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Archive for November, 2011

My bully pulpit

I do not understand how parents can see pictures of kids like Ashlynn Conner and still say “kids are just being kids.” How can any parent not imagine what it would be like to never hold their own child again, over something that could–and should–have been stopped a hundred times over?

Taunt. Bully. Beat. Molest.

Ugly words for uglier actions, all inspired by the same beast: want of power.

These words aren’t just words for me. They’re images and memories, heartbreak and resolve.

When I hear the word “bullying,” I think of the parents who told my mom she was a horrible mom, comfortably and confidently in the vicinity of me and their own children.

When their children taunted and belittled in turn, it was hardly surprising. Like parent, like child.

It was clear to me that it boiled down to power. “Power” was being able to do these horrible things and just call it the natural order of things.

Someday, I vowed, I would be so powerful no one would dare try establishing dominion over me by coercion or cruelty.

I was in sixth grade the last time I was bullied by anyone who knew me.

I wasn’t bullied often before that thanks to what the class clown deemed my “hurkin’” muscles, but a few boys were undeterred. Read more…

FTIAT: Take A Sip

Tori (The Ramblings) snared me immediately with her simultaneously exuberant and deeply considered posts. This combination of traits, only seldom seen traveling as such constant companions in the wilds of blogland, is enthralling enough, but do you suppose the magic stops there?

Not a chance! The fact she’s having her blog readers help plan her wedding is sure to have you wanting to know more, and be a part of that joy.

Recommended post: R & R (And R)

Take a Sip

“For myself I am an optimist – it does not seem to be much use being anything else.” – Sir Winston Churchill

I stood at the mouth of the ocean. The salt brushed loose from the breeze. Sand wrapped my toes. A baby babbled in the background. Just hushing wave, a child’s laughter, hushing wave, whirling winds, a child’s brilliant happiness. This is the best kind of  lullaby, I thought. I love everything here.

I eyed a man to my left. I decided to call him Burt as it sounded sufficiently grumpy, and Grumpy, you will learn, was the pouty sir’s middle name. He was one man, a fuming island one slip of a tight jaw away from spewing hatefulness into pristine waters. His flimsy, red knickers suggested a playful side. His furious brow did not. Some minutes passed- him shooting angst from his eyeballs, me holding a head cocked like a concerned poodle. I waited for Playful Burt to invite us all for a leisurely game of volleyball. This never happened.  I wondered if a hug would fix him right. Maybe a note tucked into his fanny pack could lighten his load? It would read: Perk up, Buttercup. Your glass ain’t half empty at the edge of this here ocean. Take a sip, fool. Take it all in. Your cup done runneth over. He threatened to rip paper from the seam with each flip of his book’s pages. He scoffed a bit, bothered by the natural beauty of it all, I suppose. I knew in that moment that for Burt the sun was too sunny, the sand too sandy, the saltwater too damned salty, and the child’s giggles so infuriating and giggly he could spit. I was sad to watch this stranger take his glass-so blatantly ready to spill over lip- and toss it aside, most certain that it held nothing for him.  I peeled my feet from their borough on the beach and vacationed on to celebrate this good life elsewhere.

A week later, I am stuck in the mouth of a yellow slide. My son, the ever-adventurous toddler, has stopped for a rest mid-swirl. A line of antsy children fuss to at the top. A crowd of peeved parents fuss at the bottom. And I laugh. Oh, I laugh! My son giggles in time to my guffaws. The yellow slide vibrates with hilarity, and for a moment it is just me and my boy, tinted in the slide’s sunny shades and laughing at the echos of our laughter. Once regurgitated from the plaything, he runs past the pissy crowds towards the next best thrill the playground has to offer. States away from that awe of ocean, we find enough good in a muddy puddle. The dirt brushes loose from the breeze. Sweet smells of grass wrap my nose. A baby splashes in the background. Whoosh goes the swing, a child’s laughter, whoosh goes the swing, sun filters through every bone, a child’s brilliant happiness. I love everything here.

I look back to spot one mama still scrutinizing from a distance. Our pleasure, it seems, brings her greatest displeasure. For whole minutes she scornfully glances at us. It seems our lack of proper slide etiquette is close to unforgivable. Her children, gloriously golden-haired and delighted to play in the dirt are told to hush, to move, to cut it out. She is a gorgeous thing, slim and tan and lovely save for that soured purse of her lips. As one child ventures too deep in the dirt, she swipes them up, yanking and pulling the surprised tots towards the parking lot.  Her one woman Circus of Fluster flies homeward in a luxury SUV. Maybe a note tucked into her diaper bag could lighten her load? It would read: Perk up, Buttercup. Your glass ain’t half empty when you’re double-fisting those there sippy cups. Take a sip of the good juice, fool. Take it all in. Your sippy cup done runneth over. 

I check my e-mail as The Slide Scaler sleeps. A message from a fellow blogger asks for what I am grateful. Naturally, I make a list of people, places, things and more things. Health, Motherhood, Sunshine, Diet Coke. I love everything.

Then my hand detaches from my brain and scribbles Burt and Angry Lexus onto the page. How can I be grateful to perfectly volatile strangers? Before I know it I have added Cysts, Scars, Abortion, and Poor to the list. Awful, awful things for which I am filled with thanks? I promptly ask myself to shut up, but then I look closer.

It took those angry faces to teach me how not to live.

It took meals of crackers and Coke to appreciate a meal cooked, a bill paid, a bank account cushioned.

It took years of health scares to cling so fiercely to the fortune of good health.

It took one miserable abortion, scars on skin and so deep down to bone to wipe me clean, to finally greet my son and tell him immediately and forever that this life, this life is so heartbreaking and good.

It took an e-mail from a blogger to make me realize that above all else I am grateful for my glass.

Some mysterious thing, some place or time, some experience or person thought  in the darkest and lightest times to hand me a glass so dry and convince me that it would never, ever be empty. When, where and how this discovery smacked me I will never know, but I seem built to believe that it will never be empty.  At the mouth of the ocean, in the throat of a snaking slide, I am simply thankful to be thankful.

last : Seven Days | Life is Like an Empty Box of Chocolates (Because I Ate Them All) : next

FTIAT: Seven Days

Kasey (Single Working Mom) writes about life exactly as she lives it, addressing maddening, depressing and uplifting matters alike with candor and grace. What gets written on her blog is only half the magic of following her blog, though; the remainder falls into the equally candid email exchanges we would never have begun but for her blog! I am always delighted to read her words, no matter which forum they reach me through. 

Recommended postA Visit with Dad

Seven Days

All week long I was living in the town of Anxiety.  Stressed to the gills about taking my daughter, Maycee, down to Grandma’s for the rest of the week, while she was sick, for a “vacation” we had planned long ago before summer began.  She had a myriad of illnesses hit her at one time, two emergency room visits; I had already missed two days of work, preparing myself to miss more if her fever didn’t subside.  After a follow-up visit with the pediatrician, ear infection was gone, her fever was denounced as not much to worry about, and the cold, well, it was just a cold.   With the game plan in place to proceed with grandma’s visit if the doc said all systems go, we were in the car, bags packed with Blanky, Bluey, and Crystal Kitty, heading south to meet her dad for pickup and transport.  Maycee was excited to be going, ready to have some change of scenery after four days couch-ridden at home, but within a short amount of minutes she was crashing out in the back seat, tired and plainly spent.

I am blessed.  My daughter does not get sick often.  Perhaps over seven and half years she has been really sick—REALLY SICK—about three other times.  The last one was pneumonia/croup that took us to the emergency room when she was three years old.  I was separated from her dad then, but still living within a close distance to him as well as other family.  I worked mainly from home along with two other part-time day jobs that were not very restricting at all to parenting.  I was able to be at home with her without much concern or fear, knowing all jobs could do without me just fine.  It was a different time and a different place, a different life.  It seems like another world away, really.  She recovered from that scary illness in about a week.  Not too long, and with marked progress.  This time, at this age, the same end result was not occurring, and I now live two and half hours away from her father and my family, work a day job, 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, and manage all life’s complexities in isolation.

I had so many ideas for this guest post.  In fact, I had settled on one FTIAT subject with emphatic decisiveness, mulling over what details I would include, how beautifully I could string the concepts together…hmmmmm…but that just wouldn’t be me.  Not in the blogosphere.  Not in my head.  Because of this: when I grasp the hour or two I steel for myself to write I MUST simply write what is pressing on my heart at that very moment.  I could be no truer to those reading if I did not write this way.  And, the blogs I gravitate toward do the same.  I will say this then, I’m fairly certain I will one day post my original FTIAT planned subject matter when it hits me…But today, for this guest entry it boils down to this: DRUMROLL PLEEEEEEEEAAAASSSSEEEEE…

I AM SO VERY THANKFUL FOR MY DAUGHTER, MAYCEE.

She made it through the week at Grandma’s with a lot of difficulty but some recovery.  Then, it was off to her dad’s for the weekend.  All totaled I was away from her for seven days.  Seven days too many.  As a single working mom I certainly cherish a few quiet moments “childless”.  I scramble to get chores done or tackle a larger house project that I’ve had to put off.  I sleep in (if I’m not under guilty duress) until 8AM and slowly drink a warm cup of coffee rather than quickly drink half of one, cold.  But, if you put a hidden camera in my home during my first night of imposed “freedom” this is what you’d see (fictitiously narrated by any of your favorite announcers):

There she is, Kasey.  She’s just standing there.  In the middle of her living room.  Looking around.  What’s she looking at?  Oh, there she goes, now she’s going to the kitchen.  Wait, she’s back.  She’s back in the middle of the living room.  Staring.  At the walls?  It’s midnight.  Why doesn’t she go to bed?  What is she doing?

Because without my daughter there is too much space for me.  Because without the hours filled to the brim of 9:00 at night with work, camp, childish whining, scolding, questions, giggles, and hugs I hardly know what to do with myself until a day or so has passed.   This I’ve come to recognize with immense gratitude!   I’m so very thankful that I do not live solely for my own self any more.  That although this single mom-hood life isn’t what I’d wanted or planned for, I wouldn’t trade it for anything if it meant not having my little one.  I wouldn’t want to go back to a life where the world revolved around memyselfandi.   Other mommy-friends say, “Oh, I would love it if I could have a few days to myself.  It’d be so nice.”  Sure it would. Sure it is.  I need re-charging; we all do.   But more-so than the pleasure of solitary confinement, when I’m away from Maycee for days or a week at time it reinforces my sense of gratitude for this amazing gift I’ve been given.  I’m a mom, I’m a mom, I’M A MOM!  Rejoice and be glad in it! HALLELUJAH!

I picked Maycee up today at 4:10PM.  The hours did not move quickly enough for me.  I called her every day she was away; sometimes twice.  I parented through Grandma and her dad by phone.  I wanted to climb through the receiver to give her hugs, give her medicine, give her all of me, but I couldn’t, so I’d say, “Can you feel it?  This is Mommy giving you a hug. MMMMMMMMMMHMMMMMMMMM!”  She’d reply, “Ooooooh, that was a good one, Mommy!  I could feel it!”    I picked up Maycee today, and when I got into that McDonald’s parking lot she was holding her dad’s hand until she saw me.  Then, the smile grew bigger and bigger, and she let go of Dad’s hand in anticipation.  I quickly parked the car, jumped out, and grabbed my girl.  Crying, I hugged her so tight, told her I loved her, how much I missed her.  This time even more than the rest, if that is possible, because I had to trust her recovery within the village it takes to raise a child-not my own hands.  She said to me, hugging me back, “I missed you, too.”  And, I was so very, incredibly thankful she is mine, and I am hers: Maycee’s mommy.  HER ONE AND ONLY MOMMY.

This drive home there was no Scooby Doo movie playing in the backseat, no DSi games going, barely any music.  Just loads of relief and love you could feel through the seats and carpet and windows of the car.  Talking, catching up, as if we didn’t talk fast enough we’d lose our breath.  Mother and Daughter.  Laughter that swelled with each mile until we reached the Yellow Submarine, and Maycee said, “I’m going to let you get out of the car and get to the door first so I can run right in [to our home, that is]!”  And For This I Am Thankful.

I am also thankful for you, Readers.  In this life, today, be happy, and as always, give a chuckle.

last : A Moment of Clarity | Take A Sip (11/18/11) : next

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