I hear feet on the floor.  It will be dry by the time toes arrive.   Yeah!!!  I did it.

 

Why Bark?

Moon

When I step out in dark of night

the air a frost

my breath comes white

glow moon above

crunch under foot

seasons acting as they should

i ask myself

why should I bark

at active kids

all pink and strong from days on sled

who, as we speak

are blaring tunes

from Jungle Book?

Amelia

Watching You

Holding onto giant warm hand with cold hand small, we walk, he and I, out the door into a hot summer morning, kind of slow we go, to little old Honda green. And make our way blue sky day to hospital waiting. Twenty-one years ago today. Crazy. Back then life was all about me and Adored Husband. Our educational goals. Me and my uncomfortable body, stretched beyond a beauty bump. He and his sunburned ears from too many hours on hot roof. Me and my sleep, he and his sleep. Me and my feelings about he and his feelings. We and our dreams for the future. You were part of those dreams, but they were still my dreams about me and Dad how you’d fit into them.

Then a morning passed, and an early afternoon, and here you were, as beautiful as they get. Tiny and all intact. And here I was, could not take eyes off you. Any little thing you might have ever wanted or needed was offered before you asked for it. Dad couldn’t take his eyes off you, either! We hardly slept, days on end – just sat in dark of night watching you sleep, watching you eat, watching you watch us. That’s about the time Dad starting saying “He have ourselves some 24 hour entertainment!” We were just ridicules over you. We couldn’t help it. The way you recognized Dad’s voice the first moment we spent with you, as he said some words to you, and you turned and looked right at him. How in the world had we been blessed with such a child?

Days and months went by. Every little eye sparkle, little soft sounds you made, we didn’t want to forget your baby ways. You could not roll or crawl yet, but I’d lay you on your side, and roll a soft blue ball to you, and no mistaking it.. you used your hand to roll the ball back to me. Three months you were, and rolling a ball back and forth to me on the soft blue carpet of the travel trailer floor where we lived. Oliver the cat made you chuckle deep in your chest, which made Dad and I howl with laughter. We’d always stop what we were doing when the cat came your way to listen to you do your hilarious gleeful chuckle at Oliver.

It was hard to hear you at night when you woke up and wanted fed because you were not a bawler. You made your request for whatever you wanted in a quiet way. Onetime Dad and I almost took you to the doctor because you cried for maybe 30 minutes, we had never heard you do that before. Later we realized we’d had you out and about too long, and you had just gotten over-exhausted.

When you were 9 months old, Sis was on her way. I was very nauseated. And now I was worried about having another baby. How could I possibly love the next baby like I had loved you? Shocking, but it was not a problem. When she arrived, I was sleepless and smitten all over again. A gorgeous beauty girl, taking our breath away, her own little person, and so strikingly lovely. More night and day watching, not wanting to miss a thing. You were an amazing big brother. It took years for you two to start scraping at each other. I think it was middle school. And by the time high school came along, you were back to what you had always been. A very supportive brother to your sister. Working for hours with her on tennis and encouraging her to hang out with you while you played golf, one hole after another, taking her into following you hole after hole, until you’d managed 18 holes on Lobo Ridge.

Baby All Mr. Business arrived, another beautiful baby we couldn’t keep our eyes off, – 10 years apart you boys are, and yet you were gracious about the age difference and from the time he was very young, found things the two of you could enjoy together. When you left for college, I thought All Mr. Business would adjust quicker than he has. We are going on three years, and he still cries at night sometimes, missing the brother who shared his room every night all his life, talking into the darkness they did, talking their boy talk, and now your bed is covered with an 11 year old’s stockpile of air-soft, cap, cross-bow, water, sling and other such weaponry, and no brother, and sometimes the sting of it makes for salty-wet tears pushed back with fist.

When Butterfly, yet another precious dolly for not missing one thing came along, you were 16. An awkward age for dealing with a baby sister at home, and though that be the case, the two of you could not be more alike. She is the female version of you. Always in trouble for being too happy, bouncing through her day, hardily annoying her careful brother working hard on some project, she hearing little of what in going on around her for the busy thoughts she is engaged in, flinging, skipping, bounding with her happy self around the world of five while he screeches at her to JUST STOPPPPP IT!!!! She hurts, I mean aches with sadness when we drive away from Montana goodbyes. The hysterical sobs of parting are just a fraction of how much she loves you and misses you being home to follow you everywhere, ride shoulders around Seattle on damp foggy Christmas night, chatter your ear off, share your time and “just a little taste” of your coffee.  She has Sis this summer, it was been a treasure as they have roomed together again as always, have told Alonna Grace stories, shared the closet space and laughter a few months.

This weekend we squished ourselves into the Prius, five of us, to come see you.  See your apartment, see you hike up a mountain.  Watch you show us how to hammock, watch you drive a golf ball to as far as can be driven, still sleepless for the sake of watching the wonder of our kids. Twenty-one years ago, life circled around my life and Dad’s life. Today after dinner we sneak out door, monopoly game in motion, we hope kids don’t notice:) Giant warm hand holds cold hand small and round the loop we walk, hashing and rehashing ways to transport selves from here to where you are.

Mom