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Monday, February 15, 2016

Growing up, growing pains

Last night as I went to bed I got a text from my son telling me to look under my pillow.  He had written me a letter for Valentines day.  My heart is aching today and my eyes are dripping still.  My middle...second...ugh I hate those labels.  My youngest son, there that's better.  My youngest son and I have a long history of letters.  I have them all.  Whenever he did something wrong, got punished, or had deep emotions he couldn't bare to speak I'd get a letter under my door.  It became a running joke as he got older.  Whether or not a specific situation was going to warrant a letter.  This one was the all time top heart breaker.  After I read it I went into his room sobbing.  Apparently loud enough for my oldest son to hear and come upstairs to make sure I was ok.  When I told him that I was fine, that his brother had written me a letter he smiled, knowing.  He said "what did you do, take away his Nintendo DS".  We all laughed at that one.

My cream filling son is going to college next year.  It's not going to be easy.  I am in denial.....so is he.  As close as I was and am to my oldest, when he went to college he had spent the year before breaking away from me.  I accepted it, I knew it was the natural progression of life.  But my younger son?  No.  That's not happening.  We can't separate from each other.  It's nearly impossible.  He is busy all the time.  Work. Baseball.  His amazing girlfriend.  School.  But yet, he always has to make sure he has one on one time with me.  Texts me all the time.  I wrote a book about him.Beyond the Immediate.  It is a story about his battle with cancer when he was 10.  Our relationship has never been the same since that time.  He and I have a bond that no one else can begin to comprehend.  He became my hero, and apparently, I became his.  We grew up together in that hospital.  I was forever changed and so was he.  I began my journey of self discovery and it appears that he observed the whole thing with the intent to do the same.  People tell you that you can't be your children's friend.  I totally disagree.  I've been their friend since they were born.  I was their first friend.  They need to know you have their backs, no matter what!  I'm lucky.  My kids never disrespected me when they were little, even though I was their friend.  They knew I was their mom too.  17 was the age when things changed with my oldest, he began to look at me in a way that I believe most teenagers look at their parents.  It's normal, it's the natural progression of them leaving the nest, preparing to separate.  My youngest son has never looked at me that way.  Still.  He still thinks I hung the moon.  I am waiting.  I keep waiting.  I don't want to be shocked when and if it happens.  But, in my heart, I don't think it will.  We've been to war together, a war against cancer and the rest of the world.  That changes things, don't you think?  Not to mention I have been all over the state and a few others in pursuit of his baseball dreams.  I've sat in 120 degrees and as cold as 30.  He doesn't forget that.  He remembers the car rides, the laughter, the tears, the dancing, the singing, he remembers it all.  How blessed am I?  The thought of not being at every game next year when he's in college breaks my heart.  It breaks his too, I found out.  He's going to school 2500 miles away.  Thankfully, we are moving closer to him.  He'll be 500 miles away instead.

Here's the secret, I think, to my relationship with my kids.  First of all, God has blessed me FAR more than I deserve.  He has entrusted me with 3 incredible souls to raise and I will be eternally grateful for those gifts.  I think, I always tried to be the parent I wish I had.   I always felt safe with my parents, like no matter what it would be ok. I tried to give that to my kids.  I always knew I was loved, no matter what.  I definitely gave them that.  But, what I didn't have when I was growing up was someone who didn't mock the silly things that kids worry about.  The things that we, as adults know are trivial.  I wish I had someone who would have empathized with those silly little things and explain that in actuality it would all be ok.  I did that for my kids.  I tried to never make them feel insignificant.  I think I succeeded.  I remember when I was 13 I was so upset about growing up.  I didn't want to do it, I was terrified.  I wanted things to stay exactly as they were.  I was crying at the table with my mother and my sister and they were smirking.  I locked myself in the bathroom and I wrote on a piece of paper that I was afraid to grow up and I passed it under the door.  (now I know where my son got his note passing genes ;)  ).  They could not contain their laughter.  I was heart broken.  They tried to stop laughing and talk to me but it was too late.  I was never going to trust them with my deepest thoughts again.  The walls around my heart started building that day I think.  Probably before, but that was a significant time I still feel the pain when I remember it.   I was determined to never let my kids feel that.  I guess what I'm saying is that, as a parent, you have to treat your children as PEOPLE....not subordinates, or less than you, as people!  With compassion and understanding.  Always think, how would I feel if someone treated me like that?  I didn't always get it right, I'm human, but I never stopped trying.  Another thing I think a lot of parents don't do is share their mistakes with their kids.  I am brutally honest with them.  They know all the screw ups I made.  The things I did that I wouldn't want them to do in high school.  It made me real to them.  It made them connect with me, not look at me as the enemy but as someone who understands.  I have in turn be trusted with their secrets.  Things most parents suspect about their kids but never know for sure.  They talk to me about it all. I am the type of person who believes in full disclosure with all relationships in my life, why would my kids be any different?  Parents don't want their kids to lie, yet they go crazy on them with lectures and dissappointed faces when they are told the truth, no wonder they keep things to themselves.  It's tough, I'm not saying it's not.  But I can tell you honestly, it's worth it.  The bond you create with your child will be worth it.  They are only kids for 18 years.....they will be your adult friends for a lifetime.  Remember that.....its all part of growing up.  For us and for them.  It's beyond the immediate.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A day of hearts....

Happy Valentines Day!

I am not a huge fan of Valentines day.  In fact, it's been a day I dreaded for a long long time.  Expectations were probably the reason.  I was always a sucker for romantic gestures.  My dad spoiled me for any man to make my Valentines day.  Every year I'd wake up to candy and a stuffed animal from my first Valentine.  He set the bar pretty high, obviously.  I was always searching for that feeling I'd get seeing what my dad had chosen for me, that feeling like I was special. As I got older I realized that you can't get that feeling from flowers...or chocolate....or jewelry....you get it from having that one person in your life that makes you feel like that every day.  It's priceless.  And it isn't about Valentines day, it's about every day.  And once you have it you realize what's been missing in your life.

ok, this is NOT what I set out to write about today, but when you're in love, truly truly in love for the first time in your life it kinda sorta takes over your brain. I woke up this morning in a sad way but after a quick phone conversation my heart is whole again and the feelings I was feeling have faded.  But I feel I need to get it out and write about it so I'm going to.

Last year was one of the worst years of my life.  Today marks the one year anniversary of the last day I saw my mother alive.  I was in Florida taking care of her and an emergency back in Arizona forced me to leave a week early and go home.  So, I sat at my parents table holding my moms hand for the last time.  I couldn't look her in the eye, I was hiding the shit that was going on back home and I was afraid if I looked at her I would lose my mind.  I had to be strong for her.  But, my whole soul shows in my eyes so I avoided eye contact.  I remember how soft her hands were.  I remember tracing the veins on her hand and playing with her rings while we sat in silence.  My God I miss her.  She was telling me how much she loved me and asking me if I forgave her.  I knew what she meant.  I assured her that I did and told her how much I loved her.  But truth be told, I didn't feel the forgiveness in my heart.  I didn't feel the love that I feel now.  I was guarded.  The wall I had up on my heart was protecting me.  I had my heart shattered so many times over the years I just couldn't let myself feel anymore.  I was frozen.  But I hope my words were enough to make her feel the forgiveness and love that I feel now, in this moment for her.  I didn't think that would be the last time I saw my mom.  I knew she was dying but I thought we had more time.  I was the last person (with my daughter) besides my dad to see her alert.  Two days later she slipped into basically a coma and she never came back.  I feel blessed.  I got to have that moment, holding her hand and feeling her.  My mommy.  The woman who gave me life and healed my boo boos.  I have been in denial over the last year of the void it's left in my life not to have her here.  But on my birthday this year she came to me.  She let me in on a secret that has changed everything.  She has brought me the very best gift I've ever received.  She was working behind the scenes on my behalf to answer every prayer I've ever spoken or even thought in my head.  It all makes sense to me now. The sheer bliss I have in my life right now.  It was her final gift to me.  And now I am mourning her death in a way I wasn't able to before.  Because all the walls around my heart are gone.  So I feel things as if I was never hurt before.  So the grief is fresh. Today I remember seeing her face that very last time and how it felt to hug her, hold her and say good bye.  But I'm lucky.  I feel her and see her all the time now.   It's not the same as having her physically here, but it's better than nothing.

So, as I wipe the tears that are pouring from my eyes I realize what a difference a year makes.  I will never look at Valentines day the same way again.  It will now symbolize to me a day of sheer and true love.  A day of new beginnings.  A day of a heart that will never have to be guarded again because it's finally in the hands of the person it was meant for.  And I have my mommy to thank for it all.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Have I told you about my first born?


When I was expecting my first child I was torn between wanting a boy first (clearly so he could protect the little sister that I knew would come along) and wanting a daughter first, because let's face it, girl clothes are way cuter.  I was thrilled when I found out my first child was going to be a boy.  I remember feeling like he and I had a secret all the time.  I would talk to him, I knew his every movement.  I felt his hiccups and his somersaults.  It was such a magical time in my life.  When he was born in a way I was born too.  I became a mom.  And that defined me for the next 17 years.  It was my calling.  It was my mission in life.  THIS was my mark on the world.  These little people that God trusted me to mold and shape and love and understand.  I took no other role as seriously in my life.  I love my children, all three of them.  But this post is about my first born.  He will be 22 next month (gulp).....he's a man.  But part of him will always be my little baby boy.

He's gorgeous, just saying.  Utterly beautiful to look at.  He gives THE best hugs in the world, but only if you are special enough to be worthy of them.  He's very selective on who he lets into his life.  He always has been.  I'm the lucky one.  He chooses me as his confidant more times then not.  We had a really tough time from around the time of his 17th birthday until about 6 months ago.  I wondered at times if we would ever be close again.  It was the worst heartbreak of my life if I'm being honest (and I always am).  When a relationship breaks up it hurts, but when it's your child....and a child that you have been closer to than nearly anyone else....it's soul crushing.  But, we are back on track now, thankfully and I am ever so grateful. For any of you going through the growing pains of the 17-21 year old here's my only advice----ACCEPT THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE.  You don't always have to like them but it's necessary to love them.  You are their lifeline.  Their strength. They need you even if they don't seem to.

Yesterday I found myself frustrated with him.  When your kids are adults it's sometimes challenging to allow them to be who they are without losing your mind.  We are still navigating the parent/adult child relationship and learning how it works.  Just as we've learned everything else together as he is "the crash test child" (his words).  This morning we were back on track.  We had some time alone (a rarity these days) and I am learning that this is my time to just listen to him and not try to interject anything, even if he asks for my opinion.  He needs a sounding board.  I'm it.  He has taught me so much about how men think.  He and his brother are similar yet so different that I have a wide spectrum on how the male mind thinks.  (I could have REALLY used this when I was a teenager.)  I used to be a bit of a male basher (yes, I'm ashamed!) but now?  I think men are amazing, misunderstood and true gifts from God if loved unconditionally.

He spends time with his siblings doing what they want to do.  He takes an interest in their day to day lives.  I've heard him tell them both that "this is it.  The four of us?  It's all that matters.  You need to give the best to us and vice versa.  Everyone else?  Just extra.  We are what matters!."  He showed me today that he started bank accounts for his younger siblings and explained how he makes the deposits and what they are based on.  This brought me to tears.  This child (man) is so much more than anyone else sees.  He has been labeled, criticized, judged, hurt, bullied and ostracized since he was little.  People have never seen the side of him that I do.  That his siblings do.  It sucks to be them, because he's truly a bright light in a world of darkness.  He refused to show people the real him unless they prove their worthiness to him.  The woman that is fortunate enough to share his life with him will be a very lucky lady.  That will mean she cared enough to see through the exterior he shows to the world and loved him enough to see past his quirks.  I pray every day for her.  She will be welcomed into our family with open arms.  And she will know.....she's getting an amazing man, and I will still look at him like my baby boy....the one that I grew up with....the one that made me a mom. <3 p="">

Monday, February 8, 2016

Never settle for anything less.....

Funny, my last post was about the void inside of me.  I found an old blog entry from New Years Day 2014 that I never posted....it describes where I was then.  No joy.  Numbness.  hmmmm...seems to be a pattern in my life. I could pretty much have written that post every New Years day for the last 30 some years.  Not this year.  And I'm pretty sure I will never write anything of the sort ever again....  Let me post what I had written.  I think it will help anyone who is trying to find the joy in their life.  I had good intentions.  I tried to decide what made me happy, that's a big start.  It's a definite way of finding what makes you tick.  For the longest time I had no idea what made me happy.  My happiness was wrapped up in the happiness of others...one day I looked at my kids and realized they were growing up and I was going to be on my own at some point.  Yikes.  What would I do with myself?  That began my journey to self discovery.  Finally, at some point in the last year I became really happy with the person I saw in the mirror.  Not physically necessarily.  I still have some work to do with that portion of my self love, but I really fell in strong like with the inner being I had become. It changed everything else.  It made me not want to be around anyone or anything that made me feel less than peaceful and happy.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still a really good friend to those people I choose to have in my life.  I still drop everything to answer the phone if my nieces call.  I'm still a really devoted mom.  But I no longer let every one's issues become my issues.  I'm able to not allow it to affect me the way it used to.  I realize I can't fix every one's problems and it's not my job to.  But, that doesn't make me a bad friend, Aunt, mother, sister ....you get the drift.  Here's the post I found...

HAPPY NEW YEAR…I GUESS
POSTED ON JANUARY 1, 20142014 IS HERE—I’VE WAITED FOR IT, THOUGHT IT WOULD BE AMAZING AND I HAD SUCH HOPES FOR THE HOLIDAY SEASON.  THEY FELL FLAT.  EVERYTHING IN MY LIFE IS FALLING FLAT LATELY.  I FEEL NUMB.  I WOKE UP THIS MORNING AND TRIED TO MEDITATE (I’VE BEEN SIDETRACKED THROUGH MOST OF DECEMBER AND NOW I HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN) AND REALIZED I FEEL NOTHING.  A LITTLE SADNESS, BUT MOSTLY NOTHING.  SURE, I LAUGH AND SMILE AND JOKE AROUND, BUT INSIDE—DEAD.  THEN I THOUGHT ABOUT IT—I HAVE NO JOY IN MY LIFE.  DON’T GET ME WRONG, I AM BLESSED BEYOND MEASURE.  I HAVE 3 AMAZING KIDS, A FAMILY THAT LOVES ME, FRIENDS WHO CARE ABOUT ME, 2 DOGS, A FANTASTIC JOB, AN EX HUSBAND WHO STILL LEAVES ME TO RAISE MY KIDS ANYWAY I WANT TO AND DOESN’T TRASH ME TO THE WORLD, 2 HEALTHY PARENTS WHO I ADORE AND ARE ALWAYS THERE FOR ME.  SO WHAT’S SHE BITCHING ABOUT YOU ASK….NOTHING BRINGS ME JOY—THAT HAPPINESS INSIDE OF YOU THAT BUBBLES OUT OF YOUR EYES AND MAKES YOUR HEART SWELL.  I NEED TO FIND OUT WHAT BRINGS ME JOY.
IT JUST SEEMS LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IS SO BUSY ALL THE TIME (I AM TOO, A SINGLE, WORKING MOM WHO IS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR TAKING MY YOUNGER 2 KIDS TO EVERY ACTIVITY, PARTY, SCHOOL EVENT ETC.) THAT THEY DON’T THINK ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY ARE NOT JOYFUL.  BUT most of us have had THAT JOY, THAT SPARK THAT AMAZING FEELING OF HAPPINESS at some point in our lives, but let's be honest--it hasn't lasted, YOU LOSE IT—YOU REALIZE IT’S GONE AND YOU WANT IT BACK SO BADLY YOU’LL DO ALMOST ANYTHING.
LAST NIGHT THE KIDS AND I (AND MY SON’S GIRLFRIEND) MAKE HAPPINESS/BLESSING/THANKFUL JARS FOR 2014 WITH THE INTENTION OF PUTTING IN 2 GOOD THINGS EVERY DAY THAT HAPPENED TO US.  I’M HOPING THIS TRIGGERS MY JOY METER. I’M REALLY A VERY SIMPLE PERSON, I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS IS SO HARD FOR ME.  I DON’T NEED STUFF, I’M NOT MATERIALISTIC AT ALL.  I’M HOPING THAT WRITING WILL UNLEASH WHATEVER IS INSIDE OF ME BLOCKING MY HAPPINESS.
THINGS I ENJOY
-A RELAXING CUP OF COFFEE IN THE MORNING
-GOING TO THE MOVIES AND SEEING A GOOD ROMANTIC COMEDY OR EVEN A KIDS MOVIE OR JUST A COMEDY
-WHEN MY HOUSE IS CLEAN AND ORGANIZED AND NOT MESSY–BRINGS ME JOY YET CAN’T SEEM TO OBTAIN IT CONSISTENTLY
-COOKING AND HAVING MY FAMILY ENJOY THE MEAL – MY FAMILY WENT FROM 5 TO 3 RECENTLY -MAYBE THIS HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THIS NOT BRINGING ME AS MUCH JOY.
-COMPLETING MY TO DO LIST–OR COMING CLOSE
-HAVING COFFEE OR LUNCH OR DINNER WITH A GOOD FRIEND.  BUT SOMETIMES THAT JUST MAKES ME SADDER, DEPENDING ON THE DAY- SOMETIMES I MONOPOLIZE THE CONVERSATION OR THEY DO AND THAT JUST DOESN’T MAKE ME HAPPY.  I LIKE IT WHEN IT BALANCES OUT AND WE BOTH GET SOMETHING OUT OF IT–THAT HAPPENS WITH MY SISTER AND MY FRIEND LAURA MOSTLY.  I HAVE ONE FRIEND THAT I JUST MONOPOLIZE EVERYTHING WITH AND THE OTHERS, WELL IT’S MOSTLY ABOUT THEM.
-SITTING ON THE BEACH AND WATCHING MY KIDS PLAY IN THE OCEAN.
-WATCHING MY SONS BECOME BEST FRIENDS AFTER YEARS OF IT BEING NOT THAT WAY.
SO, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO TO FIND THIS JOY?  I’M GOING TO FIND A WAY TO LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND FIND THAT JOY IN EVERY ONE.
HAPPY NEW YEAR….YES IT WILL BE!HAPPY NEW YEAR…I GUESS


Last year (February 2015) was by far the darkest time in my life.  Worse than when my 10 year old had cancer, yes, you read that right.  My mother was terminally ill and passed away (yes, the year before I said I had 2 healthy parents...never know how quickly things can change)and my oldest son was struggling and there was nothing I could do to help him.  I felt like I was drowning, I couldn't get my head out from under the water.  I was scared and sad and I felt a despair I never even imagined was possible.  It made New Years 2014 look like Christmas morning for God's sake.  But I'm here to tell you that even at your lowest possible moment....it will get better!  Even the most horrible situation will eventually heal and if you ALLOW yourself to feel better, you will!

Recently, I've been lucky enough to be the happiest I have EVER been in my life.  Every morning I wake up with this joy bubbling over out of my body, it is insane!  It is the most incredible feeling I've ever had.  And it's constant.  It's literally every second of every day---I'm not lying.  If you've read my previous entries you know I don't sugar coat, I'm not Willie Wonka.  This is a true situation.  It is possible!  The fairy tale?  Underrated....understated....it can be better than you even imagine!  I feel so incredibly blessed and grateful.  I don't feel even a tiny bit guilty that I've found it.  I do feel badly for those who don't have it yet.  But my mission is to help anyone and everyone find it.  Everyone should feel this good.  No, I'm not taking narcotics.  No, I haven't lost my mind.  I'm here to tell you that Euphoria is REAL and possible....and now that I have it, I will never settle for anything less.  Neither should you!  You're worth it.....