Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chronically Parenting


So I'm going to admit to officially striking out in the techNO department which leaves me in a quandary ... do I call a son and risk parental rejection or do I PM a ten year old and have them show me how in five seconds?

Sons. I've got four of them ... all "grown ups" and two within striking distance. It's not easy being being me ... and I'm sure it's not easy being them, having a disabled mother. I mean, they're from West Michigan with a mother from NY. Strike one. Divorce. Strike two. The disability of their sole custodial parent? That's gotta be worth more than a couple of strikes. Yet we all kept and keep getting back up. Every one of us. Every time.

Thank G-d (and I mean that literally) I only had one son left at home when I became unable to work but for years while in college, #1 son shuttled me to and from the ER. Number Two was off seeking his bliss, and #'s 3 and 4 were JUST in middle school.

Middle school isn't easy for ANYONE (I used to teach the little dears) let alone those with family issues. While I tried with ALL my being to be the perfect mom, having no energy; high fevers; and no diagnosis did NOT factor into that equation. It was hard for THEM and there were times all I could give "it" and them was some mental energy and a LOT of prayer. Now, as 20-30 somethings it pains my heart to hear some of them say they raised themselves. Did they? Yeah on some levels ... but not emotionally. Even on my worst days I know I was emotionally "there" and on good days, if not all days, I'm not sure it's horrible for a 12 year old to do their own laundry.

As they aged they all got jobs (good, good) but there was a poignancy in knowing I was unable to work and they not only could, but did. Hours. LONG hours none of their peers put in. It was not infrequent for someone to miss dinner at home due to work, come home at 10:00 or 11:00, make their OWN dinner, and then start their homework. Despite the some of the myths, chronically ill people in bed don't really sleep. At least not this one. I "twilight" during the times I appear to sleep ... being in some place between sleep and wakefulness, where I'm both able to dream and be quasi aware. And aware I was, on many nights, of a son or sons at work in the wee hours of the morning. Doing homework. Finally having "private time" (we introverts will take that whenever we can get it.) Actively, yet silently thinking. I still feel a sharp pang when I see TV commercials about underprivileged youth taking a train to work, carrying garbage bags down several flights of stairs for hours, reading a homework assignment on the way home ... and then coming home to a mom in bed. My kids were/are not underprivileged and they did not have to ride a train ... but night after night, year after year, that was their life, their lives.

My baby, the one who was a senior in high school the year I spent on the couch sobbing about missing teaching ... the thought of that year catches my heart and in my throat EVERY time it crosses my mind. As the youngest of four he did NOT get the attention any of his brothers did when he was a child and I mourned that. I wondered if he would ever know ME. The me I never got to be with him. Or if I would ever know HIM. The person he was/is when not with a brother or three. Until he was 18 and I was 51 it didn't happen. Oh, we had moments, plenty of them. But not the time an INFJ mom needs with her children. And not the time another introvert needs with his mom. I'd have NEVER chosen that opportunity for time spent, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. The year I got to be there, fully foggily there when he came home from school, from work, from time with friends ... was its own sort of amazingly perfect mother and child reunion.

I know I've apologized to them for being sick at least a million times. They know it's not my fault, I know it's not my fault, and yet I do it still. WHY? Because it beats sobbing, "I am SOOOOO not the mother I wanted to be to you. I am SOOOO disappointed" every time I see them. Because they are, too.

Are they all amazing young men now? Yes, by the grace of G-d; their own hard work; and a mom who was a mom ... from the couch.


Thank you. Really. I actually went for the shameless self promotion and have three new followers. Oy, who knew this would become a bright spot in my day?

Ok. I'm been given hints on imbedding information so am going to give it a go again.

Yeah. THAT didn't work. I hit the picture icon, put in the url, hit upload, and NADA.

One more time w/vigor.

Maybe it's not a picture? Looked like one to me.

Let's see what happens.


Another try.

Ok.I see it imbedded in there. Really.

Now let's try the picture version.

Ok. I did all the steps and clicked "done." Sooooo obedient.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Reinvention Number 9.

Of course those gentle readers too young to have lived through listening to The Beatles "Number 9" backwards to see if Paul McCarty was REALLY dead probably don't get the INCREDIBLE humor of the title of this entry.

But no, I am not dead and, yes, I'm gearing up for another reinvention.

Let's list 'em.

* Foster child
* Adoptee
* College Student
* Wife
* Mom
* Wife/Mom
* Divorced Person
* Mom
* Teacher/Mom
* Graduate Student/Teacher/Mom
* Teacher/Mom
* Disabled ME/CFS patient/Mom
* Disabled Lyme patient (The kids have all graduated from college but I'm still a mom. And a grandma!)

Feeling kind of IMPATIENT and ready to heal. Ok, I was ready for that in 2002 but think THIS is the year that brings a new level of healing. Done a TON of spiritual "work" (if you don't work on it, it doesn't count ... really); am seeing a counselor (NOT dating one, I'm the client) in an attempt to make smoother transitions, and am about to see the new Lyme doctor. Ok. But first comes the visit to the GRANDSON and parents.

In an attempt to feel less useless I've been knitting again. So far I have an incredible cool unfinished cowl scarf, adorable unfinished booties for a baby born in September, and two gifts cast on for my already here grandchild and for one I am awaiting. Yes, you heard me correctly, four unfinished projects. All I need to do is sew up the seam on the cowl and I can reduce it to three, but hey, I like even numbers. Actually, I prefer odd on MULTIPLE levels so I'll get that sewn up tonight.

Unto the reinvention. I've decided that worrying about not getting better isn't serving me well. Not well at all so I'm planning on what to do when I AM better enough to work from home. Not to worry, I'm not going to tell you what my "plan" is but it DOES involve owning a domain. Being the master or rather mistress of my own domain is a tad bit overwhelming to me. I mean, it's 10 bunks a year, how much commitment is that? Not much but it's the THOUGHT of commitment, the THOUGHT of ... whoa, this could WORK, that keeps me from registering

Now no one rush right out there and snap it up! I did want, of course, but some ACTRESS in England has it. Really? REALLY? Are you kidding me? I checked out her page, nothing too impressive, and so am pretty certain wasn't chosen because it's supposed to be MINE.

But first, I've got to conquer blogging. Someone PLEASE tell me how to insert photos and nifty stuff into this?

Does ANYONE read this? Throw me a bone, leave me a comment.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Testing, testing ...

Yup. I've got witnesses.

So here's today's mantra. Let's see if we can get this to work.

Ok. That didn't work. How do people get pictures into blogs???

I'm clearly insane as I'm trying the same thing expecting different results.

Someone tell me how to do this.

OH WAIT. One more try.

It didn't work.

Someone help a Lyme brain out, will ya?

Mid -January

NO WAIT. Only six more days until February!!!

It's official ... after a winter of non-winter, it's arrived. Since October I've been telling myself how fortunate I was that "it" hadn't hit and when it did, how it wouldn't bother me. Liar, liar, pants on fire. It bothers me. And not just a little. I Do Not Like Winter.

Yes, it's true I enjoy watching the changing landscape but now that it's all white, what's to watch?? Last weekend I DID make it out to lunch with one of my four favorite sons and took pictures of a pussy willow tree budding. I was so agog that I stopped in the middle of the street to snap some photos, much to the chagrin of my favorite almost 25 year old.

So, I've felt a whooooole lot of "chronic" lately and not so much "living." I do get regular updates on my Little Dude who is sprouting by the day, and look forward to holding him in my own arms. He reminds me so much of a "James Boy" ... not that he isn't one and I'm enthralled w/the look of paternal love on his father's face. When his mother kisses him their lips join together to form a heart ... devastatingly grandmotherly touching.

But here's the BIG news. I've got a new specialist. Yup. Heading to DC in mid-March, just two blocks shy of the White House, to see if there's something that can be done about my Lyme/mold/MTHFR "issues." I'm excited! Scared and excited. Hopeful. Scared to be hopeful. Thankful to have been referred to such a brilliant mind and compassionate human. Grateful that the timing is PERFECT. And scared to be hopeful. I hope I've made that clear.

In channelling my inner Anne LaMott I long to wax witty about the exquisite torture of hope when there appears to be none, but I've got nothing. Nothing. Just, as I may have mentioned earlier, fear of hope. Or, to be truthful, of being let down One More Time.

My new digs are energy efficient and I'm liking that although I'll admit the combination of Lyme and winter make hibernation a good thing. And I am LOVING my comfy bed ... which ultimately means I don't use a lot of light. I sleep when I can and when I can't I look out the window. Plus, the mild winter has yielded some lower than anticipated utilities bills. Oh. A big THANK YOU to all who recommended both Smart Wool and Cuddle Duds. Makes for an easy wardrobe, as both come in the go-to color, black. IN addition to that lowered utility bill. I DID turn the heat up with my brother and SIL visited and during the holidays when family popped in.

So. I'd love to insert a picture or two or maybe even LINK to something, but I don't know how.

Got any ideas?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Less is More

Losing everything this summer has left me with more than enough lessons to last me a lifetime ... the greatest one being, "less is more." Yes, in another lifetime my mother gave me a cookbook entitled as such in anticipation of my marriage and impending wifelike responsibilities. That cookbook saw me through four kids and 20 years of marriage, and then saw the kids and me through many more years.

But the lesson was something I only grasped in part. You bet your life I could feed six people with one chicken for two nights and still make bone broth for later, but was that chicken soup part of my soul? Nope.

This summer I lived out of a TSA approved carry on containing two pair of black pants, two black t-shirts, two white t-shirts, a black sweater, a white sweater, a pair of flip flops and a pair of black flats. I did have two pair of earrings and a bracelet. For six weeks. And ironically, I didn't get tired of ANY of the items although I did long for a place to call my own.

And now I'm in it ... with a bed, a couch, four stools and a coffee table. "Less is More" in spades. I've been living this way for four months now, having celebrated the holiday season with various combinations of my offspring and their spouses/significant others. Would I like to have more belongings? Yes. Do I NEED more? Ok, yes. I was blessed to receive a financial gift two days ago that will allow me to purchase a dining room table. Being a researcher by nature I knew exactly what I both needed AND wanted and lo and behold, one became available at a local business for a price I can afford!! Now THIS is chronically living ... being able to meet a need in a manner of my choosing: purchasing wisely and from a local business. So, as we speak, somewhere in the midwest a shaker style cherry table is being built with my name on it, figuratively speaking of course. It's small enough to fit into my modest living quarters yet contains two self storing leaves that will enlarge it enough to hold my sons, their spouses/significant others, and myself.

I Am Thrilled.

Yet today, as I passed through the empty space I call "The Room" I realized that once a table is in there there will be less empty space ... space I've grown to love, if only because it allows me uninterrupted views of my fields.

So day by day I adjust again ... first to loss and now to rebuilding. A bed here, a couch there, and soon a table.

Health wise things have been much the same. Lyme treatment left me unable to swallow w/out great pain and so I backed off only to realize other symptoms returned with friends. I'm in a quandary ... do I damage some systems in order to help others? Do I play favorites with organs and body parts? If I think too much I can work myself into a snit of existential despair, sending me running for Netflix where I watch World War II documentaries ... not exactly an antidote!

I decided on a middle ground ... to go back to a familiar treatment and to do further research into various alternatives. I'm into Day Two and although none of the disturbing symptoms have abated I am reminded how much I enjoyed the three weeks of not living by medical alarms going off reminding me of what to take when, and being able to sleep when sleep came. At the moment I'm feeling a bit like one of the North Korean gymnasts I watched in a documentary this afternoon ... working for the greater good but hating it every step of the way.

At least today.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Another beginning -

More than halfway across the country in a different time zone a new beginning started at 5:00 AM this morning with the birth of my first grandchild. His parents were well prepared, but can anyone prepare for the roller coaster that is birth? He is here safely and "nursing like a champ" to the delight of both parents and all nurses involved.

I won't get to see him for another month or so but my mother was RIGHT when in 1980 upon first sight of the Lawyer she shrieked, "This is SOOOOO much better than actually HAVING a baby!" (And I'm adopted.)

I feel the same thrill, the same breathtaking punch in the gut of the WONDER of human life.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Closing Time

There's some song from my youth that recalls every something or other is a new beginning's end, but of course JUST when I want to remember it, I can't.

My youngest graduated from college last month ... which was oddly odd, given that it was maybe just a month short of his oldest nephew's birth. Something I, as a young parent, NEVER imagined would happen; something during his last year of high school I didn't think I'd live to see; and something that happened rather quietly on the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor campus on a Sunday afternoon. His brothers, our favorite Dane, and I sat together; and his father and wife sat elsewhere in the auditorium. Although I couldn't immediately find my son in the sea of maize and blue, others quickly pointed him out to me and I watched as he took his place with the other engineering students in their seats. The pomp and circumstance were quite impressive and I'll still readily admit I wish I had finished the PhD program I was in ooooooooh so long before my Lawyer was even a gleam in my anyone's eye, just so I could own an amazing hat, the kind that graced the heads of many on the stage, even if I only looked at it occasionally through a Space Bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And such gowns! Purple, red, fuchsia! Yet the woman who impressed me was simply garbed and hadn't even donned her cap. She had been one of the Lawyer's professor's on another campus. The keynote speaker was a professor not too far down the road from another Big Ten school ... the one once attended where the Lawyer was eventually born. My 1980 Baby sitting next to me.

But this was the year of my youngest Baby's graduation. I watched him so closely I thought I'd burn a hole in the back of his gown. The same gown as all the others, the same collar distinguished only by a gold honors braid, the same cap, the same tassel. Yet odd how one knows the back of one's child's head seated on the floor of Big Blue's basketball stadium. The angle at which it tilts at age two or 22. And how, if one is fortunate enough to see it, it will tilt at 52. The familiar look of boredom, or fatigue as it sets in. The arch of the neck, a head adjustment, a nod. And then, way too fast for this mother of four adult sons to take it all in, a degree is finished, glasses are raised, dinner is served, and the world has another mechanical engineer ready to enter its sales force. Christmas comes and goes. One year ends and another begins. The California Couple stays there awaiting the birth of their oldest. The Lawyer and Psychologist spend their first holiday season in their new home by visiting others ... knowing soon that the Midwest Holidays will soon be celebrated there as their own son or daughter will want to nap at home. The Dane has gone and returned from Denmark (and in fact, is a scant 15 minutes away with my Small Business Owner as I type this,) and the Engineer is verging on his own full bloom.

I shared a meal with him today as he prepared to head back from whence all good Engineers come. Just as parents joke about the oldest child being a guinea pig there are jokes about the baby of the family. I stood looking up at him trying to explain how proud I am of him, not just because of WHO is but because of well, who he IS (again, not what he's done.) Yet I'm proud of that, too, only because who he IS has allowed him to have done what he has. Of that I am proud. And I tried, unsuccessfully, not to call him my baby.

I'm proud of myself ... I really am. Four amazing young men. Yes, blessed with relative health (what's few autoimmune diseases among those who love each other,) brilliant minds and, pardon me for saying so, great looks and wit. Have their lives been corporately easy? Compared to many on this planet? Yes. Compared to many in their town? Yes. Compared to many in their school? Now I'll have to say "it depends." For as much as they've been blessed with they also contended with a lot others never have; and within such a homogeneous community that can't be easy for a kid. Even a guy with three brothers! Have they lead individually easy lives? Some more than others as their circumstances and temperaments vary. But as introverts and deep thinkers all, I'd say our household has seen more than its fair share of existential despair. But nary a dung beetle. So go me. I kept the beetles, locusts, and most other insects at bay while a mostly single mom, even when married, even when sick, and always chronically living.

I hugged him long, I hugged him hard, and I whispered prayers into his neck before he hopped back into his car chatting about picking up his "new whip" courtesy of the company later on in the week. And as he drove off into the slowly lengthening day tears rolled down my cheeks. My babies have all done graduated, growed up, and have lives and families of their own.

The Little Dude is due this week. His uncles and aunt are ready. Grammy Sue is waiting in CA. I'm keeping watch in the Midwest. The originally Grammy, now nigh unto Great Grammy, is battening down the hatches on the East Coast. The country is covered. Our family is growing.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Stay tuned. There are other new beginnings happening as we speak ...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 ... The Year of the Whimper

Let's face it, some years are better than others and some years should just be bypassed. I'm thankful to say that 2012 is over and I look forward to 2013. For the record, a quick rundown of the year. 1. Health: - Diagnosis of late stage Lyme Disease and a year of treatment. Reality: I just can't do all those ABX, darn it all. Am looking into alternatives. ALWAYS loves me those alternatives. - Diagnosis of a bunch of genetic stuff including the dreaded MTHFR gene. Of course. Reality: This is potential TREATABLE and LOTS of things may improve. 2. Personal life: - Diagnosis: Need a different place to live. Reality: I am finally in a safe place but only after six weeks of quasi homelessness. I am very thankful to have a generous family and friends. - Diagnosis: Lost everything to mold in a storage unit. Reality: Be very aware when reading contracts and extending belief in what one might consider the "integrity" of those who label themselves with spiritual words. - Diagnosis: Heartbreak. Reality: These things happen and I'm MUCH tougher than I had imagined myself to be. 3. Sons - Diagnosis: Still have four of them. Reality: Sooooo very thankful. And I am moving on ... figuratively. I am now about as "home" as I'm ever going to be. Life's good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year and to quote that cute little blonde in Poltergeist, "I'm baaaaack." 2012 was a doozy. A DOOZY ... and life has taken more twists and turns than I could have ever imagined possible for one relatively small peace loving woman. One of the BIGGEST challenges has been figuring out how to log into this here blog and this is a test. Only a test. More to follow. 2013. THIS is my year ... oh, yes it is. Stay tuned!!!