Saying Yes

Hello Asperger’s,

Thank you for allowing me to walk with a girl who is so sweet, she absolutely cannot see bad in anyone. Even people who have been mean to her. Thank you for allowing me to bear witness to this beautiful heart of hers. A girl who after being excluded wonders what she can do to help the person who did it. Because obviously they are in so much pain.

Dear PANDAS,

Thank you for allowing me precious time with my boy, to know him more, and to ease my own heart, making up for time that wasn’t spent “on him” when he was tiny. Thank you for providing me more opportunities to be kind when he is scared. Patient when he takes a long time to get his words out, accepting and supportive when he tics.

Thank both of you, Asperger’s, PANDAS, for all the learning. All the heart opening. All the extra love you have ignited in me and so many others.

I appreciate you.

Love,

MO’N

Open


So much has been going on. So much has not been going on. I’m in limbo. Last week Riley went to shadow for a day at a local special needs school. She was so excited. She had no qualms about me leaving her there. She marched confidently into her day. Just a couple of hours in, I got a call. They had given her math work to do, along with the rest of the class. She panicked because it was presented in a way she wasn’t used to. She raised her hand, but the teacher was busy with another student. She wound up crying and running from the room. She managed to finish her day. She felt happy about it. When I picked her up, the principal said she’d be meeting with the teachers about Riley and getting back to me. It’s been over a week. No word. I called Monday, left a message. She has not returned my call.

Seth was supposed to visit a private school this week. He’s been doing quite well with his PANDAS, and hadn’t been sick in months. His tics were becoming less severe. Hardly noticeable if you didn’t know him. On Saturday they flared up again. On Sunday night, he complained of a sore throat. By Monday it was severe. We had to postpone his visit.

It’s a great school, but I’m left wondering if this is the right thing to even consider? Will being in school just keep exposing him to more strep? Will he constantly be sick? Will it be a never ending battle? Is it worth it? Neither kid is entirely thrilled at the possibility of going to school. They are perfectly content being home. It’s me having a hard time with it. But why? Is it really that bad?

I’ve figured some things out over the past few days. I have a friend whom I love dearly, and I’m in daily e-mail contact with her. She runs a thriving business. She can’t imagine doing what I am doing, homeschooling. It is her worst nightmare. So, whenever I have a bad time…I find a great ear in her. I can commiserate and she can be all, “Girl, you have to get out of that house! You have to get their butts in school!” It feels like she actually kind of pities me being at home.

And she means well. And I’m not blaming her. I’ve certainly been asking for it. But it’s not what I need.

When she has bad days or weeks at the office, I never say, “Girl! That job sucks. You should quit immediately. I don’t know how you stand it! Close down the business!”

I tell her, “You are smart. You can do it. You are good at it. You know what you are doing.” Because she is smart. She is good at it. She does know what she’s doing.

I need someone to tell me that. I need to ask for that.

My kids just might be homeschooled for the duration. If that is the case, rather than running to someone to validate why I hate it, (and btw, I only hate some parts of it, just as she only hates some parts of her job) I need a different kind of support.

Homeschooling is such a radical departure from mainstream society. There is little validation for it. Even in the homeschooling community, families are going about it in so many different ways. I never quite feel like I’m doing it right. I always feel lacking. I always feel worried about the future. Their futures.

Settling into bed the other night, I said to Todd, “If I knew we were all going to die in an accident in fifteen years, I wouldn’t change anything about what we’re doing right now.”

He replied, “Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that.”

And we laughed! 

I hate feeling unsettled. I hate not knowing what is going to happen. It’s so unnerving.

I feel like it’s time to shut out the opinions of everyone else in the world, and listen to my own heart. Trust my own instincts about what’s best for them, and what’s best for me.

Today in the shower I put a hot washcloth over my eyes and pressed down until little sparkles appeared behind my lids. I felt a calm come over me and a sense of gratitude.

Thank You.

Thank You for this.

Thank You for the not knowing.

Thank You for this moment which will lead to the next beautiful part of our lives. It’s okay not to know. It leaves the door wide open to possibilities.

Previewing this post I click to enlarge the photo I chose and notice Seth, our angel baby, ahead of us on the path, both feet off the ground.

How to Afford Camp

Upon learning my kids are going to day camp for four weeks this summer, a neighborhood mother who is an acquaintance said, “Must be nice. We can’t afford camp.” 

Now, I’m just going to let the fact that her kids go to public school fly. That she gets to send them off everyday without a thought. Instead I’ll be offering a public service announcement on how to afford camp.

1) Drive old cars. We bought one used, the other new. Both are over a decade old. We have not had a car payment in years.

2) Live close to where you work. Todd’s commute is short. Very little gas required.

2) Never go out. We spend very little on restaurants, and virtually nothing on fast food, due to special needs and special diets. Our booze bill consists of about $10.00-15.00 a month, my contribution to “porch night” with the girls. I drink about 1.5 glasses of wine a week with them. Two if I’m feeling wild. Hot Toddy drinks nothing. Ever. Neither of us smokes.

3) Trade babysitting services with a friend rather than paying for them on those rare occasions when you do get to go out with your spouse.

4) Have kids who are naturally unathletic.  We pay nothing for soccer, tennis, lacrosse, you get the idea. 

5) Don’t do your hair. I have high lights right now (which I got before my 25th high school reunion last summer and have had touched up once since then). Prior to that I got my hair cut maybe twice a year and did my own color at home.

6) Use the library.

7) Don’t go on big family vacations. We’ve taken two family vacations in the last ten years. One was paid for by my friend who died and left us the money for it. I would rather send my kids to day camp for four weeks than “vacation” because vacations with kids are rarely “vacations” for moms, and I need a break. Did I mention we homeschool?

8)Rarely buy clothes or new make-up.

9) Don’t ever buy soft drinks. Home or out.

10) Get your produce from a co-op. We spend $25.00 a week and get a huge basket full of organic produce which would cost three times as much if we bought it in a store.

11) Bring rather than buy. Todd packs a lunch every single day. He doesn’t spend a dime on cafeteria food or take out for lunch at work. Ever.

I know times are tough for many people. I understand that for some, camp is out of reach no matter how frugal a family is. For others, it is a matter of priorities. If Dad can buy a new motorcycle, there is money for camp. If Mom spends money each week getting her nails done at a salon, there is money for camp. For the most part, except in dire circumstances, we find money for what is important to us. I don’t begrudge anyone their motorcycle, their hair, their nails. Their junk food. Their new car every couple of years. I really don’t.

But spare me the “must be nice” about camp.

Ever have one of those really good days?

Today is a great day. Why is that? I don’t know really. It started with a major tickle fight between HT and I last night before bed. And that’s not code. We were really tickling. And only tickling. Wrestling. All over the living room. Over the couches and ottoman. On the floor. Laughing the whole time. It’s really mostly me trying to get at him, and him blocking and occasionally landing me on my butt, but occasionally I get him good. It’s like sparring in martial arts, which by the way is totally fun with a well matched partner.

Then, somehow I slept ’til 8:30 this morning. I will never take sleep for granted. Then, a book I pre ordered, just miraculously landed in my Kindle without me doing a blessed thing to put it there(other than ordering it months ago). And the book is one that is a spirits raising, good feeling, ah….that’s the reason for the whole blessed Universe, thanks for clearing that up kind of thing. It’s the third in a series and I knew it would be good, and it is. It’s old, but I’d never read the third and I guess it is new on Kindle, thus the wait. Anyway, you’d be hard pressed to read it and not feel good. Did you know we’re all angels in human suits? You did? Well…did you know that when we breathe, there is this infinitesimal space between breaths (  breathe   ) in which we go back to Source, dipping into that Creative space a zillion times a day, so fast we don’t even know it is happening. We’re not consciously aware of it but we’re not really here half the time because we’re pulsing in and out back to Source, back to Source, back to Source. I love it when that happens. If that doesn’t make you want to take a deep breath, I don’t know what will? According to my Kindle, I’m only 10% into the book and look how much I’ve learned already!

Then, Carrie and I had an email discussion of Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild, which I just finished two days ago and LOVED. So much to chew on with this book. SO MUCH!

And I’ve been studying for my nursing boards today. I’d been procrastinating, because I feel studying for my nursing boards should be totally awful. But here’s the thing… I actually kind of like it. I am firing off neurons in another part of the ole noggin’ which have not been fired in a while, and it feels good. I like to study. Sue me.

HT just wrote to say he’d be late, claiming he has a meeting, and I took the opportunity to lambaste him, for the alleged affair he surely is having, and asked for names, and threatened to kill her, and signed off

-Vivian

It’s 5:30. I don’t have a plan for dinner but that’s okay because we just ate copious amounts of cheese popcorn. I buy boxed mac & cheese and then steal the cheese packet for the popcorn, man. To hell with the macaroni. It’s what I do.

Five or six more hours before bed. I can’t even imagine the fun that’s still in store.

And no, I’ve not been drinking.

Library Love

The library is one of my favorite places and always has been, as a child, and as an adult. No matter where I’ve lived. It’s been a place of respite. It was where I hung out in college, reading while waiting for my boyfriend to meet me behind the stacks. It’s where I would go to study and then get distracted by all the other things to read which I found far more interesting than my assignments.

I’ve been reading to my babies since before they were born and both kids have spent many, many hours at the library. We’ve rarely gone a week without a visit. I’ve never forced them to read. No timer setting to make sure they get it in. I learned early with Riley that being coy was the way. While at the library, they’d play with puppets and I would fill up my big bag with books I thought might be of interest to them. Then, when we’d get home, I’d set that huge pile of books on the living room floor and walk away, acting like I couldn’t care less if they read them or if they didn’t.  It worked like a charm.

Our library system here in Cleveland is so good! You can get your hands on anything you want. If they don’t have it, they get it. We live just a friendly little mile from our library, and we love, love, love it.

Riley recently, in an effort to break my heart,(not really, she’s not manipulative) informed me she’s not really a reader. “I’m not a chapter book girl,” is what she said.

I’m not buying it.

She’s into graphic novels these days. That counts. She also can’t get enough of the Smart Girl’s Guide to……. (pick a subject) kind of books.

She’s a reader damn it.

Anyway…it’s National Library Week. Shout out to *M*elissa and all the other awesome, helpful, friendly, smart librarians who make our lives easier and keep our libraries functioning.

You are a blessing to your communities.

Thanks to The Daily Good  for alerting me to the fact that it was National Library Week. You might want to sign up for their newsletter. It’s, well, “good.”

Kristi

About 8PM last night I was inspired to go to the store to buy my kids a toy for their Easter Baskets. It was either Wal-Mart or Target, and I needed oil for the lawn mower as well, so I went to Wal-Mart. I despise Wal-mart for so many reasons, and rarely set foot in the place, but it was one of two choices that were open and well…I went.

It was crowded. I found what I needed and got in line. A long line. A line in which I was fortunate enough to be in because you see, Kristi was in a cart in front of me. Kristi was four years old. Brown skin. Huge eyes. Braids. Round cheeks. Pink frayed tutu over her sweat pants. She batted her long lashes at me for five seconds and then decided I was a friend and after that she never stopped talking. I was in line for at least 20 minutes.

Kristi, showed me her new glow ring. She introduced her brother, who was five. She grabbed a battery operated hand sized fan, (which also had candy in it) off the impulse buy check out rack and fanned herself, then fanned me, and asked, “How do you like it?”

She looked at the gender specific toys in my hand. “You got a girl and a boy?” she asked. I told her I did.

“Just like us,” she said, nodding at her brother.

“The Easter bunny be coming to my house tonight,” she said, wiggling with joy in her seat, eyebrows lifted in anticipation.

Her brother pulled some spicy potato chips off a rack and asked if she wanted some. She said, and I quote, “I don’t want no spicy chips. If I did want spicy chips, I’d say it. But I’m not saying it, because I don’t want spicy chips. If I did want spicy chips, I’d be having some spicy chips. I don’t like spice.”

Her lips were covered in glitter, and I told her I liked her glittery lipstick.

She looked at me incredulously, “Girl, please. I am not old enough to wear lipstick. It is lip balm. And I got it for Christmas from Santa.”

Then earnestly, she lowered her eyes and said, “I just wish Santa had given you some. I really do.”

She fanned herself, held the fan out to her brother, and when he tried to reach it she pulled it back. She looked at me slyly and grinned. Her harried mother kept pushing the cart forward, herding the brother back into line.

During lulls in the conversation she sang, “God is goooood. God is goooood.” Sounds like God is Guuuuhd.

At the check out, Kristi took advantage of the opportunity where her mother was distracted and began to bargain about how many TV shows they could watch before bed when they got home. Mom said one. Kristi said two.

I’m betting they got two.

I’m betting Kristi is having a happy Easter. She seems to take the happy with her.

May she always.

My Left Wrist

A little over a week ago I hurt my wrist. I’d been to an intense hot yoga class. I was keeping up, but barely. I had to stop a few times and put my hands on my hips, holding only the leg positions while I got my breath, letting the arms go. It was a fast moving class. Over and over we did sun salutations, hitting the deck, stretching upward, being supported by our wrists. Sweat just poured off my body. It felt good to be wrung out like that.

On the drive home I felt it. My wrist started to throb. By night time it was evident it was not just “exercise” sore, but injured. Pain woke me up several times during the night, making my heart heavy. I’m loving yoga! I do not want to be injured! I don’t want to stop!

The wrists take a lot during yoga. Studying mine, I see that they are small. Very small body parts to be holding up the rest of my weight. I wrapped it in an ace bandage for a couple of days (it felt really good to stabilize it like that) and stayed off it for a week.

No yoga.

So I worked with a yoga teacher this week, to make sure my alignment is just right. She helped a lot. Little tweaks in alignment make all the difference.

She mentioned that in the hot classes, we are fooled into thinking we are warmed up when in fact we aren’t. We might be hot, but our muscles have not gradually warmed, and so the deep parts of them aren’t truly stretched even though we are sweating. It can cause us to push it further than we would have if the room wasn’t heated. Further than we should. This mindset can cause injury.

In addition to working on proper alignment, she gave me some modifications of poses to help protect me, and some exercises targeted toward areas that are problematic for my particular body.

It’s sobering, getting an injury. My nature is to want to dive right in. I have a history of getting injured while exercising. I love to run, but in my enthusiasm I’ve tended to go too far too soon. I always get hurt and have pretty much given up on running.

I want the hard, hot classes, but I have not built up the strength or proper technique to maintain good alignment in them. I thought yoga would be safer, but I’m running into myself again.

So I am pulling back. Working on building from the ground up.

Building.

My wrist is much better already. It wasn’t a serious injury. Just enough. Just my loyal body, telling me what I needed to hear. And it applies to all areas of life, not just yoga. Slow down. Take your time. Get your footing.

And that’s the thing about getting older and wiser.

This time, I’m listening.

Taboo Topics

*(image from Women on Writing).

I’ve had the honor of being featured at Women on Writing today.

I have not been writing about Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar much, because I’d been grappling with a lot of emotions around it since my first reading. I guess I still had some guilt about publishing it, seeing my father as having an illness. I had some angst about forgiveness. Was I a bad person for writing it? Was I trying to punish him? Every time I think I’ve put those questions to rest they circle around again.

Enter Bill Macy as Frank Gallagher in Showtime’s Shameless series.

Watching the series has been helpful for me. Frank is over the top, to be sure. He’s very different from my father in some ways (my dad held a job and did very hard physical labor, Frank is a “disability” junkie, looking for any way to scam the system) but there is enough of my father in him.  The part of every active addict that cares more about the substance, than about anyone he loves. The part where people are only useful for you if they feed your addiction or your ego. If not, to hell with them. Even your own children.

Thinking about my previous post on Project Forgive, I had a revelation. The man whose family was killed by a drunk driver? The one who forgave the guy who did it? He was never asked to act like it didn’t happen. He was never asked to sweep the violation under the rug. No one questions his true “forgiveness.”

I can hold deep compassion and forgiveness for my father AND I can talk about my own experience and write about it. One does not cancel out the other.

Some statistics report that one in every 12 adults in the U.S. is an alcoholic. Others show that one in three girls is sexually abused and one in 5-7 boys is sexually abused.

And you know why it continues?

Because it’s taboo. Because people are too ashamed to talk about it. Because society makes people like me feel guilty for even mentioning it.

But you know what? I am a good person. I am a loving person. I am a compassionate person. I am a forgiving person.

I am also the Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar.

And there are millions of me.