family

9-11 or 911 or…

As the days approach 9/11 I reflect back on this date for many reasons. For me, my reasons are nothing like those who lost loved ones that day many years ago and I acknowledge that. 

What I do get to think about is what I was doing on that day, who was with me and where I was at that stage of life. How the world seemed at a standstill after that event shattered the world. Similar to the blank state of mind where we have been stuck with Corona of late.

My parents were visiting for my middle child’s 1st birthday all those years ago. Unable to fly home due to the safety concerns. Almost 20 years later and more turmoil in the world. Again flights are limited or not recommended. Another date I’m missing my dad that I had with me in that memorable time but not today.

My son’s first birthday. How far he is from that pure innocent child at such a ripe age. Now a maturing adult navigating life in such a complex world. Not realizing he lived through 9/11. Twisting around looking at my daughter who wasn’t even born yet. She doesn’t even recognize the magnitude of 9/11. She has toured the area in NYC but still lacks the depth of my experience on that same day. Just interesting to think about.

When I titled this article 9/11 or 911 I did it accidentally but then wondered if there was a coincidence that the date 9/11 was chosen due to the significance of 911 or emergency call in our society? Maybe that’s a dumb question but honestly it’s the first time it hit me front and center. I’m sure the backstory is in one of the documentaries but I hadn’t really acknowledged that point until now. Almost 20 years later.

Maybe I have always thought of this date in different ways and didn’t notice that coincidence. What do you remember about this date? How are you impacted when the date surfaces each year? Do you see any similarities to the pandemic of today? Just a food for thought post. Looking back almost 20 years to see how the world has changed and how much people in your life evolve in such time. 

family

Feelings of Worry

Do feelings or worry keep you up at night or make sleeping restless? The answer for me is generally no.

However, as a mother I have had many sleepless night thanks to my kiddos. It could be when they were little without words crying. Was I doing the right thing as a mom? I could use the sleep but couldn’t sleep as I was carrying the worry burden in my mind.

Then it was when they had a cold, recovered from an injury, or even had surgery. Those seemed like tough scenarios at the time but nothing prepares you for aging kids. That’s when the grey hair comes.

There is even worry about me time. Am I being selfish making time for me when the kids could use x, y or z? Is there a capable spouse that could fill my void while I take some me time? Is my mental balance important even as a mom? Over the years feelings of worry hit at various times for various reasons resulting in sleepless nights. I think it comes with the mother territory but I don’t recall reading about it in the motherhood books.

Nothing in my mind prepares a mom for aging teens to early adults. When they drive a car will they be safe? When they leave your home to adult will they make good choices? Will they eat right? Will they make good financial decisions? So many scenarios that can be stressful if you allow it to eat away at you in your mind.

Most days I do a good job keeping those feelings at bay. However when it’s time
to lay down the law, apply pressure and push the aging kiddos, I wonder if they are ready. Did they mature? Do they have the mental toughness I had at that age? Am I being too hard?

Today’s world is complex. It doesn’t appear that kids mature at the level I was expected to at the same age. There is more coddling and hand holding. Is this society? Is it my parenting? How can one child fare okay and another struggle?

Thoughts at 4am to ponder. Do your kids even think you worry about them when they are adults? I know my mom worries and she is in her 80s. Did I make it home after a long drive? Am I too busy with work? The list goes on. But today’s kids think it’s more of a chore to check in. Why would anyone worry about me?-type attitude.

At what point does one mature and see the vantage point of others? Some days I think I’m mature. Other days I think I have plenty of growing to do. When I refer to maturity, I don’t mean physical maturity. I mean mature in life. Understanding the connectedness of people, emotions and so on.

Again just a random rant capturing the moments of sleep loss due to worry of a loved one. Another day no emergency phone call. I guess that’s a good sign for now. It’s my thought they think I have no worries but in fact they are my only worry.

Life as a mom is the hardest job in the world yet it’s the most rewarding. The job doesn’t pay money but it pays overtime in memories, experiences and keeps you on your toes.

Enjoy today. Live like there is no tomorrow. Regret nothing. Worry less. That’s my mom motto.

awareness

In the Dark

When I wrote a recent post called nightfall, I thought back to many other nights and the sounds that were different in life. A lot less peaceful. Scary. Bothersome. Then I thought I should share a different kind of nightfall. One many will never know and most would never enjoy.

The haunting night from a child’s eyes. One of many scary night scenarios that happen behind closed doors. Do you think you know what this story will be about?

Maybe you think know but I doubt you really could know unless you lived in these shoes. The sounds of the night that are not so bright. So here goes.

Boom! Wake up! A loud shriek from the other room. A bang on the wall. Now more pounding. A loud scream. That’s my brother making those noises. What is happening?

In the middle of the night it happened again!

What is it? Why am I wide awake? What time is it?

At first I didn’t know but then my parents explained it me.

Boom. Aaaaaaahhhhhh. Shake shake shake. Boom. Ahhhhhhhh. Ouch! Another high pitch shriek. A piercing duh duh duh duh duh sound on repeat. A fearful and painful scream.

That is my brother making those loud sounds as my parents rush to him. What is going on I asked?

Go back to bed, says mom.

I peek from my bedroom door. It is my brother having a seizure in his sleep.

My brother has had seizures since I was in my mommy’s tummy as a baby so I don’t know him any other way.

I love my big brother. He is the best big brother.

He can’t help himself when he has a seizure. It’s a medical problem.

Most people won’t understand seizures if they don’t get educated about them because people look okay on the outside but inside their brain they sometimes have a firework party that makes their whole body shake.

His body gets tight and shakes and he makes painful sounds for about 10 Or 20 seconds.

The time seems like hours when you have to watch your brother have a seizure but it’s only seconds.
Count 1 Mississippi
2 Mississippi
3 Mississippi
4 Mississippi
5 Mississippi…
6
7
8
9
10

See it’s not too long but now I have to try to go back to sleep. I have a test at school tomorrow. Wait so does my brother. Oh no.

My tummy hurts a little because I am worried about him. Mom says I have to sleep school starts early in the morning for both of us.

Just when my parents get him settled back to sleep,

it happens again. And again.

My parents say this is a cluster and I should go back to bed. But they don’t know I really watch my brother.

I watch him sleep to make sure he is okay. I don’t want him to hurt himself.

Oh no, here comes another one. Breathe my mom says breathe.

This is hard to watch. Even the sounds are hard to listen to.

My brother is so strong he can hurt somebody when he has a seizure. Watch out mom. She ducks as he flails and swings his arms and legs.

I watched him break a table when I was younger. I watched him hurt himself when had a seizure and bumped the wall too hard.

I wish the doctors could fix my brother but they can’t.

I am going to be a doctor one day. I want to help kids who have seizures. I wonder how many other people see seizures at night. My mom calls them nocturnal seizures. I call them terrifying.

Nightfall can be peaceful on many days in many environments however there can also be a darkness associated with nightfall. This example shows a glimpse into a medical environment that is extreme to some and normal to others.

Some children have a different fear of nightfall. The sounds of rage or alcoholism for example. These sounds play out a bit differently. Ponder those thoughts or scenarios as you set in for your nightfall. Somehow the sounds of crickets seems worlds away.

This post came from the vault. A vault of posts that are written but may not come to life until a later date. For this post it’s today.

As the world has changed so much with corona, some nightfalls have remained the same for some but magnified for others. Those with scary nights like the ones noted above still suffer on top of the uncertainties corona brings. It’s important to consider the burden of others who may not be as lucky as you when night comes.

challenges

Flexible, Agile, Pivot

These three words have come up multiple times in the past week.

First, from my friends in the teaching profession. Those are the three words they are being told to embrace as school begins in person (don’t say face to face it sounds too close) as we return to the buildings. Don’t plan too far in advance, as things could and probably will change day by day. In fact, since we started writing this post, we’ve already switched from in person to online school in many places to start the upcoming year.

Be flexible and ready to adapt to evolving conditions and unexpected challenges. Be agile, able to move quickly, efficiently and confidently from situation to situation. Pivoting to change direction is almost inevitable. With so many unknowns and twists and turns on the horizon those words are valuable to latch on to. For teachers who are trained to plan, abide by calendars, and be as routine and predictable as possible, it’s a bit against their training and possibly their nature. Time to rethink, reframe, and expand in a different direction, and help students and their parents do the same.

Me on the other hand, I giggle a bit on those three words. They represent my life In many ways, during a pandemic or just a routine Tuesday afternoon. All the twists and turns. All the adapting. The organized chaos I call life. I thrive under pressure and beg for adversity most days. It’s fuel to my fire.

Then the conversation hit on a Friday night at the ball field. We all had masks on. Following the rules. The sun was scorching despite the evening hours. I took my face mask down briefly for fresh air. It was still hanging on an ear. Technically I was wearing a mask. The directions didn’t specifically define what mask type, how it needed to be officially placed and so on.

Out comes a gentleman I knew well. He saw my mask and followed his glance with an affirmation (or was it an accusation?) of me not being a rule follower. That spurred a discussion that lingered. I am a rule follower. I just choose to follow the rules within the terms I choose. He implied that I am an A, B, C2-C3-C4 person. As if all the rules have an asterisk. Options within the boundaries.

Yes, that is correct. I always have a backup plan and C4 may be a good pivot point description for me. Explosive. Dynamite in a way. Always with a second, third and fourth plan. I call it depth. It’s layers deep. I make the rules work for me. It allows me to not only survive but thrive.

Some may see it as grey. Operating in the grey tones of life. Pushing the limits. Especially if the limits don’t make sense in certain situations. Staying in the black and white only confines me. Shades give life texture, interest, originality, make me memorable. For some, it makes them rewrite the rules with more care and specificity. It forces people to be agile in their mind and in their lives. But I am always at least one step ahead, if not more. Rewrite the rules and try to corral me. Just another challenge for me to find the gray and keep growing.

I see it for what it is. Depth, diversity, dynamic layers ingrained within. How the mask conversation turned into an unmasking of sorts

adventure

Taking the Scenic Route

IMG_2219

New (or new-to-me) cars don’t happen often in my life.

We usually drive our cars into the ground.  A car purchase is a big deal that comes along only once in a long while.

In my car history, I’ve graduated from sedans to minivans to sedans again.

Every car says a little bit about where I am in life.  Sedans for the independent girl paying for her first vehicle.  Minivans for the Mom of 3 carting kids and their pals and their stuff here and there.  Then sedans for the Mom looking for fuel efficiency, with some kids who can drive themselves.  And finally, as of this year all my kids can drive themselves. What a life change.  My youngest got my last sedan as her starter car.  Now what?

All the cars did have some things in common: gotta have a sunroof and a top-notch stereo.  My Mom was a convertible girl but I remember she always had problems with leaks and the mechanics of the tops in her LeBaron and Sebring.  So I stay with a sunroof.  And if you’ve ridden with me you know I like to sing loudly in the car, so my backup track needs to be high quality.

Anyway, the time came to choose a car and I lingered over the decision, as is my style.  I researched and figured out the exact car I wanted then sought it out for months.  I finally found it and after much waiting, anguish, car rentals, state line crossings, and other extraordinary measures, I bought my shiny red Jeep Compass Trailhawk this spring.

I’ve had it for a while.  I’ve tried to write about it several times but couldn’t seem to finish a post. I wasn’t sure what the story was or why anyone should care. I almost abandoned the idea to the cutting room floor.

But then last week I took her for her first true off-road ride.  I had my youngest and her friends on a weekend trip a few hours away for a lacrosse tournament. Instead of taking the most direct path via the interstate, I decided to chart a path to a waterfall hike.  It was sort of on the way but kinda not really.  It would take us off the beaten path, to a part of my state I had never visited.

I read the reviews of the hike and most of them said things like: be ready for a long off-road drive to get to the trailhead.  You need a 4×4 to get there.

And lo and behold, I have one! Yippee! Put me in, coach! I’m ready for this.

I was a bit nervous since we’ve had a lot of rain, but the road was mostly rock and gravel. We played with the road settings. I took it slow for the most part. The kids laughed as I splashed through muddy puddles.  Got some Georgia red clay on the tires and my flashy paint job. It was a long drive in and out but the hike and the experience were worth it.

I am at the point in life where I’m taking the scenic route more and more. Instead of just saying “I wish I had more time to…” (hike, chase waterfalls, stop at the sights and shops along the way), I am making the time. And no one can do that but me.   I want to see new things.  A little mud, a little rock, whatever obstacles can’t stop me from getting where I want to go.  A little prepared for anything.  I can tow things and have a few friends and our stuff along.  I can see the sun and play my beats stereo loud.

It’s a different, off-road life for me.  A little more dare, a little more fearless, a little more nothing-can-stand-in-my-way. No limits. No barriers. No exclusions.

They say the most difficult roads lead to the most beautiful destinations.  I’m embracing that as a challenge and a reward, for the journey and all that comes with it.