Hooyah – it’s going to be OK

On December 6, 2016 I said “see you later” to my sweet, wonderful, brave son as he left our home to venture off to Navy boot camp, the first step of his new career that will take him to the ends of the earth and back.  To date, this was the single hardest thing I have ever done as a mother.

We raise our young in hopes that when the time comes they will leave our little nest and soar with open wings as far as their heart is content, but I don’t think we ever really consider the excruciating void that comes with that.  We never consider what we will feel when that time comes…not really.  I remember thinking how proud I would feel, how excited I would feel, and how thankful I would fell.  I did and still do feel all of those things, but I am devastated that 19 years flew by so damn quickly.

Our family still has the four of us, me, Mr. Medic, The Little and the Middle, but it sure does feel like an empty house without The Sailor.  I miss him so much that it physically hurts me.  It pains me in a way I never knew I could hurt.  He called us that night just about midnight and it was the dreaded ‘scripted’ call.  Anyone who’s had any calls from navy boot camp, knows that awful call.  I remember it as if I’ve just hung up the phone with him.

The Sailor: “Hey Mom.  I’ve made it.  I’m safe and ok.  I’ll call you soon.  In 10 days you’ll receive a letter with my information in it.”

*Pause to swallow back the tears*

Me: “Hey son, I miss you already and I love you so much, will the letter give me your addre..”

The Sailor:  “I’m safe and ok.  In 10 days you’ll receive a letter with my information in it.”

There was about 2 seconds of silence and he whispers, my wonderfully brave son…

The Sailor *whispering*: “I love you mom”

Me *whispering like an idiot since they can’t hear me from my living room*: “I love you, too!  Can you talk?  I mean is it ok?”

The Sailor: “Well…I’m not technically supposed to, but…I love you, mom and I’m ok, I promise.”

Me: “Are you going to be ok?”

The Sailor: “I’m fine, mom.  It’s all ok.”

Somewhere the RDC has circled back and I hear him tell The Sailor what to say and he does, then we hang up.  I cry for what seems like an eternity, but then I laugh and that lasts even longer.  My sweet, by the book son has rebelled from the robot speech to let me know he’s got this.

The journey has been interesting so far, to say the least.  Stay tuned as I try to update this little venture of ours as often as possible.

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I remember when

I sit here tonight in the quiet of the house with a heavy heart and fire inside me.  I have a plethora of feelings this evening and so I turn to this trusty place.  I’m staring at the blinking cursor as it mocks me when I can’t think of the words, but I know I have to write.

Do you remember where you were 15 years ago today?  The day before the world changed as we know it?  More importantly, do you remember what kind of person you were then? Who were you, what were your worries?  Did you lose your temper that day over something silly and mundane?  Were you a little too short with a loved one?  Were you a little too impatient?  Did you thank that nice girl at the counter who served you coffee as you rushed off to work, late because of the traffic?  Did you pass judgement on that person sitting at the end of that exit ramp asking for spare change?

I bet we all did some of these things 15 years ago today because none of us knew that tomorrow we would wake up and become someone different – that we would wake up and our country would be changed.  I remember exactly where and who I was 15 years ago today.  I was one week away from bringing into the world my daughter, The Middle, and I was as miserable as I could be.  I was impatient with anyone near me, I was short tempered, I was tired, I was swollen, and I was not the person I am today.

Like thousands and thousands of people, I watched horrified that morning as the events unfolded and despite going into labor and my mid-wife instructing me to stay away from the news, I watched for days on end as the aftermath unfolded.  It was devastating; we all remember how devastating this day was.  It was a sight I will never forget, it was a feeling I will never forget, and it was change in our country I wish we all would never forget.

You see, we’ve forgotten that part.  Every year on September 11th we all put that photo of the towers or the eagle that’s shedding tears on our social media pages and we promise not to forget, but do we actually remember?  Do we remember, as a country, what we swore we would never forget?  I do and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but not nearly enough people truly remember.  Yes, we remember the attack on our country. We remember the horrifying collapse of both towers and we remember the excruciating number of innocent lives we lost on that day, but do we remember the days that came after?  Do we remember how we promised to never forget that we are the UNITED States of America?  That when you attack one of us or some of us, you attack ALL of us?  Do we remember that at that time there were no black Americans, no white Americans, no brown Americans, no yellow Americans – we were AMERICANS.  We were UNITED.  We were one and we rallied behind our flag, behind our country, behind our law enforcement, behind our first-responders, behind our military and behind each other.

I remember when we became brothers and sisters of this country and we promised those nearly 3 thousand innocent souls and their families that we would never forget.  We also promised the assholes who killed these innocent people for simply being American that we would unite and rally behind our our flag, behind our country, behind our law enforcement, behind our first-responders, behind our military and behind each other.

Today we are no longer brothers and sisters of this country as promised; we are jaded, separated, and self-proclaimed victims of a society that has done nothing but afford us every possible opportunity for success and freedom.  Today we can claim to be oppressed and show disrespect to a country we all promised to protect 15 years ago.  Today we fight each other to the death rather than the enemy who murdered us for being American.  Today we make excuses instead of change, we no longer hold the responsible parties accountable for the demise of their own lives but instead blame a country who has done nothing but house ideals, morals, and opportunities for centuries.

I remember when we were the UNITED States of America and I pray it doesn’t take another tomorrow to remind us of the promises we made.

Oh Alice, how I love thee

March 12

Bedtime stories

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent? Did it influence the person you are now?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has long been one of my most favorite and influential books to date.  Though in truth there are so many that helped shape who I have become.  Each time I read Alice I take something new from the book.  It’s the only book that I can say has grown with me when reading it during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  In my opinion, it makes this particular story timeless.

The loss of childhood innocence, learning quickly that the world will think you too small or too tall, never really being the right fit for what is needed.  As an adolescent, this struck me to my core.  In fact, I held on to it for far too long.  During puberty and into early adulthood I had the horrible feeling of not being enough.  It took me a long time to grow out of that – to figure out that I’m good with me and I don’t need approval to be me.  Through this story I, like Alice, learned that I am the right size, after all.  I learned not to let the opinions of others dictate who I was to become.

The Cheshire Cat, with his broad grin and fearless behavior, can be thought of in so many translations. As a child I thought him to be the secret, imaginary friend that tried to get you in trouble by leading you down a path you didn’t know and then disappearing.  As an adolescent I thought him to be cunning and too knowledgeable.  The best line, for me, was when she asked which way to go and after she answered she didn’t know where when he asked, he simply said it doesn’t matter she will end up somewhere.  How true is that?  We never really know which path to take, but no matter which one it is, it leads us somewhere.  There is hardly a right or wrong.

The Caterpillar is another example of changing each time I read this story.  A simple three word question and with it says everything.  “Who are you?” She has such a difficult time answering him, you can only assume she doesn’t know who she is anymore.  She’s changed.  Don’t we all?  She insults the cantankerous caterpillar by explaining it is dreadful being only 3 inches tall, after all the caterpillar is only 3 inches tall.  Alice who struggles with her own image, judges harshly the caterpillars size though it’s the same as hers at the time.  We often run into cantankerous, confusing people, but it doesn’t do well to insult them.

This story mostly taught me about adversities in life.  How the world constantly changes and confuses.  It taught me to expect the unexpected and learn that sometimes there is no logical answer to it and that’s ok, we’ll get through that maze one way or the other.  In this way, the story taught me to be more open minded, not to follow simply to follow, and to go with my gut in all journeys through life.  Life is a mess of puzzles, problems, oddities, and no two people are the same or think the same; we have to learn to accept it and move on.

 

Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality
Les Brown

 

1996

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.

I’m losing my shit, y’all

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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By the wayside

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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From a child’s eye

Images courtesy of freeimages.co.uk
Images courtesy of freeimages.co.uk

I was 12 years old and my brother was graduating from Navy basic training in San Diego, CA.  I remember his going away party like it was yesterday.   This party, though, was one for the books.  We had a 3 floor split level home and one of my dad’s best friends brought a gas station sized American Flag to drape in front of our house. There were so many people, so many laughs, and so many tears.  I don’t really remember the day he left, but I remember the sadness that overtook the party at the end when everyone wished him well.

Fast forward 8 weeks and my parents let me know we were going to be flying to California to watch him graduate and spend a week touring.  California!  This was the summer of 1990, people!  Just after the movie Pretty Woman was released.  You could imagine my excitement to see Rodeo Drive!  Of course, that was before I realized San Diego was not at all near Rodeo Drive.  (My dad, being the awesome man he is, later got us to Beverly Hills and the Hollywood sign for a day any way)

After his graduation and after I melted over the fact that I used the same bathroom in the USO building from the scene in Top Gun where Maverick followed Charlie, my dad wanted to visit Mexico.  Wow!  Mexico? Another country?  This was quickly turning into the best vacation ever.

It wasn’t a long drive, I remember, and we ended up at what reminded me as the toll booths on our highways back in GA.  We go in and Dad gets us to Tijuana, Mexico.  Naturally, I had no way of knowing what to expect.

My dad wanted to go to the shops in the town to barter for items on which he knew he could get great deals.  We ended up going down a small open tunnel that smelled of urine, rotting food, and God only knows what else.  I was scared beyond any of my monster under the bed imaginations I had up until now.  I remember women and men off to the side eyeing us.  Luckily, my father stands 6’4″ so no one really talked to us.  Except this little girl who couldn’t have been more than 4 years old and there she stood with her coffee can looking at us with these huge sad, brown eyes.  My heart broke.  This was the first time I saw real pain and real sorrow.  She was hungry.  She was poor.  After much begging and pleading, I got my dad to give her some money.

The vacation ended up being very wonderful, but there are so many times in my life where I find myself looking back at that little girl in that tunnel, and for an instant my problems seem so small.

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