I am a mother
First, foremost and forever
Deep love realized.
I am a mother
First, foremost and forever
Deep love realized.
Life is a four letter word
So is love……………..
I find I cannot do this post justice today as there are so many emotions that bubble to the surface, but I still felt I had to commemorate the day:
Twenty-seven years ago today I welcomed my first-born son into the world. Welcomed though is such a calm and happy word and in this context it does not tell the whole story.
Adam was born 11 weeks prematurely. He was obviously in a rush to come into this world, but in his rush, I did not get to hold him for at least a month after he was born. I visited him in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) for those four weeks, and was only able to touch him through the holes of his incubator. And then it was only to brush a finger along his tiny arm, or touch his leg ever so lightly. I decorated his incubator with cards and cut-outs and little stuffed animals. My mom knit him the tiniest of hats and booties to wear with his cut in half diaper (whole diapers were huge for his 2 pound 5 ½ ounce little body).
So many memories—some frightening, some wonderful—but the end result is that today he is a healthy thriving 27 years old. A basketball player, a musician, a reader, a boyfriend to a lovely girl/woman, a man with so much potential—and it is potential he will reach and surpass.
Of course, I am his mother, and I am proud of him. I remember the journey to get here—and though life is not pure bliss—having survived and come through to tell this happy story today is.
A service has been invented through which you can send messages to people in the future. To whom would you send something, and what would you write?
This is a timely prompt from lovely Michelle at WordPress, as I have not been looking forward to my upcoming birthday in April. I have come to the realization that I will not be wandering this little place called earth for as many years as I have lived thus far. I am going to be 60 (sob, groan, ackkk!) and I am fairly sure I am not going to live another 60 years.
When I was younger, 60 was not something I could easily imagine–and when I did, I imagined that I had “arrived”; that I had reached my ultimate goals; that I would be ensconced in comfort.
It is not so much the age of 60 itself that has me bummed out–it is the fact that I only have so much time left to “arrive”. I am fighting the feeling that the book is closed and that my goals are unattainable, so I am going to write this letter to my sons in an effort to give them advice, and me some hope:
Dear Adam and Tyler;
As you read this, I am a vibrant 80 year old. I did not reach some of my goals until later in life, as I have always been a late bloomer. But along the way, I learned that even if I did not feel like I had been a “success” in the normal sense of the word, I reached success on many levels.
I found love with your dad; I found my maternal instincts as soon as I had you guys (it was an amazing transformation by the way as I did not know that I really wanted children until I had them); I worked at jobs I did not like; I worked at jobs I loved; I had a business of my own and learned that I would rather buy books than sell them; I learned how to be a “mother bear” advocate for you guys; I tried to learn to let go (even at this age, I am probably still struggling with that); I learned that family and friends can get you through anything; that losing your parents is rough but their voices stay with you; I have learned that success is not just financial (though it does make it easier); and I have learned that you should never give up.
As the two of you progress down the sometimes smooth, sometimes wretched path of life, keep in mind that in the end it is all worthwhile. You have seen your parents struggle, and now you see us comfortable in our own skins. Even though we are eighty, we live life as if there is no tomorrow, because as we all know, there may not be.
Live life well and fully. Enjoy good times even in the bad times. That old saying~this too will pass~is true, even though some things we would rather go away, do not go away fast enough.
You are loved, and my best successes! ~ Love mom
I know that this letter to my sons twenty years down the line has fallen into cliché but I do not care–clichés are there for us to use–and sometimes they do the job. I am looking for my bliss today–in twenty years I am certain I will have found it and put it to good use.
What would you say to your loved ones from your place of bliss?
This fine day after Valentine’s Day is being celebrated in a questionable manner in some corners of the world. I join the legions who do not like the commercialization of love, cheapening it by pressuring us into buying roses and diamonds and chocolates (seriously though how bad could a day be that supports chocolate?) But, are we so delicate that we cannot withstand this barrage?
Kudos for those of you who just ignore the hype. Equal kudos for those of you who enjoy it. No kudos for those of you who try to derail it by throwing anti-Valentine parties. The headline this morning in my local daily reads: “Kissers, Cuddlers Not Welcome”. A local bar is throwing an anti-Valentine’s Day party tonight and they have banned “public displays of affection” calling them “strictly taboo” at their annual event.
Most of us have loved and lost. Many of us are in wonderful relationships—but we remember when we weren’t. But is that any reason to be so anti-love? I am not really comfortable with public displays of affection at any time—but showing a little affection should not be eliminated for the sake of broken and jaded hearts. My favourite song was once the J. Geils Band’s “Love Stinks”. But it was a phase, and I did not resent those who had found love—in fact I found it heartening.
I say to those who are anti-Valentine—get over yourselves. There is no bliss in negativity. What do you think?
We all see them. Ignore them if you will. But little pink and red hearts have been floating around since mid-January, and what else could it mean other than that celebration that starts some hearts a-fluttering, and some hearts to drop.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with the day, depending on my relationship status. Some years I would ignore it, some years embrace it, and other years look on it as an annoyance. This year I will celebrate my 31st wedding anniversary, so I have come to blissful terms with it. But, I am still somewhat flummoxed by the fact that males are on the hook for this holiday for some reason, and females get a pass. It is a mystery.
I have decided to think of Valentine’s Day as I think of the month of February. I am not going to fight it. I have come to the comfortable conclusion that it is a day to show others that you care, a day to remind of us of romantic love—captured, lost, or remembered, and a day when we should look beyond the flowers and chocolates and jewellery to the heart, and to friendship, and to genuine caring.
Maribeau, a French revolutionary and journalist sums up my feelings on romantic love quite neatly. Call me a sceptic, a cynic, or a hopeless romantic, this is what he said:
“Love has the power of making you believe what you would normally treat with the deepest suspicion.”
So what do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you think Maribeau was right? Is Valentine’s Day a blissful day for you, or an annoyance?
This is a shortened version of my column for the newspaper:
Sometimes writers need prompts. Something to get the juices flowing. This morning a prompt from WordPress read: “A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.”
And do you know what immediately came to mind? The one room school house that I attended for the first four years of my school life. It was called Zion — and yes, we walked about a mile and a half to school (it seemed like five miles) but not in bare feet, or in ten feet of snow.
I cannot remember when the school was torn down, but whenever I pass the spot where it stood, a wave of nostalgia passes over me. I wish it were still standing, though if it were, it would probably have been turned into someone’s residence as so many of the smaller schools have been. Students who attended these schools were eaten up by either regional or town schools, but their experiences at the one room schools would never be lost.
I loved and hated that school. We were exposed to such a variety of kids that it really did stand us in good stead for a life that is made up of all kinds of people, and not just kids our own age. You learned how to cope, how to get along, and you learned that life was not always easy.
What I loved about the school was the fact that we were exposed to a unique learning experience. We learned our lessons, but were able to “listen in” on the lessons of the other grades, and if you were an eager student you garnered an education above your years. We did a lot of things together as a whole school. We played baseball together; we had a school choir where we competed at a yearly concert; we practiced for the yearly Christmas concerts together; and we exchanged names for Christmas gifts. You were just as likely to end up with some grade eight boy’s name, as the girl who sat next to you in your grade.
What I hated about the school were the things most students would hate about any school—if you were picked on, or you were not quite up to snuff in sports, or if you were the teacher’s pet. But those were all valuable learning experiences as well, if not the most pleasant. (I still remember being taught how to make an iceball—a snowball with ice in the middle that hurt like heck if you got hit with it.)
One of the best things about a one room school for me was that the teacher had to divide her time among all the grades, so when she was not teaching you, you had all the time in the world to do your lessons, then read as much as you wanted. Since I loved to read, this was a real bonus for me.
After grade four, I was moved to a regional school and put in a classroom of kids who were my own age. It was quite a transition. We had a teacher who was available to us all throughout the day, which was a good thing, but left little time to be on your own.
I am glad that I got to experience both ways of being educated. I would never give up the things I learned at the one room school house. To this day, I miss being able to see a piece of my history. The school was the same one my parents and aunts and uncles attended, and even some of my grandparents. It was the true essence of community.
I will never bid a fond farewell to Zion—it will always be fraught with sadness.
Where is the bliss? Not in the fact that the school was torn down, but in the fact that it was a piece of my history. What piece of your history is missing, but still remembered?
“Care to appear happy…..” ~ Saint Therese
Do you ever buy yourself Christmas presents? I do. One of my presents to myself this year is Gretchen Rubin’s book “Happier at Home”. I loved her first book, “The Happiness Project” so thought I would get this sequel of sorts.
In the December chapter of her book, she gives two particularly good pieces of advice. The first is taken from her favourite “obsession”, Saint Therese of Lisieux, whose philosophy entailed taking “care to appear happy and especially to be so.” (p. 116) This quote from the Saint who died young of tuberculosis, tells me that being happy is something we can conjure up, something that is within our control, no matter how we feel. We can be happy (or at least appear so) if we set our mind to it for the sake of others.
The other piece of advice Gretchen provides in this chapter is extremely timely. She says that Saint Therese emphasizes “the importance of accepting gifts in the spirit in which they are offered, instead of responding to the gift itself,” which is just another way to “care to appear happy.”
This takes us out of the equation and puts the emphasis on the person who chose the gift for us and the thought and trouble that went into the choice. I love this! I have been guilty in the past of just looking at how I will use a gift, or what I will wear it with, or whether I can keep it alive, or any number of other things, rather than the fact that the gift is an offering of love, thoughtfulness, kind-heartedness and consideration.
So, this holiday season, I am determined to take the time to respond to the spirit in which the gift is given rather than the gift itself.
Gretchen does draw the line at passive-aggressive gifts though. She says that sometimes the spirit in which a gift is given is not all that kind—for example, when someone is gifted running clothes, a certificate to a spinning class and an electronic calorie counter—a none too subtle message is being sent.
I myself would be very unhappy to receive gifts that emphasize “organizing your life”—I am afraid I would have trouble accepting them in the spirit they are given—since that spirit would be a little annoying. I do not need a “teaching moment” gift. (Pearls would be nice though–a single black pearl on a silver chain in particular if anyone is wondering–this is useless as my husband does not read my blog. It is something that he is going to get around to some day. That day has not yet come.)
Have you ever received a gift that you had to remember the spirit in which it was given, because otherwise you would wonder what the heck the person was thinking?
I was inspired by rich, of Brainsnorts, who turns out little pieces of wonderful creativity every Friday in 100 words–so I tried an experiment when I had to get away from the book work which has engulfed me this week. It was fun, and I needed a little fun. Be kind in your critique and remember my mind has been taken over by facts and figures, numbers and……
A full moon spotted the weary traveller on the bare, shiny road. He pushed the button on his umbrella and it collapsed. He used it as a guide, its quick clicks cut the night silence.
A figure approached, her shadow enveloped him. No words were exchanged. She took his hand and led him up the stairs. Putting her fingers to her lips, she silently hushed him.
Nodding he followed her. She knocked a staccato message on the door. It opened, but no light escaped the room. She beckoned. He hesitated, then “Happy Birthday” poured out in loud, happy unison.
Brandishing the black 45, he twirled it expertly on one finger, then returned it to its holster. He turned his back and walked away. Was it over before it started?
Bewildered, the town’s people started to disperse. A shot rang out. It hit him in the back, not quite dead centre.
He fell to the ground. The crowd froze. Engulfed in a pond of blood, he did not call out for help. A kid with a limp stumped over to him calling for Doc Howard. Someone ran to the Doc’s office. He tripped on a step and fell.
She knew she was a good dancer. She knew he was watching. Her feet turned to lead. Her once graceful moves turned robotic. She could no longer keep the beat. Her face turned pink, then red—then she blanched.
He turned away. She saw him turn; she left the dance floor. In the washroom she flooded her face with cold water, not caring that it washed off her makeup and made her eyeliner run. She hunched her shoulders in defeat, wiped off the black streaks. The night was over.
He was outside the door. Waiting for her. She took his proffered hand.
This morning at 10 a.m. I went to the town park to plant a tree with some good friends. The tree was chosen for the way its leaves turn a vibrant red in the fall to match the vibrancy of the friend that we were planting it for.
We lost our friend last spring. “We” is my Writers’ Group (we obviously put our creativity into our work and not our name). Our friend was a member of our group and she was bipolar. She did not hide it; in fact she almost celebrated it–not in a “party hardy” fashion but as an advocate for those who suffered this puzzling disease with her. She fought it with everything she had, and her family and friends helped her with the fight.
When she was taking the right “cocktail” of drugs, she was balanced, nay normal. Normal—what a word, but I mean normal in that she could handle everyday life. She could get up and function, and most importantly be creative and make other people happy. And she revelled in making other people happy. That is what made her happy.
She called us dudes and dudettes. She told us when we read something at Writers’ Group not to apologize for what we were about to read aloud in the group, and if we did apologize (as writers are wont to do), she commanded us
to get down and do push-ups for not minding her wise advice.
The tree was planted on a slope of land at the park, facing the lake. It was carefully chosen to be protected and out of harm’s way. Professional landscapers did the actual planting, and a friend who works at the park brought over the first pails of water to nourish it.
We planted a tree today in honour of our friend, and this is the poem I wrote for her:
You Are In Our Hearts
We planted a tree today:
In honour of, or in memory of,
Or more appropriately
In celebration of a friend.
Our friend was vibrant
When she was not sad
She was jubilant
Except when she wasn’t.
She lived life to its fullest
When she could
She was braver than brave
Except when she was scared.
We planted a tree today:
In celebration of a life
Lived fully, abundantly, and effusively
Except when she couldn’t.
But, it is not farewell
You really do live in our hearts
And speak to our creative souls.
Her accidental death was a shock to our small town. She seemed to have a million friends. I am lucky to have been counted among them. We love you Colene.