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Posts Tagged ‘family’

We are in the 27-days when the boys are only one year (and 11 months) apart in age. So I have a 14- & a 13- year-old in the house. Yes, that much teenage boy in my house.

Messy bedrooms, weird hours, food bill through the roof. And I am the dumbest person on Earth-I know NOTHING according to my sweet boys.

It doesn’t help that they are both 5 or 6 inches taller than me.

And I confess-Hubby buys me secret food and I hide it in my bedroom to make sure I get to have it. Otherwise I won’t get any. To borrow from Ross, I grew up with Monica. If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t eat.

I love my sons. They make me crazy, laugh, tired, and thankful.

#momofboys

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My experience with extended family ended in my early teens. Around 1982 was the last time I spent time with aunts, uncles, and cousins at a family holiday thing. I spent a few weeks with an uncle and his wife in ’85 or ’86, but I was miserable. Plus their kids were little, I was a teenager.

So I never got the whole cousin experience. When I hear people talk about the close bond, the fond memories, the shared times with cousins, I usually zone out a bit. I just have nothing to relate it to, nor do I have any stories to contribute. 

Hubby’s nieces and nephews really wanted cousins. We gave them two, and there is love between them. There’s also 25+ years between them, so not a lot in common. It didn’t give me much pause, I didn’t grow up with that whole cousin phenomenon either. But Hubby did.

Now I have my cousins back. And some of them have kids, closer in age to my boys. We finally get to have that cousin experience. We’re going to try to go up to Maine later this year to visit family up there and the boys asked if their cousins would be there. How cool is that?

The other day my one cousin messaged me about something she was watching on TV. Again, how cool is that? I was able to explain that the green mascot thing was the Philly Phanatic and then we discussed how the Baby Cakes Baby mascot could kick the muppety Phanatic’s ass.

We talk on the phone…just because. How amazing is this? I get it now.

And I have aunts and uncles again! And they love me, they love my family. They are there for my dad, and it’s so great to see that. They are there for me. And I am there for them.

They waited 28 years for me to reconnect with my dad. 28 years. And my brother did it. Thanks to my brother, I know my little brother. Okay, he’s taller than me, but who isn’t?

And the love is unconditional. There’s no resentment. No reservations. Just love.

I am blessed. And I am thanking my brother, as I did when he brought us all back together, even now as I am missing him. And through my brother’s perseverance, I have aunts, and uncles, and cousins, oh my, helping me as I grieve losing him.

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I miss him. That’s the long & the short of it. It’s a better place than I’ve been. I’ve been angry. Sad. Resentful. In denial. Regretful.

I’m still angry at church & God. I finally made it through an entire service last Sunday and that was only because my sons were holding me up, along with the Spirit. I had my phone completely silenced on that day almost four months ago because I was at church. I didn’t see the text till about an hour later. I’m making myself leave my phone in the dining room. That’s where I always put it at night. But, confession, I’ve taken to leaving it on vibrate now at church. I know, closing the barn door too late.

And it wouldn’t have changed anything. Only would have added an hour of grief. But still. And the Spirit is patient. Will hold me up till I’m ready.

There were so many things my bro & I talked about doing, making up for lost time. There are so many familial wounds this has opened that sometimes I just sit and cry. And when I stop crying, I just sit, numb, unable to form a thought because I don’t know how to sort this much pain out. So I bury it down, get through my day.

I focus on my sons. I focus on my dog. I focus on the cats, when they let me. I lean heavily on Hubby, who is so patient and understanding. He knew from the get-go what he was signing up for and I haven’t disappointed yet.

I laughed, really laughed, for the first time last week or so. The dress scene in Bridesmaids, which I finally watched. Of course that same week, one of my supervisors walked by during one of those crying situations, the one when I can’t even form a word. I get paid for working with words. Not a good thing for your boss to witness, being completely incapacitated from forming a sentence.

This is one of the sentences I recently managed to form about my grief.

While it is not all through death, I have no one from my late childhood/teenage family left. In the span of eighteen months.

I know I have gained so much family back and I am blessed with that. I love them all so much. 

But there is still a lot of loss to work through. I wish I could be glib. Just say screw it, at least about some of it. Not my bro. Not Bearpaw. But to be glib would lessen what I have gained. That would demonstrate a major change in who I am. Then I wouldn’t deserve the future happiness with the family I’ve reconnected with. It would not mean the same.

I also want to learn from all of this. I want to be a strong, compassionate mother who loves her sons unconditionally. I want to love true & unconditionally in all of my relationships. So there are lessons to be learned.

But right now, as I pretend to sleep until I finally pass out for a few hours, as I have every night for almost four months, I simply miss my bro. I still had his message from last year’s Mother’s Day on my cell. I listened to it last week. Clearly never erasing that. It was nice to hear his voice, filled with love.

I miss my bro.

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My pastor gave me a book about grieving. I like the approach so far. It said in very plain language that when you suffer loss, it brings back to light previous losses attached to the recent loss.

That was a mouthful.

In losing my brother, it brought to light, in a bright glaring, white spotlight, so many losses over the past three decades. Some are very tiny, others are huge. They have impacted my entire adult life, the way I approach and work on my marriage, the way I raise my sons, the way I try to be the person I want to be.

Sometimes I’m tired of trying to be the person I think I should be. I see so many who just seem to glide through life, or others who really don’t seem, from my perspective, to be giving their all, or doing things as honestly or as ethically as could be done, and I sit and throw myself a little pity party. Then I pick myself up and remind myself that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I did things any other way in my life.

Of course, I’m not sleeping well at the moment anyway, so I guess now would be the time to not follow the straight and narrow. I wonder how others do it. Make choices, knowing the bad ramifications it will have on others, and yet they still make those choices. Everyone knows someone like this. Every family has at least one person who is a bull in a china shop, not caring what damage is created as long as things go the way they want.

But the problem there is that damage is done. The person who suffers the damage may take years to recover from it, whether it be emotional, physical, or financial damage. And the person who caused it often seems to be living a glorious life, with minimal worry, or in some cases there is worry, but truly it was created by their own actions. That to me is just melodramatic worrying and they are reaping what they sowed. Sleeping in the bed they made. All those other clichés.

So since I try to bury so much during the day so coworkers don’t think I’m a total freak, it bubbles to the surface at night. Actually, on the commute to and from work. It just rises up to the front of my brain, and the emotions overwhelm me and I cry. Ugly cry. I was ugly crying in my cube today. Just this overwhelming sensation of what have I done? What is causing this shit-storm in my life? When will something go a little bit better? Some sign of the winds of change, and not another nor’easter. I’ve had enough emotional nor’easters this year. And losing my brother has stirred up so many squalls I don’t know what to do with them.

I’m journaling. Part of the reason the posts have been so lax. There has been shit going down since November. Then losing him two months ago just intensified the existing situations. In one sense, it gave perspective. I do not care nor do I have time to play those bullshit drama games, but in grieving him, I grieve the loss of others who are still living, but have stated how my choices will cause me to burn in hell.

It’s odd. The ones who are still living, I don’t miss them. Perhaps because they always want to remind me that I’m going to burn.

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It breaks my heart sometimes that fairy tales aren’t taught as frequently in schools anymore. These amazing stories survived oral storytelling to eventually be culled and catalogued within so many countries, each putting their own spin on them. It seems though that here in America, we have no time for them unless they have been Disneyfied. There’s nothing overtly wrong with the Disney versions, but children, even adult children in college, don’t always realize that the stories are much older than the Ears would have you think. They didn’t make them up, and they usually change them to suit their needs, image, and marketing goals. What could be more American than that?

Without learning the old versions of the fairy tales, children miss out on learning about story telling, classic characters, and in some cases, a good fright. But I digress.

I did grow up reading fairy tales. I’ve read them to my sons, and not the watered down versions. I read the Zipes translations to my boys. I’ve taught the Zipes versions in one of the courses I taught for several years. I love fairy tales, particularly the Grimm versions. And as I have been trying to work through some pretty heavy shit in my life, I finally happened upon something that is helping me start to sort it all out. It is based in the archetypes and symbolism that run rampant in fairy tales, and while I’m no Bettelheim, it’s working for me.

HanselandGretel

Imagine if you will Hansel and Gretel. They are brought into the forest by their father and mother. They are poor, and the mother’s plan is to abandon the children in the forest. Not nice, I know. But we’re moving past that to another point in the story. The first try, the children outwit their mother and drop pebbles so they can find their way home in the moonlight. But the second time they drop breadcrumbs which get eaten by sweet woodland critters. No way to get home. Wander, wander, wander until a house made of candy, gingerbread, and delectable delights. The little old lady seems harmless enough. Plus, she wants to feed poor Hansel and Gretel and help them in their time of need.

Now imagine that H&G get trapped in the moment of being helped for years, decades. They know only the reality of what is told to them by the old lady, who is really a witch (and who some scholars theorize is also the mother). They completely buy into what she says because they know no “other”. It seems pretty cool, good food, light chores, she’s occasionally crabby, but still lots of sugar. They see snapshots of her in her true form, a witch, over the years, but they aren’t completely sure. They are also wrapped up in their own lives, as children tend to be. But she’s generally kind so they trust what she says to be truth.

Well, Hansel gets out. Not in the best way, but still he’s out. Over the years, he returns for a visit or two, but now the old lady/witch knows he knows “other” stuff, “other” truths. In her head, he can’t be trusted. He might tell Gretel that the old lady’s true plan is to eventually cook and eat Gretel. A plan that he escaped.

Now imagine decades later, Gretel escapes. She starts learning “other” stuff, “other” truths. Imagine the shock, imagine discovering that the old lady/witch was feeding her lies along with the candy for all those many years. Imagine her reconnecting with her brother, her family, and discovering the “other” life she could have had. How long would it take each of them to resolve all this new information? How long would it take to quell the “what if” questions and move forward from bitterness, anger, and regret for what could have been?

Hansel and Gretel would have two completely distinct realities that they had lived in. The one reality, the one of the old lady/witch, would be a false reality within the true reality. The strength of which was only ever as strong as the gingerbread house. Once they got out of there, the false reality starts to crumble, disintegrate. But so much damage was already done. Their sense of being and sense of value would be totally skewed. It would shape their perspectives for the rest of their lives. Each would have to work very hard to remember that not everyone is like the old lady. They can trust, they can love. They can celebrate their successes, learn from their mistakes, and lean on the rest of their family for support. Family who never gave up hope, always prayed to see them again, and always held love in their hearts for Hansel and Gretel.

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These last two weeks before the anniversary of Bear’s death feel much like the first two weeks after his death in that horrific car accident. Once again, the image of Bear when I identified his body haunts my days and nights. The memories of planning his service, communicating with the funeral home, cleaning out his car, comforting the boys-they are swirling in my head, seemingly 24 hours a day right now. Emotions about decisions beyond my control are swelling up inside of me all over again.

I’ve driven through the accident site several times now in my travels, and on the 16th I will drive through it twice. After the second time, we will continue to the cemetery to pay Bear a visit, tell him we love him and miss him. Leave some carnations for him to look down on and smile at.

I don’t imagine that life will resume normalcy without Bear on July 17th, having worked my way through the first year. I’m fully aware that life is forevermore different. I know he wants me to be happy, to not spend time missing him, but loving those around me. And I am working on letting go to do that more fully.

I lost a lot when Bear died, more than meets the eye. My family of origins’s dynamic went through quite a metamorphosis.

But…I have a deeper appreciation for my friends who are my family, for extended family. I have had reunions in the past year that I never thought would happen and have more reunions to look forward to in the coming months. I’ve made peace with many aspects of my personal history. I am exploring my early childhood that I had tucked away. While I do have many difficulties in remembering much from then because of the schizophrenia, it is neat to hear stories. Not that schizophrenia causes memory loss, I just didn’t pay attention to everything as well because of the delusions and hallucinations. It’s cool having gaps filled in.

Hubby, Sons, and I will be visiting New Orleans soon. I haven’t been there since the 70’s when my family moved from my hometown. I’m taking risks that I wouldn’t have before because each day is so precious and why spend each day tired, drained, frustrated? I come home from work now and I have energy to spare. I yell less (although the boys would disagree after the past few days, hence why I’m blogging first thing after work, to clear my head). Little projects around the house are finally being finished, some were started three or four years ago, others I just started because I finally finished the old ones!

It still hurts, I still miss Bear dearly, I still want one more hug from him. Still, I am learning how to tuck that away in my heart and to focus on my many blessings. To let go of things I cannot control. To set boundaries to end useless, painful cycles. To focus on the love surrounding me in so many ways. To be open and ready for the way family and friends show up when you didn’t even know how much you needed them.

 

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Sadness, heartache, grief, worry, concern, some more sadness, frustration, anger, are all emotions and feelings I have had as a parent.  I worry about my sons everyday and everyday they find new ways to give me attitude.They are experts at that now and deliver it with such finesse they should offer training workshops on it for other kids.  They always seem to know just how to dig in and make my heart weep just a little bit.  The angry “I know, Mom” response is probably my favorite because it’s rife with the conflict they are feeling.  They do know I am right, and they hate it.  They do know that they know better, and they hate that probably more than they hate me being right.  They get so frustrated that they forgot to make the better choice again.

So I pray every morning on the way to work that they will have good experiences at school each day.  They will make the better choice when facing tricky situations.  They will remember that they are 11 and 9 and should be having fun in their childhoods and not take it too seriously.

They don’t call me anymore after school.  They are too big for that.  Which means when I get home around 6:15 we get to have the conflict about homework, again.  I wish I could make them have the realization that they could have their homework done by 4:30 if they choose to, but I can’t.  So that means resistance when I get home since I want it completed and they want to keep riding their razor ripstiks.  Only one of us can win this battle, and it usually is me, and this is a battle to win.  Smaller ones I let go because the adage is true, you have to choose your battles.

Because at the end of the day, when they are asleep in their beds, and you can still see the baby inside the boy, parenting sucks a little more love into your heart, and it sucks a little more breath away as you listen to them breathe.  Parenting sucks a little bit of cynicism out of your system every day as you listen to their conversations, without them knowing because jeez, Mom, you wouldn’t understand, and you hear the optimism coming from their minds and souls.  It sucks a little bit of your learned prejudices and behaviors out of your system as you remember that these are learned aspects of life.  It sucks a little bit of the tiredness you feel after working all week and infuses you with energy to see their smiles when they wake up in the morning, thinking of the important things in life: playing with Legos, riding a skateboard, staring at the clouds, making your cat dance, picking a flavor of ice cream at White Dotte, arguing who is better, Iron Man or Spiderman, and creating magical treasures using only glue, yarn, and popsicle sticks.  These are some of the secrets they don’t tell you about parenting.

That and the amazingly high number of times you will hear the word “poop” in a day.

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