March 6

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March 6

Ode to a playground

A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.

 

You were a breath of fresh air on a hard day.  At the first sight of you and my spirits lifted with ease, anxious for you to envelop me with all the familiar scents and sounds that calmed me.  It was you I would run to when I was afraid, when I was tired, when I was hurt, and when I just needed a break.  You loved my friends like your own and they, in turn, loved you.  Holidays and birthdays were such big events with you, we made sure to include you in almost every single one.

I can still feel your embrace at night, how safe you made me feel.  It’s as if no time has passed at all.  There were many times I took you for granted, to be sure, but I hope you know that looking back I could never love another quite as much as I have loved you.

As an adult, I’ve grown more appreciative of the times I had during my youth.  I look back with such fondness of you.  You will always have a place in my hear and the memories of you will live inside me for many, many years to come.

I bid you farewell, my lovely childhood home, I will surely miss you.

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1996

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March 5

Buffalo nickel

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

1996

I rummaged through the crap mess in the console of my truck and not only realized I desperately need to clean it, but found a dime and on it was stamped 1996.

It was 1996, the year I graduated high school.  It should have been a time in my life of festivities and prepping for senior prom and senior skip day with my best friends while making memories of a lifetime; instead I saw it as utterly painful.  I didn’t realize then that I was still making memories of a lifetime and that I would make a new friend to carry with me the rest of my life.  I lived in Ohio at the time because my father was transferred there during my senior year.  I met one of my very best friends there.  Both of us were dealt the horrible fate of spending our senior year away from our original high school and all our friends.  I moved from Atlanta and she from New Jersey (though originally from Alabama).  We formed an instant friendship.

We both had to leave high school boyfriends behind, obviously and neither of us were too pleased and we bonded over that quickly.  We became a quick cliché of Misery Likes Company and we kept to ourselves for the most part.  To make sure everyone knew just how miserable we were, we dressed in head to toe black on Valentine’s Day because, well, why not.  It was still the grunge era so we had a lot of black hanging around.

I graduated in May and by that time my father had been transferred again, this time to Florida though I was convinced I would be stopping and staying in Georgia.  I was eager to get back to Mr. EMT and could see no reason why I couldn’t stay on with a family member and attend college there.  1996, coincidentally was also the year the Olympics were in Atlanta so my parents rationalized that it wouldn’t be a good time for me to move back, and I should just wait a little while longer.  I didn’t realize at first that it was a ploy to try to keep me in Florida where they knew my future would probably be brighter since I would be in college.  They were smart, my parents, they knew me far better than I knew myself.

Fast forward to the end of 1996, after a few new friendships and entirely too much partying, I decided it was time to go back to Georgia.  I secretly bought a bus ticket, gave my 2 week notice at my job, and was prepared to leave my parents in almost a haste.  I knew they wouldn’t approve.  I knew they would be desperately disappointed, but I missed Mr. EMT so much that I felt I would lose him completely if I didn’t return.

My mother, being the brilliantly smart woman she is, somehow found out that I was leaving and she drove me there.  In almost complete silence.  It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life.  I could feel her anxiety, I could feel her fear, and I could feel her love.  She was going to let me go, but it was going to break her heart.  She knew the struggles I would face, but I was 18 and I wouldn’t hear anything about it.

1996 was a monumental year for me, almost as much as 1997 when Mr. EMT and I welcomed The Eldest long before we were prepared to be parents and started going through the struggles my mom knew were coming.

To be or not to be…transitioning

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My friends over at Merriam-Webster define transition as such:

     a:  passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another :  change

     b:  a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another

I suppose I am speaking about definition ‘b’.  You see, in 8 months The Eldest will be 18 years old; he will be an adult – legal age.  He will also be a senior in high school and, in my humble opinion, this makes him still a kid…cause he’s still in school…duh.  All this brings me to a conversation he and I had on the way to school this morning which I will share shortly.  (No, he doesn’t drive yet which is another kid thing)

He’s been moody this week.  Not disrespectful, but not his normal, chatty self.  He’s also been grounded from phone and Xbox use due to a failing grade.  Granted he’s struggling in the subject, but he failed to bring this to his dad’s or my attention before we found out about the grade.  We don’t punish if a kid is genuinely struggling as long as we know and they are seeking additional aid in the subject.  Neither has happened, thus he is grounded until the grade is passing.  Simple, no?  Well, not for him – evidently.  Mr. Grumpy Gills (to quote one of his favorite kid movies…) let it be known today that he disagrees which got me thinking about this whole transition from kid to adult thing we are going through.

Me: What’s with you this week?  You’re unusually grumpy.

The Eldest: I’m still upset.

Me: Ok, I’ll bite.  Why are you upset?  Let alone still…

The Eldest:  I’m grounded.  You realize I’ll be able to vote this year, right?  And I’m grounded like a kid.

Me:  There’s not an election this year so you can’t vote.  You’re 17, in high school, and I’m driving you to school – you’re kinda still a kid.

The Eldest: I’m probably joining the military this time next year, I drink coffee, and I could vote if there was an election this year…and you’ve taken my phone from me, I’m almost not a kid.

Me: ….

The Eldest: ….

Me: Ok….but since you’re almost not a kid and you’re absolutely failing a class and you’re definitely not paying for said phone because you don’t even have a job…you’re still grounded until the grade comes up.

The Eldest:  *sigh* *face palm* You never understand me!

Me: Haha…there it is, the adult conversation I was looking for.  Nice try, kid…go to class.

So, the normally articulate one wasn’t able to pull off a good enough reason to not be grounded.  Maybe it is because it was first thing in the morning, maybe it was because he didn’t take but 2 sips of coffee because he didn’t add enough caramel creamer to give a diabetic a coma, or maybe…just maybe he realized his mom is right.  HA!  Fat chance.  I think it’s because even though we are transitioning from kid to adult, he is still very clearly a kid.  I don’t remember this transition when I was his age, but I’ll bet my parents do.  This next year should be entertaining at the very least.  Wish me luck.

You know what they say about opinions…

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Yeah, I know you do.  It may be a different version for you, but here in the south the saying is that they’re like assholes…everyone has one.  Charming as that phrase is not, it’s nevertheless true both literally and metaphorically.  We’ll circle back to that thought a little later…

Mr. EMT and I (our whole family, really) are avid readers.  We enjoy a good story.  Our tastes differ drastically, but we work it out.  He has begged me to read some of his various favorites and I’ve never been able to do so before for fear of gut-wrenching pain searing me completely.  Mr. EMT reads a lot of non-fiction war books.   I did, however, succumb to one of his requests and read my first non-fiction war novel.  I read American Sniper by Chris Kyle.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or living in North Korea, you’ve heard about it at least by way of the latest blockbuster hit if not the actual book.

The book was incredible, much better than I could have ever thought it would be.  I’m always worried these books will leave a huge whole in my heart because of the death that comes with war.  There were sad parts in this book, don’t misunderstand, but it was told so well and with such character that I fell in love with his words, his duty, his family, and fell more in love with our country.  Yes, it really was that good.  It gave someone like me who has never seen war or had to make these type of hard decisions an insight of what they do and what they go through.  It gave me a real count of what the family they leave behind struggles with while they’re saving the country.

Fast forward to the blockbuster hit, and well I just had to see it, of course.  It didn’t disappoint, at least not too badly.  I’ve always been a book fan before a movie fan, though I understand the need to change things for the big screen.  Going into this, I tried to keep that knowledge and understanding in the back of my mind.  I tried to be open minded about Hollywood telling the story that moved me.  I read about how Chris Kyle wanted Clint Eastwood to direct, how he was already speaking with Bradley Cooper about his book becoming a movie before his death in 2013.  After his life was taken his wife, Taya, stepped up and kept moving with the filming of the movie – making sure her husband’s story was told well enough to keep the pride flowing through his children.

Mr. EMT and I didn’t make it to opening night of the movie and instead went four days later.  This gave me ample time to Google reviews and read the outpouring support for this man’s legacy.  It also gave me time to read the disgusting comments made by people who criticized his job, the work he did for his country.

This, my friends, is where I will circle back to that saying about opinions and include one that I’ve heard for as long as I can remember – empty vessels make the most noise.  I have to admit that I was pretty well outraged at the comments I read by some of Hollywood’s elite and many, many other lesser known empty vessels.  My first reaction was, ‘How dare you’.  How dare you try to defame the name of a man who fought four tours killing the people who plot to kill us every single day.  How dare you try to take away the pride his family feels when they remember his sacrifice to this nation.  The comments about how snipers are cowards was even more upsetting.  These men and women train countless hours to be able to save us from our enemy’s wrath, the wrath that caused September 11, 2001.

After I calmed down a little (not too much, because I’m still violently disgusted in those who claim to be US supports/citizens who clearly are not) I realized that these empty vessels, these ignorant individuals obviously did not read his book, did not look further than the Hollywood movie, and therefore are fools with voices.  If they had read his book they would have a much better understanding of how very difficult it was for Chris Kyle to do the job he did.  He wasn’t a murderer, he was a protector and we are less safe without him in this world.

So, as the critics go on with their defamation of a hero and spew nonsense with their rights (freedom of speech, for example) that people like Chris Kyle fight to protect, I will know in my heart of hearts that these people are truly the ignorant, shameful, and absolutely are not Americans regardless of nationality.

I’m losing my shit, y’all

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I’ve recently opened up (a little) about this little alien disease that seems to have taken up residence in my body.  Depression.  I really didn’t think I would have it or be diagnosed with it, but what do I know?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Yesterday was some interesting business.  Thank God for medication and my husband because honestly I don’t know how else I would have made it out alive.  Oh, and my new doctor.  I guess I should thank him, too.  Any who…

Yesterday started off as any other Monday does…with eye rolls, sighs, grunts, feet stomping and whines – the kids felt the same way, too.  It was their first day back after fall break (what the fuck is that, by the way?  They get a break because of a season change? Pfft).  About an hour after I get to the office I get a call from the middle school that my kids attend.  Lovely.  I answer, hoping and praying it’s some stupid “will you bring me a book” phone call so I can tell them they’ve lost their ever loving mind and go back to class.  No such luck.  It’s The Middle’s counselor.

I listen as she explains the events that have transpired this morning, concern from a friend of The Middle’s led them to an investigation and a sit down.  She’s been self-harming and that one single time that happened months ago “as an experiment” has been on repeat for a while now.  It’s at this point I can’t breathe, I can’t see, I can’t think and I have no idea what happened to my voice.  I don’t know how much time passes before I’m able to mutter a cognitive sentence explaining I’m on my way to the school.

On the way there I call Mr. EMT, who’s exhausted and hasn’t yet fallen asleep from working the night before, and crazily go through what was just explained to me.  He’s still dressed and he will meet me at the school and suddenly I feel a little better.  He’s home, he’s awake, he’s going to help us through this.  I love my Mr. EMT.

At the school The Middle is in tears, Mr. EMT is his perfectly calm self, and I’m shaking uncontrollably as the counselor goes more in detail to what happened.  I’m numb.  I’m scared.  I’m broken.  My heart hurts for The Middle and all I want to do is grab her and hug her, all I want to do is tell her she’s going to be ok.  I wait for that until we’re in the safe bubble of our living room, away from prying eyes and awkwardness.  Here this beautiful little child sits and she’s scared, and she’s broken, and it takes everything inside me not to join her in the endless tears.  But I have to be strong.  I have to be the mom and her backbone.  We talk at length and we look at the paper her school counselor gave us with the name and number of a therapist who specializes in this and we all three agree it’s the best thing.

Mr. EMT eventually goes to sleep and The Middle and I spend lovely moments together talking about anything she wants to talk about.  It’s like any other day, but more.  I hate to leave her, I hate that I have an appointment with my new doctor, but I need to go to this more than ever.  We spend an hour going over me, what’s been going on, how I cope with things, and I let him know about the events of earlier and I lose it.  I crumble and I just cry.  It’s too much.  Everything is just too much.  I feel like a rubber band must feel when it’s stretched so far that it’s developing a hole just before it breaks.

He speaks of depression, how my medicine will help me out of it, and he mentions seeing a possibility of a nervous breakdown.  I’m not there yet, he says, but he fears I’m pretty close.  Maybe I am.  I gather myself back together and we talk for just over an hour.  He told me the one thing I’ve read from The Bloggess countless times that has always resonated with me, Depression Lies.  It’s not hopeless after all.

I left his office with a sliver of hope.  I might be losing my shit, but I have help finding it and putting it back together and most importantly, so does The Middle.  I think The Middle and I can both become better and we can do it together.  She won’t feel alone going to therapy because her mom needs it just as badly.  The scar we both carry inside and outside will heal with time.

This week’s prompt from Tina, at Not Just Another Mother Blogger.

“Best hidden away” and/or “scar”

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Parenting, it ain’t for the light hearted

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Going into parenting, I was a nervous wreck.  I got pregnant young, almost too young to be a parent.  I was an adult, but only just barely.  Looking at my 17-year-old son today, I cannot imagine him becoming a parent in a couple years, like his father and I did.  I was a wreck somewhat because of our ages, but mostly because I had no idea what the hell I was doing.  I was going to be responsible for another life.  How was that going to work?  I still could hardly separate colors successfully and not turn white underwear pink.

I was given this awesome book, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’.  I read it cover to cover 3 times before I ever laid eyes on the kid growing in my stomach.  Then, when he came I read ‘What to Expect the First Year’.  Again, I read it cover to cover countless times.  I was ready.  I was prepared.  Turns out there was no way I could turn him pink during bath time (well, except that one time with the bath paint, but let’s not go there).  We were good.

I went blithely through colic and the toddler stage to preschool and then had a couple more kids along the way.  I was becoming a pro at this.  I was raising three kids and no one turned pink again.  We taught them ‘stranger danger’, how to escape during a fire, where to go if they got lost, code words for people claiming to be sent by us, and all the likes of parenting 101.  Parenting magazines were a God send during the younger years and we thrived as a family.  We read advice columns, we exchanged ideas between our friends, and we relied on the past experiences our parents had and combined them all for super parenting, like a super power.

All those years, all those books and not one time did anyone mention what could really hurt your kid.  Adolescence and hormones.  I didn’t read anywhere about what to do if your child experimented with cutting.  I didn’t get any advice about what to do when your child withdrew and started listening to questionable music and wanting to dress in all black.  Nowhere in those books did I read what to do when your sweet children are replaced by kids full of eye rolls, blank stares, deadly stares, exaggerated sighs, unanswered questions, phones glued to hands, and mood swings that would make even the scariest roller coaster jealous.

Cellphone etiquette wasn’t listed in those books, either.  Sure, we made rules as we went, but this isn’t something that was an issue during our upbringing so we were just winging it.  There was no parenting book that told you exactly how to handle apps and social media and sexting.  There’s no ‘What to Expect’ about those things.  We try to be reasonable parents, trusting parents.  We take lessons friends have learned and parents have learned and we try to apply them as best we can.  There are all types of parents out there.  I know parents that are too lax, I know parents that over-parent, I know parents that try to be somewhere in between, and I know parents that seem to have all the answers and they just seem to do it right.  However, then I learned those parents, the ones who appear to have it all together and have parenting as their super power are just as scared and are going through just as much as the rest of us.

Maybe there’s no ‘What to Expect’ book out there for adolescence because no one really knows what to expect.  No one has mastered it well enough to write it all down.  There’s no way someone can prepare for your child to admit they’ve been a “cutter”, there’s no way to prepare for your child to make a decision to share intimate images of themselves to someone on the internet, and there’s no way to have all the right words and all the right actions for things you never thought could or would happen.  I’ve learned that as a mom I just have to admit when I don’t know what the hell to do and then I have to rally with other moms who are experiencing the same thing.

In my advice and edition of ‘What to Expect’ during adolescence, I will say this – expect everything and befriend the parents of your children’s friends.  They are your only hope to getting out of this alive….well, them and a nice big bottle glass of wine.

By the wayside

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There are so many positive attributes that have come from the technological advances over time.  Computers have paved the way for personal growth instead of just being a big box in an office from which to run reports.  Social media has proven to be a means for people to unite from all over the world who would not normally do so.  It’s been a bridge that has connected people who would have lost contact for years, maybe even lifetimes.  Smart phones have made it easier to keep in contact, keep busy, organize life, and become more productive when used properly.  All these lovely creations have brought so much more depth to people’s lives by bringing others easily within reach – technically.

However, like all positives there’s a negative somewhere.  It’s like my mom used to say, there is no hate without love and vice versa.  It’s the classic yin-yang of technology.  Because we’ve become so reliable on technology a lot of other areas of our lives have either changed or diminished altogether.

Tradition as we knew it just twenty years ago has all but gone by the wayside.  Ask the younger generations how many Christmas cards they receive, and of those how many are from their generation.  How many birthday invitations come in the mail for children?  Who, other than the ones older than generation X, sends birthday cards?  These simple traditions have been replaced by evites, texts, Facebook messages, posts, and emails.  The only letters I have hand-written and mailed in the last few years have been to my grandmother who is in a convent.  When is the last time you printed a picture to put in a photo album?  Personally, it’s been a couple years for me as I am just as guilty.

Never mind these simple traditions, what about the big ones?  We’ve become a society so busy with our technologically organized lives that we forget to plan for the big events or we’re too busy to do so.  Family reunions happen less and less.  One part of my extended family hasn’t been together for a holiday in years, and I mean years.  My children don’t even know who some of these people are and I grew up with them at every birthday, every holiday, and every family event.  Today, I see their posts via Facebook and pictures via Instagram.

Technology has begun to rob us of what we once held dear.  We may not be so wise of it right now, but it’s there creeping in slowly like the mist of a morning fog.  Don’t let your traditions fall by the wayside, grab them and hold them and then pass them to the next generation like that old creepy doll collection from your great-great somebody or other.  You never know, one day they may be worth something.

This week, we borrow from Nonamedufus and his self-titled blog, “Taught By My Example.”

“I love to spoil them.” and/or “tradition”

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