Carry on Tuesday: There is a place, Where I can go

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at th...

Photo of a dog behind a chain-link fence at the Paws and More No Kill Animal Shelter in Washington, Iowa. I took this picture. This looks just like my dog Yuma. He was from a shelter in Evanston Il. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were too many people inside my parents house. They talked too loudly so I slipped out the door in my black down coat and covered my cold, red ears with an old gray hat and crouched behind the bushes. They were probably all drunk.  The clinking of glasses sounded like mirrors being shattered. I didn’t care if it was my mother’s birthday party. Who did they think they were to have a place this garish when they didn’t need it? It was all for show.

Unfortunately, I’m their 18-year old misfit daughter, Lindsey. I embarrass them all the time by the way I talk, the way I dress. They are pretentious and all they care about are their fancy clothes and their BMW cars, glossed so they gleam in the light.  If you asked either my mother or father if they knew anything personal about any guest invited they would come up blank. Their uplifted, tightened faces would freeze and they would change the subject: “Would you like another drink, darling?” These are all plastic people, acquaintances to be used to just get ahead. They really don’t know about each others children, lives, troubles, they just need each other like the stepping-stones to get to their private yachts. I despised them all.

I’ve never been used to the amount of money that my parents would throw at me as if to entertain me. “Here, darling, here’s five hundred dollars, go buy yourself something” my mother would say, waving her hand away.  “Umm”I said, just standing there, silently pleading for her to look at me. She never glanced over. Our conversation was over, she tried to buy my love with money. As if. I wasn’t stupid, I stashed that money away and I had a huge pile saved up in my sock drawer.

Later that night, I shoved all my money in my a bag, took the keys to my dad’s car and left. I was going to my boyfriend Adam’s house, the only person I loved and trusted. I had done this many times before. My parents never even knew I was gone.

In the morning I went with Adam to the *animal shelter where we worked. I loved it there. This was a place where I could go and feel love, unconditional love and I never wanted to leave. My parents would never let me adopt a dog but I had always wanted one since I was a little kid. I begged and pleaded but my mother refused; she didn’t want a dog to “mess up her carpet.” That pretty much summed up our family.

Adam and I had worked at the shelter for about a year now. We cleaned and held the puppies and fed them, stroked their soft fur, wiped out their smelly cages, fed them and gave them water. Then we walked and cleaned the older dogs, same thing every day but it never got boring. Me and one dog who was about a year old were best friends. I named him Rex and he was special to me. I was going to adopt him that very same day.

I hated my life here and Adam hated his. Adam, Rex, and I were going out on the road.  I would never have to see my parents again and I knew if they looked for me at all, they would stop in a week. I was an embarrassment to them. I didn’t fit in with them but Adam and I fit together. Rex was MY dog, and we knew, when we set out that day, we would never ever, look back.

*Both my dogs are from animal shelters, please save a life if you can.

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WRITE RAW: That’s the price of admission (no editing)

“I didn’t want to belon in their stupid club, I told you that, Mom, I said I didn’t want to but you didn’t listen. You never listen. I said NO. why did you have to push me and talk to others to get me in to a place I didn’t want to go in the first place. Why? To embarrass me as you usually do? No, don’t give met hat “I thought you would have a good time” I said I hated that place and you know it. You lied to me because I said I wanted to stay with Dad this summer. He said he might call, so he hasn’t yet, so what? There’s another week and a half, he could call by then. Why don’t you ever give him or me ghe benefit of the doubt?

Anyway, I’m not going there, no chance. So not. I am not going to that obnoxious club with those stupid girls that think the only thing more important than getting a tan is going into Abercrombie and buying 30 dollar tee shirts. Uh-uh, no way.Why are you saying I’m being unreasonable, you’re the one that is being unreasonable. Compromise? Fine, I’ll try it for a few days but that’s it. You can’t force me, I’m NOT being fresh, fine, ok, I’ll go and try to give it a chance but maybe I will hear from dad and then all bets are off. Deal?”

I went into my room and closed the door firmly, I was in enough trouble already for talking back to my mom and refusing to go to the swim club she enrolled me in. It;s not that I didn’t really want to go but I was so hoping I could stay with my dad in San Francisco like he promised this summer. I hated thinking he had broken another promise and that’s what I was really mad about. I brushed the tears away from eyes quickly, my spiky black-blue hair stood up and I muffled my sobs in an old bandana that my dad got me when I was  little. My parents divorced when I was 5. I’ve lerned never to expect anything from him but it still hurts, kinda.

He never called, not that day or even that week. When I called him he didn’t even remember what I was talking about. he was a big deal record producer and he was usually high as a kite so i tried not totake it personally but I was upset and i knew my mom could see it. We just didn’t talk about it. I decided to go to the swim club because I had literally nothing else to do, all my friends were supposedly there and sitting in the house for one more day with my mother and aunt was jsut not an option.

I didn’t even tell them I was going, just drove to the club, with my towel and some food and went in, they didn’t even check my pass, well, because they knew me and I guess my name was written down there. I sat with some of the cool kids that were there, they acrtually iinvited me to sit with them so I did. They were complaining about their summers so I told them about mine and my dad and they thought it was awesome that he was a record producer and all that.When the life guards weren’t around someone brought out a couple of joints and passed them around. I had never smoked them before but hey, I was bored nad my mother forced me to come here so I thought why not? She said she wnted me to come here, well I was smoking dope now, that’s the price of admission, as I lay ther stoned out of my head and lying back in the sun.

I went back every day, smoking every day, drinking beer too. My mom didn’t notice a think except my eyes were red and I told her it was from the chlorine. My friends and I hung our all day and night together, we got pretty trashed but it was something to do. I HAD wanted to go to San Francisco with my dad but I guess he was too busy for me, well, I don’t want to go there anymore. I’m happy here with my friends, smoking weed, every single day.

Carry On Tuesday: “So good to be be believed in once, so good to be remembered…..”

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The dreams of childhood – its airy fables, its graceful, beautiful, humane, impossible adornments of the world beyond ; so good to be believed in once, so good to be remembered when outgrown.

I am the mother of two children. “Children”, I laugh to myself, “children, no more!” My daughter is a skip away from eighteen, my son, soon to be twenty in a few months. Once I was everything to them, now, nothing much. Yes, they still come to me when they are hungry but they do not come with sticky kisses and hugs that curl around my knees like sloppy green caterpillars. No, it’s been many years since that has happened.  They yell throughout the house “what’s for dinner” or “I’m hungry” and even though they are fully capable of cooking their own meal but it is still nice to be needed, once in a while, in this small, insignificant way, although I am quick to reprimand them. It ‘s something. I know they love me, they just don’t show it; my husband and I have done a good job bringing up two wonderful, independent young adults. It’s not their fault that once in a while I feel so lonely.

When they were three and five, it was a magical time. A time for believing in Batman and monsters, pink princesses and glitter pixie dust. An innocent time and I was the one they truly believed in for anything. I could right any wrong, make any hurt feel less painful. I could vanish fears before bedtime or sing them lullabies, sitting exactly equally between their rooms so they could fall asleep. It was a truly special time, it felt “so good to be believed in once.”

Now, that is all left in the past. We are all moving on, this childhood home will be child-less come late August with two teenagers headed to college. Yes, there is a small part that wonders what my husband and I will talk about, what do we have in common except our off-spring? Perhaps we will talk about the puppy I adopted to avoid the complete empty nest. I don’t know, I will have to wait and see; we are all in this together. Together but alone.

Last year we adjusted when our first born son went to college and the three of us shifted in our dynamics, making more time to chat with our daughter, our “baby” and watched her grow an incredible amount. Dynamics between siblings are often fraught with competition and jealousy. It was nice to see our daughter for one year sans her older brother. I am the younger sister too, I understand her feelings.

We will watch them grow up through tales of college and on vacation, perhaps they will see us in a different light, slightly removed. It’s not a bad thing, it can be a very positive and mature thing. Maybe they will appreciate us more or understand one day in the future, what it is like to be a parent. To love a child so unconditionally, with every fiber of your being that while the umbilical cord is cut, the attachment is forever. I hope they understand one day what it is like to be a parent and even more, I pray that I am alive to see it. I hope to be sitting on the lumpy beige sofa with matching fluffy yellow and red pillows with you, my dear husband, chatting, joking and whispering to each other about what OUR children were like, joking with our grandchildren: because once your own parenting days are over it feels “So good to be remembered when outgrown.” It is their job now to parent, not ours any longer, we have moved out of the inner circle to the outer circle and we need to accept that as graciously as we possibly can. It all falls under the circle of life. People change; we all do, we must accept it, not fight with it, with God’s blessings. Amen.

I’m Stepping Back, Alicia (Fiction)

Deutsch: Ein Straßenverkehrsunfall in Kopenhag...

Dear Alicia,

Oh no, not again, you did not just pull that smirk on your face again. I told you Alicia, I would not put up with it anymore and I mean it. I have brought you up like one of my own and you have just crossed the line. I will give you your space, I will not smother you with kisses or even try to gently hug you when I feel the winds of icy coldness come wafting from you. I know better. Am I disappointed? Sometimes. Heck, yes.  Apparently, that has to be my problem, not yours. I can deal with that but I am not going to be hurt any longer. If anyone has to toughen up, it’s me. You’re too tough. Sometimes I wonder what your dearly departed parents would think? I know I did my best.

You have enough armor up around you that you won’t let any emotions get to you; you are going to miss a great deal of life, girl. I mean that sincerely, with my heart. You are young but growing up will be hard for you if you don’t open yourself up to learn from the lessons in life, learn to give, to feel, to be sensitive to others. You need to feel for other people and not just for yourself. I hope you will able to learn that one day. I tried to teach it to you and failed, Life will have to teach you the hard way. I just hope it’s not too late for you to learn and I fear it may be.

I took you in as an infant after your mom and dad were killed in the car crash; you never knew them. To us, you were like our own little girl growing up in our family just as your mom and dad wanted. Of course we told you the truth and we kept your mom, my sister, and my brother in-law alive to show you what good people they were. It was an accident, Alicia, it wasn’t our fault.

Be the person you want to be, I will not hold you back.  I will accept you and love you but I will no longer be treated with disrespect and utter annoyance. I am still the mother that raised you and there is a certain amount of decorum that needs to be maintained. I am trying not to care as much, it isn’t hard to do if I can stay on top of things and not take things too personally.

We are opposites, I know. One person brimming over with emotion, the other barricaded inside. It doesn’t mean that there is no love between us because there is a lot of love. Hopefully you will see that clearly, maybe one day you will act nicer to me, to your dad and brothers and sisters too.

I will always love you and I will always be here for you. You know that. Please remember dear girl, that I lost my sister, my best friend and I miss her dearly. You should know that all your mom and I wanted for you is your happiness. Parents are human beings, we all have flaws,we are not perfect. Parenting doesn’t come with an instruction manual, we do the best we can, we don’t have all the answers but we try our hardest.

I love you, Alicia but I need to love myself too.

I will always be here if you need me.

Love, Aunt, Janis

Would You Like Some Whine With Your Cheese?

English: Individually wrapped slices of Americ...

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ON PARENTING: TODDLERS AND TEENS

I’m looking back, way back to when my children were small and life seemed uncomplicated and I felt deeply loved. Our two children, twenty-one months apart, were in grade school, only one school year apart and we were busy all the time.We had just acquired two goldfish that my son and daughter won at a school carnival, aptly named “Ball One” and “Ball Two.” Hard to forget those names. There was also a time when my son named his snail TJ for his and his sister’s initials with the sworn promise (including a pinky swear) from her that the next year she would return the favor and name the snail JT. She ended up naming the snail Sarah Allie after her teacher and I don’t things were ever quite the same after that. That innocent little snail became a reference for many years to come.

When my daughter, the baby of the family, now seventeen, was little, she was terribly shy. No one but I existed for her. “Up” she whispered to me, her arms outstretched for me to pick her up. I always did with great pleasure and pride. The feeling of being loved is a rare gift. At 17, she barely nods in my direction now. I admit that I mourned that loss of affection. Once in a while we will have an easy, fun, conversation, most often I feel like I’m walking on egg shells getting icy death stares from her.

I know it’s the teenage years but ask any mom how she feels about this stage, with sons and daughters, and if she is honest she will tell you that sometimes it really stings. Sometimes one’s child is so intentionally mean that you need to escape behind the locked bathroom door, run the water quickly and sob. You get over it, you have to, there is no choice. You are the parent, not a friend, you need to set the example. Bold, provocative taunts are so direct, they bore into me like lasers. Ouch, yes, they do hurt. We are parents, not robots. We have feelings too.

When our older son was little he was everyone’s friend. Outgoing, verbal, a politician. In restaurants he would wave to strangers and if they didn’t wave back, he was sad and confused. When he was two and a half he used the word “compromise” to one of the members of our baby birth- class reunion. This other dad refused to believe him and asked him on the spot, interrogating him like a lawyer; without skipping a beat our son said “if Mommy and Daddy say I have to go to bed at seven and I want to go to bed at nine, we compromise so I go to bed at 8 in the middle.” Suck on that disbeliever. There were no more follow-up questions from the parent as he headed sheepishly back to his own drooling toddler.

The introduction of a baby sister to our son when he was only twenty-one months old was fairly easy for him, after all, she bought him a “cozy coupe.” There were a few occasions when he asked when “we would be returning her?” or “giving that baby back?” but that’s understandable. His position as first and only child had been usurped after a very short time.

I vowed that if I ever had a son, it was my calling to make him a loving and kind young man. He is everything I hoped he would be and more. We can read each others emotions in a blink of an eye or laugh at something no one else understands. It is different but equal with my daughter as we look to each other with “girl power” over the boys. My daughter has a close relationship with her father which makes me proud, I too was extremely close to my dad when he was alive. A daughter’s first relationship should reflect the one she had with her dad, and I couldn’t be happier.

I love both my children the same amount. It’s like saying do you prefer your left arm or your right? They are both part of me. But, connecting with them on an emotional level is different; it has to be, each child has their own, unique personality!

They are children no longer, they are adults, making their own decisions and know that we are here for them, always. Whenever they want to come “home” to ask for advice or to be a child again during college breaks, we look forward to seeing them. I usually get so excited the night before seeing them that I can’t sleep. We will miss you both next year. We love you and we like you and we are so proud of both of you. Truly and of course, Equally.

Early Bird or Night Owl

Old?

Elderly Couple – Vintage

Early bird or night owl? Are these the only options? I’m neither. Oh dear, I think I am old. With one child in college and another child a senior in high school, I am able to sleep later in the mornings. Do I stay up late and party? I hate to confess, the answer is no. Maybe, instead of just old I’m also dull. Great…. I used to want to go to sleep before my husband or after for peace and quiet and lately, I love having him near me as we both fall asleep together. He was away for four weeks so maybe I’m just appreciating him more now.

I’m boring too. Gasp! It’s true. I never was a drinker, was always more of a homebody, even as a teenager, so I guess I’m still the same. I write, I read, I am now addicted to Pinterest (which I can’t pronounce.) I used to be much more independent when I was single and lived alone, before I got married. I stayed out late with friends, we went to dinner after work, to the Village, to the movies. We were out late and up late fearlessly taking the subways at all times of the night. Sometimes when I came home late, I then rearranged the furniture in my studio apartment or cleaned until 3am with my music blaring and me dancing like the Jennifer Beals in Flashdance (a movie from the seventies.) When you are YOUNG and living by yourself, it’s “fun.” You would have to have me lifted by a crane to do ANY cleaning at any time except during my normal waking hours. I’m neither an early bird or a night owl. What does that make me? I’m 55 years old and yes, I do have a few chronic illnesses that make me more tired but they are not life-threatening. I’m going to give myself a break (for once) and just say “I’m normal.”

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The Best Holiday Gift – EVER

Our Kids Are Simply AMAZING

This year, when the family agreed NOT to exchange presents because of last year’s horrific mess financially…our two amazing teenagers totally surprised us. We didn’t have a clue that they were even thinking about giving us a present but on Christmas Eve at 11:48pm, our nineteen year old son started dragging a huge present from the outdoor shed, inside. Our seventeen year old daughter watched and stood next to him as he nervously spoke:

“I’m really nervous about this present, we wanted to get you something that was house related so that the two of you would have something new….we hope you like it…”. We were stunned at the mere size of the gift not even knowing the contents. IT was an outside fire pit for when the nights were chilly, my kids know that I love fire in the fireplaces on cold, snowy nights…this was just the MOST AMAZING, CREATIVE GIFT we have ever gotten. How incredible are our kids? The fact that they even wanted to give us a gift, something to give us happiness in our finally repaired house, is the most thoughtful gift I/we have ever received. Personally, I love everything about a fireplace, watching flames and now this…..To our wonderful kids, the best human beings I know, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts. WE LOVE IT and as always, WE LOVE YOU MORE. Love, Mom and Dad

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Going Crazy Fast

Crazy Gia
I want to drop, like a rag doll, on the wet-soaked grass, kick my arms and legs, up and down and scream. Holler. Curse. I want to have a tantrum worthy of an overtired three-year old child that has had too much sugar and not enough sleep and way too many unanswered demands. No inhibitions and no one, not even “The Nanny” could try to calm me down because I can’t be talked down today, no, not today.

Things are closing in on me and I’m having a meltdown and I feel like I’m going crazy. It started as soon as I woke up way too early this morning. My seventeen year old daughter slept her day off from school while I walked the dog, purchased my cherished coffee from Starbucks and tried to absorb Vitamin D, my head pointed towards the sun on an old, run down wooden bench. The world seemed tilted left, all too much to one side, off-balance, like a triangle gone awry, unsteady.

There are those days, now far too common, when the whole day and night feel off. This evening I had a scare, in front of my dog, when she was scratching herself viciously and I felt a lump in her fur and then I couldn’t find it again. How could I not find it again? I kept looking but I didn’t feel it or see it and she looked at me with those melting, trusting brown eyes. I was ashamed I couldn’t find it again and worried so I cried a little, gave her a cookie, nuzzled her neck and she was happy. I felt only a bit better but still not quite right. I’m worried about her so I will calm down and take her to the vet next week so he can calmly examine her.

My feelings scared me tonight.  I brought home a piece of shiny, honey drenched baklava from the diner so I can drown my sorrows in sweet syrup. Believe me, yes, I will resort to that low or that high, depending on the way you look at things. I will spare no expense to body or mind to make myself feel better tonight and to promise myself a better tomorrow. I know it doesn’t always work. It didn’t help at all, there are too many issues going on at once.

I have been stuck in this one room with the whole family for three months now and the walls are closing in on me. Our house is not ready to move back in yet but closer than before; maybe all the tension is starting to release now, now that it looks like the house may actually get fixed in real time.  Maybe I am starting to breath now instead of holding it in and the anger is starting t0 come out.

I want to sleep all the time, because right after my dreadful birthday in October the clock moves straight to here, the horrible time period: my deceased father’s birthday on the 13th 0f November straight through to Thanksgiving and Christmas, Chanukah and New Year’s Eve, the night he died and then New Year’s Day, my parent’s wedding anniversary. I kick it up a notch and remember January 5th, my grandmother’s birthday (my father’s mother) and the day we buried my father. Come January 6th, deep in the winter months I can start to breathe, that is until next year. But, as an insightful person and psychiatrist once said: ” I guess every November stinks for you.”

Genius.

Happy Birthday, Son

Candles spell out the traditional English birt...

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It’s two days before my son’s 19th birthday and for the first year ever, he’s not with me, his mom and his family. It’s his first year of college and he is having an incredible time; I couldn’t be happier. But, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss him today and that the thought of him made me cry with selfish sadness. I feel sentimental about my boy, now a fine young man, and I have to get used to the fact that he will be spending his birthdays partying with his friends for many years to come. I know his family is still important but we are in the background now and one day in the future he will celebrate his birthday with his own family.

He is perfectly fine spending his birthday away from his family, it’s just me feeling a little blue. Can you blame me? Wasn’t it just yesterday that I shopped for Thomas the Tank Engine? Or even the horrible fighting games for X Box 360 that we reluctantly bought him when he was older?

I know he still remembers his favorite surprise “Batman” party when he was four when his cousin and his aunt flew up for the party; that was an event he will always remember. Our daughter, his little sister, was terrified of “Batman” and clung to our mother’s helper, Erin, for dear life. He went from “Batman” to beer in a hurry, it seems. I guess I haven’t completely caught up.

Of course I sent him a birthday box last week with sweet treats and a card with a check but I just feel something is missing. That something is him. Right about now I would have been wrapping packages and scurrying to find the special cards that I bought and saved. We would put his presents on the “birthday table” and wait for him to wake up and find them. The whole family would always crowd around the birthday girl or boy, mom and dad. It was always a lot like Christmas every year. Birthdays are really big in our house. Huge.

So on Thursday, I will be wishing my first-born a happy birthday over the phone; I’m scared to “skype” with him because I think I will cry. No matter what, even if I say one word, he will know my infamous “shaky voice” and I don’t want to share that with him on his birthday, his special day. That’s just the type of kid he is, he picks up other people’s feelings in a second, picks up on the same emotional radar that I have. I love you for being a great kid and a wonderful young man. I’m happy and proud to call you my son.

Happy Birthday

Love Always, Mom

Mama Can’t Hide

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Logo of Target, US-based retail chain

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Stuffed Animals

Even when I need a time out from my teenagers or husband or just some alone time, I take the car keys, hop into my car and go. However, there’s no real mystery involved. Everyone in my family knows that if I need to get away, I will end up at Target. I have no true hiding place, they assume that I will be there and they are absolutely right. What is it about Target that makes me feel so good?

I can disappear in many different aisles, I can look at every toothpaste and deodorant that one can buy and there are hundreds of choices. I can look for inexpensive clothing or books, art supplies or Halloween candy. I can pretend I have a five-year old and look at stuffed animals even though I am always tempted to buy one for myself. I can buy trash magazines or just read them while I am waiting on-line. I can even have a cup of Starbucks coffee. Who could ask for more than that? In our Target store there is a Starbucks mini-store; I’m not convinced that the coffee is just as strong as the original Starbucks but it is reassuring to me that it’s there and available. At Starbucks I can also get my latest passion which is the Pumpkin Spice (skim) Latte, limited edition of course.

When I walk through the aisles I see things that I can’t imagine I have lived without before. The new Swifter combo package? A must have. Shampoo and conditioner as a value pack? We all need to wash our hair and it MUST be less costly if they are packaged together!  I buy birthday cards in advance and usually misplace them right before a birthday card is needed so I go back and buy some more.

I disappear in the arts and craft section buying pens and sketch notepads.  I love pens and flashlights and Raisinettes. There are some things you need to keep with you in case of an emergency. Rasinettes are my safety item.

While I may not be able to hide from my family, it’s still fun to be away and close enough just in case they need me.