08Oct

Worrying Crowds my Brain and Pain makes Me Dumb

I have made a couple of poor decisions in the last couple of weeks, and, I cannot apologize.  Those decisions have come from a brain crippled with worry.  At my age, one gets very good at disciplining the emotive side of the brain.  My brain leans towards the analytical thinking side on most days anyway.  But, when I worry for my children, I turn into a full blown idiot.

There is something primal about love for children.  Specifically, it is a love that has no cause, it is simply consuming; part of the universal law of survival.  To concern ourselves with our offspring is to ensure that life goes on.  Perhaps this is why parental love is so enduring and encompassing.  It must be, or humans would perish from the earth.  (I digress.)

My daughter, my youngest, coincidentally, also the smallest.  She is the fiercest mother I know.  She has had to be, the challenges are astronomical.  I have heard that her situation is more and more common in today’s world.  My daughter is held hostage 800 miles from her home and family because of the fact that she had a child with a resident of a state that she visited.  This hostage situation has turned into the worst nightmare for her and (of course) by extension to her family.

The most common activities that I can take for granted with my other grandchildren are an impossibility.  My daughter has two sons, both handsome, smart and kind.  I cannot see them unless I buy a plane ticket and they are an impossible driving distance away.  (But enough about me.)

Imagine my daughter’s life, no familial support, an ugly and mean man as the father of one of her sons.  Every time she works she needs a paid babysitter, must do all of the driving, and all details of life sit squarely on her shoulders.  Getting the boys to school Monday morning can be a huge ordeal because her work schedule may keep her into the wee hours of the day.  Most difficult, most painful, is the fact that she is alone – and for the time being – nothing can change that.  So when a trauma occurs; can you imagine the length of the long distance calls?  When that trauma cannot be remedied; can you imagine the tears cried into a pillow, no strong shoulder to cry on here?  When the worry for her children cannot be abated, the suffering begins to show in her body, her eyes, her life.  Because this suffering has gone on so long, it becomes a pervasive part of this life.

I know for sure that this suffering will end.  It has been going for so long, I know that it must stop.  In the meantime what damage has been done?  What hurts have been internalized?

I also know for sure that the best path for me is not to be her mother and tell her what and how to do.  This fierce woman is in survival mode.  My best path is to be the quiet and kind friend.  Please, please God, deliver us from this evil and give me back my daughter and grandsons.

09Apr

Not the Best Grandmother

The one who was born on 10/07

The ones who were born on 10/07

I always give all of myself to whatever it is that I am doing.  It is who I am.  I make my choices very carefully, after all I cannot give myself wholly to what I do not care for?

There is this misunderstanding in my family, well actually, a couple of misunderstandings.  One is that my kids believe that my agenda for their kids should be the same as it was for themselves.  Not even close.  My agenda for my kids was an intense laser focus that is not duplicated with grandchildren.  With my grandchildren, I am completely in love and the best way to describe this love is relaxed.  Gone is the need to impose perfection.  Gone is the need to demand performance.  Gone is my own ego.  By this time in my life: I am not feeling responsible for anyone.  I realize that my child’s life is not my fault, therefore my need for the child to make me proud is gone.

My grandchildren are people who like to play (much more fun than their parents).  My grandchildren are beautiful to me.  I don’t care who agrees.

My definition of human success has changed dramatically.  I once thought that my kids all had to have formal education and high paying jobs, I no longer define success in that way.

Success:  the ability to form meaningful relationships, the ability to maintain those relationships without using money as a weapon of control.  A deep and abiding concern for another human being, the ability to be introspective, the ability to care, nurture and love one’s self; these are definitions of success.

So it is, that in this sense, I cannot be the grandmother that my kids want me to be.  I am however, the grandmother that I want to be.

 

21Jan

Our Brain Can Change the Reality of History… And What is the Point of Guilt?

My own mother evoked gratefulness and love.  I am not sure why I was particularly present with her, but I was.  I invited her to be with me as much as possible.  Before my mother passed away 21 years ago, we spent an entire day together, one on one and I enjoyed every minute.  She was the kind of woman you could feel comfortable with and it was easy to respect her.  When she died, I didn’t feel regretful because I told her over and over again “I love you, Mom.”  ”You are the greatest mom.”

For Ella Mae, my mother-in-law, it was quite a different matter.  When she passed in 2005, I had not prepared in the same way I did my mother.  I loved her and told her so, but she never knew how important she was to me and our family.  Because she was a formal woman, there just was not the casual love that was available in my family of origin.

I have valued Ella Mae more in retrospect, than I ever did while she was alive.  My own mother knew how much I valued her, I wrote cards and letters and expressed my joy and love in many different ways.  Ella Mae, not as much.  I am very grateful for her contribution to our family and for this reason, I have for the last 12 years been valuing her “things”.

I know better than most that guilt is no replacement for current action and present love, and yet, here I am indulging in guilt because I did not treat her the way that I would want to treat her today.  I find myself thinking “I must hang onto to Ella Mae’s china so that I can pass it on to my daughters.”  Why would I want to imbue value onto the china if I didn’t feel some measure of guilt?  I didn’t value Ella Mae enough while living and so now I must value her china to show the kids how important that she was.  It’s just not necessary with my mother’s things because her value was so well established while she lived.

In this case, I think the point of guilt is so that I can convince myself that I loved her enough and that she knew it.  If I didn’t love her enough while she lived, I am trying to make up for it.  This is a burden for all of us.  It is a burden that I do not wish to bear, nor do I believe that there is any way to make up for my behavior once someone has passed away, nor will I make promises about future behavior.  I simply must say that Ella Mae gave us much, she taught manners and in this way made us comfortable in any environment.  Ella Mae taught me that birthdays are important, my family never celebrated birthdays, it was Ella Mae who brought that tradition to us.  She loved step grandchildren and biological grandchildren and tried very hard to be fair.  She was not fair; the attempt was there.  For this I am grateful.

Ella Mae was a very gracious woman who welcomed everyone into her home.  She saw holidays as a means to give me a rest and she would never let me lift a finger or ‘bring’ something.  She cooked like a chef and hostessed like a queen, and it was those talents that she passed to me.  She had a beautiful silk hanging in the dining room.  For some reason both of my sons had to touch it every single time they passed by on the way to the kitchen.  She may have grimaced and she may have said something, but she never got mad.  Her graciousness extended to everyone.

Maybe now that I understand why I am hanging onto the china, I can actually put it down.  No one wants that stuff anymore.  I do hope that I can pass on graciousness, that’s a gift worth giving.

26Dec

Daughter Please Come Home

I have to admit that my ardent desire has come to naught.  I can hardly believe that I have to let this go.

As you know, my daughter moved to Norfolk in 2009 with her 3 month old son, my grandson.  It was supposed to be temporary.  It was not supposed to last.  It was not supposed to be permanent.

My family lives in Florida, and they always come back.  Even my brother, who lived away for over a decade, came back.  The issue is that his children were raised somewhere else and so they stayed there.  My brother came back, but his adult children stayed behind.

And that’s the point, people stay where they are raised.  It feels like home and for most people it is.

So I am angry with my daughter, who met another man and had another child.  That man is an angry unhappy man who believes (because his father told him) that women are bad.  My daughter is trapped by a court system that enjoys a good fight.  Norfolk is a Military town and unfortunately considers a man so much more than a woman, when circumstances are considered.  Circumstances are rarely considered.  My daughter is a single woman who has spent that last four years spending every spare dime on attorney’s fees and begging her case in a court room that is not interested in hearing her.  My daughter is trapped surely and resolutely, she has surrendered to this court system that does not consider her, nor her children’s needs.

I am so angry.  Why did she surrender?  I know she fights, but she also says that she will make her life in Norfolk.  No!  Why?  Are you kidding me?

I will be deprived of my grandsons, probably for my entire life.  She will be deprived of loving support throughout my grandsons young life.  How can this be an acceptable reality?  I don’t see it, and I can’t see it.

When my sons went into the service, I could bear being separated from them because of the promise of their return.  I knew they would be back and that made separation bearable.  But now, my daughter is alone, without support, and she has no hope of coming home.  She is not a rebel like her mother.  She does not see a way to get home.  I, of course, would run away.  My daughter was not born in the days of bra burning and open rebellion against “the man”.  She grew up in the 90s with young and compliant people starring in every TV show.  And so, the decision is made by her, to be compliant.

I live without my daughter, the person I have spent the last 34 years being concerned with and about.  I crazy love her, like a thousand boyfriends, I crazy love her.  I want her back.  I cannot bear the idea of living the next 15 years without her and without my grandsons.  It’s an awful thought and a hard way to live.  Every single day I hurt.  Every single day I need and I cannot have what I need.  My grandsons do not get to hear me or understand me; they will miss all of the easy good days of summer in Florida.

I want them all back.  I am angry with a court system that allows this untenable situation to go on for 4 years.  This is a court system that does not consider the family at all.  This has been a roller coaster ride from the beginning.  Why is it possible for this to happen in this America?  This is the court system?  This is what is legal?  My daughter and grandsons are kept in a place 800 miles away from her family because of a psychopathic liar who happens to be the father of her youngest child and have a wealthy father?  Ugh.

Daughter, please come home.

05Dec

Grandsons (contd.)

I want you to know that your current worry will go away.  All things can be evaluated this way: will this matter in two years?  Ninety nine percent of the time the answer is no, and once you know that, relieve yourself of your worry.

I know that many things will worry and concern you over the years and in some ways they should.  It can be a moral compass because it tells you where and how to focus on what is right.  Guilt will do the same thing for you.

Be careful of guilt because guilt is a one way pass to telling yourself that you are “good”.  A good son, a good brother, a good father, a good boyfriend: are all conversations that you have with yourself.  Make sure that you don’t use guilt to make you feel like a good person, and then forgo the actual action it takes to be a good person.  To be a good person, you must actually do something, not just think it.  Guilt will make you feel that you have suffered and therefore have paid the price to “be good”.

I want to add something really important here.  There are times in life (often) when persistence is important.  You may not think you are good enough or smart enough to have something, yet you want that something.  Your inner thoughts should not dictate how hard you try to get what you want.  Sometimes when I am ready to give up, I push a little bit harder and there is the goal right around the corner and it is good.  Keep looking, keep trying, keep working at it, you can attain it.  This is also where clarity will serve you well ~ know what you want and work towards it.  Persistence will get you there when nothing else is working.

26Nov

A Letter to my Grandsons: (There will be more.)

Be aware of the primal part of you, being aware allows you to have some control over the primal animal that lives within.

Sex is necessary and good, hopefully you will meet others who believe the same thing.  Acknowledging the presence of something reduces the power of that thing.

Life needs to be out in the open.  Secrets are a tool of control and almost always inappropriate.  Witness the epiphany of the early part of the 21st century, understanding what people were really doing was an instrumental feature of justice.

Make decisions and change those decisions when necessary, clarity and flexibility are fantastic attributes to have.

Love your family and treat them as your faith tells you.  Not all members of your family will honor you.  There will be times when they will treat you badly.  Decide wisely how you will live with your family.

Giving is a gift unto itself.  Don’t expect anything in return for your gifts.

Acceptance of you is one of the most important things that you will ever do.  By accepting yourself, you stop all enemies from gaining leverage via your self esteem.  “Yes, I know I have that fault, dastardly isn’t it?”  Or “yes, I am aware that it is more popular to like the color white, however, I like the color brown.”

What is the collective unconscious?  What is natural knowing?  What is instinct?  These are all questions in which you will be part of the answer.  Be aware of the universe, your awareness will serve you well in life.  Religious dogma has not served humans for centuries.  However, kinship and fellowship are found in churches and synagogues; use them to keep yourself and your family well.

Do not be that old angry man.  Bitterness is anger that hardens into a stiffness that cannot be softened.  Do not be that.  You should know that in the end what matters is how you decide to live.  Bitterness is an angry decision that must be renewed every day.  Decide not to be that and not to have that in your life.

If you do not know what drives your anger and pain, find out.  If you don’t do that, then relinquish.  Hanging onto your anger and pain is the most awful decision that you can ever make.  Discover, relinquish and then banish that which hurts you and angers you.

Your chosen journey is as good and as necessary as anyone else’s.  Don’t allow any devaluation of you.

Protect and love others: just as you cannot allow yourself to be devalued, do not allow others to be devalued.  In your presence, all must be equally valued.

31Oct

Your Relationship with Your Child

I pride myself on trying the best that I actually can, in every situation all the time.  It is a way to live life.  My mother often said that she lived life without regrets and as you can imagine, that can change the way you live life.  For me, it meant that I wasted no time.  My life was always about bringing all of me to the table.  I may have been doubtful and even confused, but it wasn’t from lack of trying.  I tried everything to do the jobs and the chores that life had assigned to me.  None were as important as motherhood.  My life wasn’t easy; I was unskilled in making money and militant about my relationships with men, so it was confusing ~ to say the least.

There it is.  My daughter tells me that all of that trying was not enough.  She could have had a better life, if her parents had stayed together, if her parents had bracketed her teenage years.  Yes, I most definitely agree.  I also see that all of my reasoning and that all of my thinking are irrelevant.  If every bit of my effort were not what she wanted, nor what she needed, then that is all.  All of my effort was not enough.

What do you do when your best effort does not get you to where you want?  What do you do when all that you do is not enough?

The answer is that I do not know.

I guess I thought: that if you tried hard, that if you put your best effort in, that is enough.  After all, addicts, sociopaths, liars and thieves, and cruel people have children and do nothing to care for them.  Isn’t my effort better, at least I worked myself silly to accomplish something?  The answer is, of course, no.  You may try very hard and your child dislikes you, maybe because you are unskilled at making time or money.  You may try -not at all- and your child is in love with you, enjoying every breath that you take.  Is that the same as not being enough, or is that a whole different ball game?

I have to say that I think that for the most part, love is never misplaced.  You try very hard for your child, you love your child and it may not bear fruit, yet it is still worthwhile.  It is worth every effort that you have invested.  I do not know why, but I know that this is so.

Brothers

Brothers Jax and Cai

Halloween

Sophia at Halloween

19Oct

Johanna Jr on Motherhood

The chronicles of motherhood chapter 5,489
Lessons Learned

I was shaken to the core the other day sitting at Y-not waiting on a cappuccino and some gelato with the boys…

Jaxsun my oldest son grabbed a peppermint and a toothpick as we walked in the restaurant as he usually does when we go there on our dates for dessert. No big deal. Right? WRONG!

As we’re sitting there talking. I’m on the inside of the booth across from Jax with Cai next to me I look up and Jax is holding his throat gasps and says “I’m choking HELP ME mom” may the lord strike me dead I flew out of that booth with a fierceness sending my youngest son flying across the restaurant in panic to assist my first born!
I frantically looked for water I pushed on his chest a little I got up screamed for water as the crazy person I was I came back to Jax after I ran and got his drink! He drank it and threw up the lodged peppermint onto the table!!

The 45 seconds this potential nightmare was occurring a million thoughts raced through my brain! I felt the most immense feelings of helplessness as I watch in agony my son scared and suffering! Looking at me for salvation! I should snap my fingers and fix it! Make this potential nightmare Magically go away! The words ” HELP ME MOM” burn my soul! I realized the peppermint was lodged it scared him and it hurt him & he thought he was choking. He was not but:

What if he had actually inhaled it and I had to perform CPR. What If there wasn’t medical students sitting at the table next to me? What if we were alone at home and all he had was me??? I should know what to do! I should be all he needs in those moments!

I thought I knew the basics of CPR but in that very moment I realized I was not 100% confident on what to do! Before I realized it was lodged I was thinking about how to perform CPR… What if things were different he did inhale it and in that time of me thinking and not acting it was too late!

I’m not being morbid I’m being realistic! I can not control everything! I know that! I can’t control my sons actions or their decisions when they’re not with me… I can instill the morals they’ll need to make them! So they can protective themselves when I’m not there..

I can however control myself! I take pride in being a strong parental figure to look up to for my sons! One of the many reasons the gym is important to me! I stabilize my mental and emotional self all the while physically getting stronger in case of a zombie apocalypse!

Feeling helpless as a mother with the extension of your heart and soul walking around in human forms will never go away!
One of my sons getting hurt or possibly worse over something I should know and be able to control is unacceptable!!! I’m taking this soul shaking event as a blessing and a lesson learned! I am beside myself in great appreciation to have the opportunity to say “what if!” With that being said….
I’ll be taking a CPR class this Saturday!!

On another note:
Cai And Jax quickly forgot the scariest life event mommy has ever had the displeasure of experiencing as they sat next to me ate and enjoyed their gelatos laughing as I grasped them tightly holding back tears trying to drink my cappuccino while my hand shook the contents out of my mug attempting to makes it’s way to my face…. 😳

17Sep

Being Loved Changes Everything

Being loved changes everything.  Yet, it’s one of those things you know after you don’t know.   What I mean by that, is that if you are loved and then live with an absence of love, you realize how important being loved is.

Being loved means that everything that you do and say is different.  You walk taller, you talk easier, you give more freely.  This change in you, changes what people see in you.  When people see your smiles, your confidence, your comfort, they like you more and spend more time around you.  This can affect everything: getting a job, getting a client and getting a promotion.  This can affect whether people cooperate with you or do not.  Cooperation may seem small within an incident, but over time, it can change the way you live your life.

There is no way to earn love, you will be loved or not.  Love has a life of its own.  Parents fall instantly and ridiculously in love with their offspring.  You may meet someone who spontaneously inspires love in you.  You will love your parents – like it or not.  You will not always love good people.  Your love will not always be rewarded or reciprocated.  In many instances, love happens to us, we don’t know what happened and suddenly the love is there, engulfing and enfolding us.

Being loved gives us strength when we doubt, gives us confidence when we fear.  No matter what happens to us, if we know that we are loved, love gives us strength to endure, to survive, to thrive.  How many times did I tell myself while living alone in a far-away city “I must stay safe, my mother would be unhappy if I was hurt”?

You may not be able to earn love, but being loving is the best way to find yourself loved by another.  For some reason, loving others, draws love to you.  When you decide to love, it flips a switch in your perception of the other.  Suddenly, the spoiled behavior becomes understandable; the angry behavior is obviously hurt and not meanness.

This is why being loved is so wonderful, because you know in your soul that whatever you do, no matter how harsh and ugly you may be, the love remains steadfast and clear and true.

13Sep

Is Obesity the Latest Moral Failing?

We have treated addiction as a moral failing since drunks started drinking centuries ago.  “There must be something wrong with him, he wasn’t raised right…”

Those who could not or would not stop imbibing were thought to be degenerates, not deserving of social care and concern.  In recent years addiction medicine has been able to pull us away from this paradigm into a broader understanding of how people become addicts and lose control of their lives.  Science tells us that it is not a moral failing, but rather a complex combination of nature and nurture.  There is DNA involved in addiction, as well as brain chemistry which reacts to primal pleasure sensations, seeking rewards by repeating behavior.

Addiction is not an easy illness to understand and this challenge has made it into a medical “stepchild” no one really wants to claim ownership and the illness keeps worsening.  Addiction is now claiming lives in the thousands, daily, who overdose on opiates and heroin.  At least society now sees a glimmer of reality by calling out the profit hungry behavior of big pharma and physicians who over-prescribe.  We begin to see that addiction does not thrive in a vacuum, it thrives by virtue of hundreds of factors: social, medical, economic, individual and by the infinite possibilities in the strands of our DNA.  Blaming an addict for using substances, doesn’t produce any good results and yet our society has done it over and over again.

Obesity is our latest moral failing in America, and like addiction it does not earn the appropriate attention for resolution.  I read a billboard yesterday that was advertising liposuction, the billboard said “Get Your Sexy Back!”  The assumption is: Of course you can’t be sexy if you are fat and of course, if you are a woman, you must be sexy.  All through my youth there was a part of me that admired the woman who was not sexy and therefore did not have to glamorize her self.  This woman was not being watched or looked at and had long since decided on a lifestyle with different demands.  I deeply admired this kind of woman.

But the point is, that people are being denigrated and disparaged because they are overweight.  Many will righteously criticize the obese making statements like: “fatty, stop feeding your face and you are a tub of lard.”  Public Health appears to be much more concerned for the overweight than the addicted, which has been helpful for the overweight.  Public Health brings a validity to this condition.  All forms of healthy recognition can be appreciated, as long as the public understands that attacking those who suffer from addiction or obesity does not make for better public health.

What really needs to be said is this: People are not bad because they are obese, just as they are not bad because of addiction.  It doesn’t help anyone to denigrate those who struggle with their behavior.  There are no easy prescriptions for recovery and our culture does not support the discipline of sobriety, nor the task of healthy eating.  Just the opposite, our society is concerned with selling booze and hamburgers to anyone with a dollar.

While our society spins relentlessly to the music of a dollar bill, in the meantime, our part of change is to be kind, kind to everyone, everywhere and at all times.  

This means that we don’t blame, denigrate and demoralize anyone for any reason.  Obesity is not a moral failing and neither is addiction.