Her Mother’s Eyes


Riley steps out of the shower and I put the towel around her, draping it over the top of her head so just her face peeks out. I pat her dry a bit then hold her by the shoulders and stare into her eyes.

Somehow in this mundane moment, I am overcome. I love her so much. I remember her little face peeking out of the towel when she was a baby. Those same huge, innocent eyes. She smiles at me.

“Riley…when you look into my eyes, what do you see?”

I want her to remember it. This feeling of her mom looking into her eyes and loving her. I want it in her bones. In every cell of her body. She’s growing up on me. I want her to remember this, if nothing else from her childhood. Her mother’s eyes full of love for her.

She looks at me thoughtfully, and replies, “sockets.”

Bumper Stickers/Indie Publishing/Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar

One of the most challenging parts of publishing your book independently is self-promotion. You have to walk the fine line between getting it out there, and not tooting your own horn too much. Using social media to your advantage, but not annoying people.

I’m also fighting a different issue.

I went ahead and made these bumper stickers. I love them. I think they came out just perfect. They are intriguing. As an avid reader I’d look up the book for sure, if I saw the bumper sticker on the back of someone’s car.

The problem is actually putting it on my car. Now, we’re not generally bumper sticker people. Too worried about our cars’ finishes (which is funny because we don’t have fancy cars), but anyway…I bought some magnetic paper to stick to the back so that isn’t the issue.

The problem is the title. DAUGHTER OF THE DRUNK AT THE BAR.

There is still shame.

But what exactly do I have to be ashamed about?

My father spent more time in a bar, than he did at home. He didn’t take care of us. Little kids think it is their fault. If they were somehow more lovable, they could change it. In their minds, DAUGHTER OF THE DRUNK AT THE BAR = Not good enough. Not worth it.

The adult me knows this isn’t true. She knows it’s good business sense to advertise her book in any way she can.

The little kid me fears the person behind me at the traffic light will scoff.

So the grown up me takes the little girl’s hand, and together, for all the daughters, they slap that baby on both cars.

No shame little one. No shame.

* If you by any chance, would like to help me promote by slapping one on your own car, e-mail me your address and I’ll get one to you. Thanks so much for your support.

lifeorileyo @ gmail.com

Pass it through the window…

We’ve just discovered our deck. This sounds ridiculous, we’ve lived here for over three years, and have hardly ever spent time on our deck. For one thing, it was ugly. But this summer, Todd threw a couple coats of sealer on it, and it looks so much better. And then we got new windows.

You see, there is not a door which leads directly to our deck. You have to go out a side door, and around, and well….apparently that was just too much energy for me to expend before. Sad, yes. But with new windows, I can easily open the kitchen window (couldn’t do that before), creating a pass through, where I can hand cups and plates and we are enjoying eating outside on these beautiful end of summer evenings.

One night recently, I’d poured glasses of water, and asked Riley to help me get them outside before dinner. I said, “You can pass it through the window.” She smiled, and then started going out the side door with two glasses.

“No, Riley…you can pass them through the window.”

She paused and headed toward the door.

“Riley…look, we can put it through the window. Dad’s standing there waiting for you to hand the glasses to him.”

“Oh! I thought it was just an expression,” she said.

And it occurred to me, if you don’t understand expressions, anything could be an expression.

And it occurred to me just how brave my little girl is, as she navigates this confusing world.

Yippee’s Photo Shoot

Why yes! My children did watch ET for the first time recently. How did you know?

This is actually the first time Seth has commissioned me to write a blog post. I have not figured out what my fee will be, but he’s gonna pay.

‘Cause I for one, have way more important things to do than sit around taking pictures of Chihuahuas all day. I don’t even like Chihuahuas.

Not even a little.

They’re not even cute.

The boy is lucky his mama has mad editing skilz. Looky here how I got rid of Yippe’s little red eye problem below. Voila!

I think Seth owes me about 100 kisses.

Yippee would only be too happy to deliver them.

Sometimes I think life is just one big misunderstanding

Yesteday, we attended a child’s birthday party at a local public pool. There was a boy at the pool, (not part of the party), a teen, who flapped his hands, walked on his toes, and squealed a lot. In the water, he was happy.

Also in the pool, were two men, maybe in their late sixties. They were walking in the water, having a conversation. Getting their exercise while they got their chat on.

At one point, the boy, in his joy, dove into the water, right between them, making a big splash.

One of the men got in the boy’s face and shouted, as he wiped his glasses, “WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU? WHY WOULD YOU JUMP RIGHT IN BETWEEN US LIKE THAT?”

The boy looked at him, clearly confused, cowering slightly, then went on his way, swimming away from them like a fish.

I wanted to yell at the man, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see he has autism?” But the moment was over, and I wasn’t 100% sure, and anyway….

—-

Today I was at Whole Foods. I had a small cart full. At the checkout an employee came over and said, “I know you’re over the limit, but I’ll take you in the express line. We’re a little short staffed today so I want to help out the other cashier.”

As she scanned my pile of items, a mother/teen daughter duo approached from behind. They were obviously in a hurry. Both proceeded to glare at me and sigh, my haul clearly over the limit.

I decided rather than reacting or apologizing or explaining, to merely allow myself to be misunderstood. Sometimes it just isn’t worth the energy.

There is a lesson in A Course in Miracles which says, “I do not know what I’m looking at, so I must not judge what I see.”

These are two examples from the last 24 hours in my life which brought that message home for me. I hope to remember them, the next time I am quick to judge.

That’s so 1986

So we haven’t really talked about my 25th high school reunion, have we?

Well. It was interesting. It felt like walking into a time warp. All of these people, most of whom I had not even thought about for many, many years, are alive and well…going about their lives. We all wake up and put one foot in front of the other, every day.

Some looked fantastic. Some looked like they’d fallen on hard times. Some seemed more wonderfully themselves, really in a great place. Some were obnoxious, in that mean drunk kind of way.

Every spouse of a classmate I talked with was awesome. Our class sure married well!

I wasn’t sure where the reunion was going to be held. I didn’t recognize the name of the restaurant, and didn’t bother looking into it. A week before, I bought a summer dress, on clearance. Not super dressy. It was white eyelet. Simple. We got to the restaurant early to meet our friends Michelle and Cris and catch up a little before the party officially got started. Inside the bar, I got the nice wine goblet you see in the photo above. It turned out, the party was outside, and very casual. At the right time, we ventured outdoors, where wine was served in plastic cups, and my glass was coveted by many. Seriously. People kept mentioning it. I felt just a smidge over dressed, but not horribly so. Of course my goblet made me extra fancy.

There was one guy who looked exactly the same, and for some reason I could not figure out who he was. Once someone told me it was like, oh, of course! There was a lot of standing around, whispering, figuring out “Who is that?” Then we’d figure it out, and go over and say hello.

Food was buffet style. Todd and I got plates and as we sat down to eat, I saw out of the corner of my eye at the next table, a woman I’d always thought of fondly point in our direction and say, Is that Michelle H?” As those at her table nodded, she said, thinking I couldn’t hear her…What’s with the dress?” 

And you know what? I had been feeling a little insecure about the dress. I mean, I loved the dress, but was the dress too much? Only one other person was wearing a dress (and she was rocking it btw).

Perhaps my fancy wine glass filled her with fury and she just had to take me out verbally? It’s difficult to say.

Anyway…her snide remark freed me of all insecurities. What was the worst thing that could happen? Someone like that, would say something like that.

So what?

Should I apologize for trying to look nice for my 25th high school reunion? I don’t think so. Got my hair highlighted too. And after two years, I’m done with Invisalign. By our 3oth, I plan on looking even better. Maybe some yoga and pilates in my future? You never know. It could happen.

Cue the inspirational music and play the Marianne Williamson quote which is always falsely attributed to Nelson Mandela:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you….” Yada yada.

Who am I to wear a cute dress?

Who am I to have a fancy goblet? LOL.

I love that quote. And I really, really feel in my heart it is true, and if we all knew who we really were, we’d  never ever say anything hurtful about anyone else, it just wouldn’t be possible. One day we’re all gonna get there.

Love.

Breathing Room

After a long, anxiety filled week (due to my book’s release on Amazon) it was nice to spend the evening watching the sunset over Lake Erie at my friend Kathy’s.

Gearing up to go over, gathering the kids I honestly felt just too darn tired to do it. But after about ten minutes by the water, the fatigue melted away. The sound of the waves. The air. And of course the good company, soon had me feeling renewed.

Kathy’s friend’s dog had fun retrieving sticks.

The kids had fun too.

I came home with more energy than I left with.

Nature never fails.

Thanks Kathy! Have a beautiful weekend, everyone!

Love.

Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar, in paperback

Today is the day.

My memoir Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar is out in paperback on Amazon.

Like it’s been for many of the momentous occasions in my life, it feels a bit hollow. Sure, I should be proud. I wrote a book! What many are calling a beautiful book. A book that is changing attitudes about children from troubled families. But in order for my book to be out there, doing its thing, helping anyone, I had to put my parents on the chopping block. And no matter how badly they screwed up. No matter how many times they let me down. No matter how compelled I felt by some inexplicable force to write it and release it, no matter how much they’ve hurt me, it feels unnatural to willfully hurt them. There is a sadness there. 

I wish there were a happy ending for my father. I wish he were healed. Unfortunately we who’ve done the co-dependent dance long enough learn you can’t “fix” anyone else. Wishing doesn’t make it happen. The best we can strive for is a healthy life for ourselves. The best we can do is stop the cycle. The best we can do is breathe, hopefully with compassion. And love ourselves even though our compassion sometimes waxes and wanes when situations continually arise.

For every child who ever had to break free in order to save themselves, I wrote this for you. I hope you love little *Janie, as much as I’ve come to love her, and in doing so, I hope you love yourself.

Thank you so much to my blog readers for your support.

I appreciate it more than you’ll ever know.

Love,

Michelle

Amazon link for the paperback.

Smashwords link for the ebook version.

*All of the names have been changed in this book.

Again, truly,

Love.

Road Trip Summer

The header above is a note Seth left for his dad before we went on our road trip to Wisconsin. Usually, if I’m leaving on a trip, I leave notes where I think Todd will find them, but this time I suggested the kids do it while I finished packing the van. They LOVED it (and it kept them out of my hair in those frantic last minute trying to get out the door moments). Win-win.

Just got in last night from a weekend in upstate NY for my high school 25th reunion. It was a very surreal experience, but overall a positive one. Will write more about it as I am inspired to, probably after I am caught up with laundry. I think I will have new business cards made with the title “Laundress” as profession. It would be accurate.

Kids were awesome travelers. And the dogs…this was Yippee’s first road trip, they were great. He didn’t chew anything he wasn’t supposed to and did not pee on my MIL’s carpet, so we are pleased.

Today, we rest.

And we love it.

And we appreciate this good life. These good kids. These good dogs. The good husband who was off to work at 6AM. The good coffee in my cup. My good computer. My good washing machine. The flowers in my bed that bloomed while we were away. The overcast sky making it cool. The stuff in my garden coming up (I thought it was dead, but no). The cats who took care of themselves while we were away. The easy drive with no traffic. The easy access to good organic food here in Cleveland. The people we saw over the weekend. The thought that they are all out there, having their own human experience, separate from mine. There they are 25 years later. I feel such affection for them. For the human-ness of us all.

Anyway…gotta run. Lots to accomplish. That laundry ain’t gonna do itself. And no one is going to drink my coffee for me.

Have a beautiful day.

Love.

Executive Function


I have several phone calls to make. I have laundry to do. I am fixing Riley’s supplements. Where was I? Oh…I was going to call Lidi to see how she’s holding up since her dog died.

Watching me spin my wheels, trying to decide what to do first, Riley says, “Mom, I think you have a little autism.”

Curious about where she is going with this, I say casually, “You do? Why?”

“Well…because you had me, and I have autism, and you are having executive function issues.”

Here is where I did the blank mommy, “You don’t say?” kind of face. Give nothing away. Do not laugh. Do not smirk. Oh my God she’s so cute. Do not laugh.

We discussed executive function issues the other day, after she spilled a whole glass of water on the table, where my laptop sat, but proceeded to sit down and eat her snack, rather than clean it up, because she was hungry. Made sense to her. Todd, who has worked in hospitals for the last 20 years commented that day, “It’s like she has no triage ability.” After it happened, I explained to her how she is not a bad person for doing this, but it is something we need to work on, because despite all her awesomeness, she does have challenges in executive function. We focus on her gifts, yes, but we also need to keep bringing up the rear, you know?

She adds, “Plus, we kind of look alike.”

Smiling at her I say, “Riley, if I am like you at all then I’m glad because you are awesome.”

She flashes her sweet smile.

Truly…how did I get such an incredible kid? I adore her. I want ten more just like her. Okay…I admit, that last sentence was a bit overboard, even for me.

But every day, I just enjoy her more. 

Now, where was I?

At least there was Fonzie

We went to the county fair today. Riley went on three rides. Seth went on two. I went on two. Todd went on one. All of us wound up ill from motion sickness. Apparently, we have delicate compositions.

I win loser mother of the year award, for encouraging Seth to get on a ride with his sister. She really wanted to go on it, and they were closing the gate, and I hustled them along, even though he had a tiny bit of hesitation. The ride proceeded to scare the crap out of him. Each time it circled around, I saw his face, utterly terrified. His little body clinging for dear life to the bar snapped shut in front of him. His eyes pleading with me in that two second whoosh each time it came around to PLEASE, please, make it stop. Riley was pretty much oblivious, smile on her face. She didn’t feel ill ’til the next ride. But Seth. My baby. He looked like he was going to puke, pee his pants, and cry all at the same time, and there was nothing I could do.

Will someone please explain how rides are fun?

This is me just seconds before Seth’s nightmare, as he’s being strapped in for the ride. Check me out all lighthearted, you see….it’s funny cause I’m wearing his fedora. Heh-heh.

It was so not funny!

Anyhoo…

We saw lots of animals at the fair.

How YOU doin?

Lots of cute little 4H kids with their award winning rabbits and chickens. Bizarro girls in tiaras thinking they were the bees knees for winning Little Miss something or other pageants.

There was also a barn full of award winning collections I could not figure out. Old dishes. Sculptures made of kitty litter bags. A Pez dispenser display. But then we happened upon this collection and it no longer needed to make sense, did it?

‘Cause it was The Fonz.

And not just Fonzie. Laverne & Shirley, Potsy & Richie, Lenny & Squiggy(why?) and Shaun Cassidy. Tell me you aren’t thinking “Da-do-run-run” right now.

Oh…I almost forgot. We also saw the cutest little potato.

On the way home I got pulled over for speeding. I tried to explain to the officer I had a carload of people who were ill from the rides at the fair, at which point Riley leaned forward and said, “I’m fine Mom. I’m feeling okay now.”

Thanks dear-heart. Thanks for that.

Somehow he took pity on me anyway and didn’t give me a ticket. My own green tinge must have been quite impressive.

This little outing was to be our training ground for bigger and better amusement parks. It’s pretty obvious that won’t be happening any time soon.

The Halloween Catalog

Every year a Halloween Costume catalog arrives in the mail. Riley desperately wants to flip through it. She wants to see the girlie girl costumes. She wants to see the animal costumes. She LOVES Halloween. The catalog calls to her. But there are always the gruesome costumes. And she could never do it. She’d hold the catalog in her hands, trembling, until I went through and ripped out the offending pages. Then, all would be well with the world. She’d take the catalog and pour over it for days, and weeks.

Well…the catalog came the other day. She walked over to me as I was doing the dishes and said, “Mom. Will you go through this for me and pull out the scary pages?”

Drying off my hands, I took the catalog, then reconsidering, handed it back to her, “No.”

She was shocked. Mean, mean, meanest mommy.

“Riley, I think you are old enough, and strong enough to deal with this.” I fished around on the counter and came up with a black Sharpie. “Take this, and any costume that is gross or scary or ugly, I want you to black it out. Take your power back. You don’t need to be afraid of a silly Halloween catalog anymore.”

She looked at me wide eyed, then ever so slowly the corners of her mouth turned up in a smile. She was in!

She attacked the catalog with a vengeance while Seth and I cheered her on. Her brother has a deep fear of one costume in particular (which I am not allowed to mention), and she took special pleasure in blacking that one out. She’s never been able to play the role of protective big sister much due to her own intense fears, but the times they are a changing. 

She actually said, “A little blood won’t hurt us” as she scribbled.

And when she was done she said, “I can’t believe I did it!”

Believe it, baby. Believe it.

There is nothing you can’t do.

 

A Breath of Fresh Air in Wisconsin

The kids and I left HT home and took a road trip to Wisconsin over the last few days. Just got back last night. Vast, open spaces. Ahhhh.

I’ve got so much swirling around in my brain to write, I can’t decide what comes first? It’s been a crazy busy couple of weeks. This is my friend Betsy, who graciously opened up her home to us and made us feel so welcome and well fed and loved. Betsy runs a website called Autism Law of Attraction, which I’ve written a little bit for.

This is Beth, holding Gretel. Beth is a medical intuitive who works in Betsy’s husband’s office. He is a doctor specializing in treating children with autism. Elementals Living. Their link is to the right on my sidebar for future reference. Betsy also works in John’s office, wearing many hats there.

This is Betsy’s son Joey. Joey is 18 and has autism.

He is a happy guy and he is very well loved. One of the cutest things I witnessed while at Betsy’s was Joey going up to Dr. John, presenting his arm to him and saying, “Kissy kissy,” and John…who is very quiet and a bit reserved and who has a dry sense of humor and who can appear a bit intimidating, taking Joey’s arm and going down the length of it, kissing it, repeating “Kissy, kissy.” Adorable.

We had such a good time. The kids are awesome little travelers. They spent a lot of time in Betsy & John’s pool. The highlight for them, when a frog jumped in and spent the afternoon swimming with them. They named him Mr. Ribbit and here he is on Riley’s foot.

They also did a bit of bouncing.

And swinging. 

They even had an Angel for Riley to love, since we left Jingle home.

On the long drive home (8-9 hours)they watched ET for the first time. I loved the movie as a kid and it brought me such good feelings to listen to it as they watched. They also did lots of singing, and lots of playing with new Webkinz I bought them at Cracker Barrell.

The only meltdown during our road trip was mine, and it had to do with:

getting lost + Chicago traffic + drinking too much coffee and needing to pee.

A deadly combo. Luckily, my children knew what to do, and immediately began visualizing. In short time, they manifested a Jewel Osco, with a clean bathroom, and all was well with their mother, and the world.

We had a great time.

It’s so good to visit friends. To be able to picture their surroundings when you talk with them. To get a feel for where they are. I’m filled with so much appreciation today for being in a place where we could do this, and for the wonderful hospitality offered by Betsy and John.

New Windows

We had more fun with the window guy.

July was so FREAKING hot. Our windows were paper thin. The sun baked the back of the house every morning. The front of the house every afternoon.

She’s a brick…..house. Therefore, it was an oven. Every day of the heat wave, I died a little. We planned on replacing the windows eventually, mostly to save heating costs in the winter. Who knew summer would cause us to bite the bullet?

Anyway….we had new windows installed last week. After all my complaining about the house, one of our window installers came in, and proclaimed of our modest abode, “This isn’t a house, it’s a castle!” He was from the Czech Republic. His English was very broken. To him our house is a castle. I’ve lived in some un-castle like places, but even so…his comment had me feeling pretty crappy for all my moaning. He had an amazing work ethic and a tummy ache. I gave him Bentonite, and he just chugged it down no questions asked, without even looking at the label. It helped. It always does.(It is good for stomach upset, acid stomach, coats the intestines. Good stuff).

Anyway….this guy had a terrific sense of humor. We have a painting on the wall in our house, done by an elephant at a sanctuary in Thailand. He thought it was the most ridiculous thing he ever heard. (Of course he was complimenting it before he knew the species of the artist). To him it was, why rescue an elephant when people are starving? He said, “Why not just eat ephalant?” And yes, he said ephalant. I acted totally offended. Then, a few minutes later,…I pulled out one of my paintings from high school, and here’s what I said to him, “This one was painted by a frog!”

The look on his face was priceless. I cracked up, then he realized I was jerking his chain, and he cracked up. They left their tarps on the living room overnight and Jingle had diarrhea on one of them. He said, “The dog did a painting.” Poor Jingle. She had a bug, but is feeling much better now. I gave her bentonite.

 

Dude was totally striking a pose for these pictures. They are not candid at all. Which makes them even funnier. I don’t even know his name, and he’s long gone, but I wish all contractors were so much fun.

Today….we veg

On Wednesday and Thursday we got new windows. I spent the next two days cleaning up a layer of sawdust and dirt off of every surface of the house. R & S completed six weeks of day camp on Friday. HT’s brother and his family arrived that afternoon for a weekend visit. My sister and her son arrived Saturday. And we had a house concert on Sunday. And I was taking care of my neighbor’s dog all weekend. Oh…and there’s that book I released last week. The busyness has helped me not be entirely freaked out that people are actually reading it. Lots of wonderful response from readers so far. More on that another day soon. Today I’m doing nothing more than feed my children, and of course, laundry.

Love.