Be the Change…

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There are a few Christian songs that hit me, most unexpectedly, whenever I hear them included in a mass. One song, “Mighty to Save” is probably the one that evokes the most emotion from me, for some unknown reason. So Saturday night, as the congregation around me, began to sing this wonderful proclamation of love and faith, I found myself fighting-with my eyes, to keep the water, contained therein, from falling down my cheeks…

Well, everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
But let mercy fall on me
Well everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

My Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
And fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
And now I surrender
(I surrender)…

You see over that past week, my doll participated in the Yes Project, a non profit, faith in action event, which is only open to a limited number of high school students  throughout the area (she was blessed to have been chosen). Packed into the three day event, their primary goal and purpose was to “serve the people of Northwest Ohio, no matter what religious background they come from. A secondary goal is to foster the change in the hearts and minds of young people through their encounters with people in need and situations that they may have never seen. 

          So, as I sat there in the church, hearing the lyrics, “Well everyone needs compassion…” I began to fight back the urge to cry. Just watching  as she entered the church, I could see from her demeanor, she had experienced something profound and I eagerly waited to hear all about her three days of hard work, service and new found friendships.
 
          Following the mass and a brief slide show recounting the projects completed afterwards, our doll approached her parents and gave her father a great big hug and then me, before we retrieved her overnight gear from the main gym. As she handed me her gear, she stopped, walked over to another group of girls and gave out more hugs. Then I watched as she gave her cell number to another girl, before coming back to me. “Sorry mom,” She said, taking back some of her gear. “No worries doll,” I replied, happy she had made such good friends in so short a time. “Are you interested in doing this again next year?” I asked. “Yes, and I’m bringing my cousins too!” She said emphatically.
          Later, after she’d been home for a while, she opened up about her experiences, talking a mile a minute about all the people she’d met and encountered, the appreciative behavior from those who received their help, along with the realization of how poor some people really are. “Mom are you aware there are some adults who can’t read? We worked at a housing development sponsored by the Catholic diocese, where they offer GED classes. I thought all adults knew how to read. It’s really sad that they can’t.” She said. “I also wasn’t aware of how much gang activity there is in our city…” She lamented after recalling a story about a family gunned down, simply because the husband and wife came from different gang affiliations.
           “How does this make you feel?” I asked. She thought for a moment and then said, “I am so blessed. I mean, I already knew I was, but, now I know because I’ve seen what hardships really looks like,” She said, then added, “This experience has given me an entirely new and different perspective on the world. I’m so thankful for having had this experience and I can’t wait until next year,” she added with a smile.
 
          As the evening drew to a close, she asked me to pull up a song/video on YouTube, by the Christian singer Britt Nichole called “Be The Change”.  “This was our theme song all week and I’m going to try and carry this theme with me from here on out,” She said. “Great!” I thought as the song played, “Now I’ll have another song to entice my eyes to leak”.
          Thank you YES Project! We are so very proud of our doll and her growth through service and being the change in other’s lives.
                PS. Sunday night she told me, a junior crew leader, during affirmations; called her a “silent leader”–in that if she saw something or someone in need of help, she just took charge and helped out–without asking if this is what she should do. How did that make you feel?” I asked and she laughed, “That’s just who I am…” She replied and I smiled. “Not a bad trait to have,” I offered and she modestly nodded. Meanwhile, though invisible to her, but emphatic to myself, I vigorously  nodded my head in agreement.
YES “VERY PROUD” indeed.

 

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I hate you… i love you

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There are always two sides to love and hate. Love evolves from trust and beauty, hate from anger, fear and despair. Even when someone says they “Hate” you, is that really the truth? On average, I try never to say “hate”, because that reveals more about me, than my dislike of some person. Instead I’ll use terms like “loath”, or “extremely dislike”. Sometimes however, the word “Hate” can be used simply as a means to gain someones attention.

Imagine receiving and email from your son which reads, “I think I hate you…” How would you respond? In addition to “Hating” me, he also added that since I don’t take the time to listen to him, I must listen  effectively hate him in return. I replied with an email saying, “You sell me too short, but we need to talk…so let’s set up a time this evening to talk”.

We met on our front stoop and sat down to talk. My husband, who was not invited to participate nevertheless, sat just inside the house, waiting for a chance to offer input when the boy voiced his displeasure with me. “You don’t even recognize me for being in the room…” His first salvo began. “How can I miss you?” I replied. “I’m not talking about my size mom, you never listen to what I say-you simply tone me out,” he returned. “Are you prepared to enter college right now?” I asked. “What?” He replied. “Because in two short months, you’ll be entering your college alone-without your father or I standing behind you, ready to catch you if you fall. Are you ready for this?” “I don’t see what this has to do with you ignoring me,” He replied. “Think about this bay, I won’t be there…you won’t have anyone with you to make you stand on your own two feet and get shit done. Are you ready for this?” “You’re not making sense… you don’t understand what I’m saying to you. Half the time you act like I’m not even here, except when you yell at me about getting a job…” he tried again.

“Have you found a job?” I asked knowing the answer. “No, but that’s not what this meeting is about…” He returned. “Hell if it isn’t. Tell me why you haven’t actively looked for a job? I mean seriously, how do you plan to pay for books?” I asked. “Don’t you think I wonder that too?” He said, acting as if the money fairy was going to appear and take care of everything. “Then where’s the job bay?” “Mom, stop lecturing me and listen to what I have to say…” He said angrily. “Okay…speak your mind…” I said and there was a long pregnant pause.

“I had a script written in my head earlier, but now, I can’t seem to find the right words to explain how angry I am with you,” He began. “When we were on vacation, there were several times you cut me off, when I was speaking. You treated me as an invisible person, never allowed me to voice an opinion…” He tried again. Once he concluded his father jumped in and said, “But hey, you weren’t interested in doing anything we wanted to do. Every time we went out, you decided to stay home…you separated from us, and now your mad at your mother for treating you the way you treated us?”

He thought for a moment and drew in a heavy sigh. “Bay, why haven’t you actively searched for a job this summer?”  I asked and he finally spilled the beans, “Because I don’t want to…” “Yep, just as I suspected. Are you going to get out of your own way at school?” I asked. “Considering I generally like school, I don’t see why you’re worried about that…” He said. “Considering you don’t want to get a job to help pay for books and general needs at school, considering you are required to find a job to cover your work study loan, will you get out of your own way and do so? Will you be able to find this job without me pushing or harping on your back? Will you be able to find a job on your own?” I asked.

Finally, I hope, he understood where I was coming from. “I’d like to think I will…” He said. “For your sake, you’re going to have to grow up a lot in the next two months and become responsible. We don’t want this to be a one and done year at Muskingum. We’d like you to have a wonderful experience at school…but you have to make this happen on your own…” His father explained.

****

Since the conversation, the boy has told me he loves me every time he sees me–even when he’s upset with me; which is great. But as his mom, I still worry about his future three and a half hours from home school.  But I am happy to report he has begun to take more responsibility for his future–he’s taken driver’s ed and with luck will have his license before leaving for school. In addition, last week he opened a checking account and deposited his graduation money, which incidentally, will pay for his first semester of books.  Yes, he’s making strides into adulthood. 

But, during our conversation he asked me to stop including him in my Mean Mommy’s blogs saying, ” I don’t like meeting friends of yours who know me (through your blogs), but I don’t know them”. Trying to salvage his inclusion I argued,  “They don’t know you, they only know my interpretation of you–that’s different,” which didn’t add much to his dislike of the situation. Considering he’s eighteen, I agreed to his request.

So, while the boy is away at school…he will only be written about in passing. The doll however, has made no such claims to me so for now, she’s fair game.

However, he hasn’t left yet…

 

 

raining cats and dogs…

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Three weeks ago, our dog Dixie went to heaven, contrary to what some may think. She was a Jack Russell terrorist by name and deed. She was not the nicest of dogs you would ever have met and frankly, had we not rescued her from a sad situation, she would not have been our first pick for pet. But, in the eight years she was ours, she was a member of our family and is missed. 

Ever since I let the doll in on the fact that I pushed the age requirement for her to have a dog by two years due to a mispronunciation on her part; when she was six, she’s enjoyed hammering me with pictures and queries about when we will give her this long awaited/overdue dog or cat. The original excuse was, “We can’t bring a puppy into this environment with Dixie. It just wouldn’t be fair for her” but has since become, “Give us at least six months on the dog…” (and never on the cat),” even though, I wouldn’t mind never revisiting the idea of getting another pet.

Yet every day she hammers me about her desire to have a pet. All of her friends have pets–in fact some have more than their share…

“Mom, Kay has seven cats, two dogs, two pot bellied pigs, five rabbits and a bird,” She told me the other day, owning that hint of envy in her voice. “Good for that smelly house…” I replied. “But, it’s not fair. I mean yesterday she found a kitten in her bushes and her parents let her keep him and he’s soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute!” She further pushed. “Well at least you got a picture of the kitten to admire…” I began before she gave me a very unhappy look. “Sorry for your luck doll,” I replied and moved on.

“The next time I see Kay I’m going to ask her to stop sending cute pictures of her pets to our doll, or I won’t let her talk to her any more,” I said in frustration to my husband. Of course, I can’t stop them from talking, but it sure feels like a good solution-if only temporary. “She’ll lose interest once school starts back up,” He offered in support. “That’s far too long a time to be needled by her,” I returned adding, “Plus it doesn’t help when the two of you scroll through animal videos together.” “Wha? I’m trying to be the nice parent,” He replied. “Do you want another dog right now?” I asked. “Well, not at the moment…” He offered to which I replied, “Then stop encouraging her!”

But alas, no encouragement is needed. “Mom you promised me a dog…” “Mom you lied to me…” “Mom you never should have told me the truth…” She hammers at me every single day. So I decided to change the rhetoric a bit asking her if she could really afford to have a pet. “Do you have enough money saved for vet visits-at least once a year. Sweet Pea (our first dog) had allergies, so we had to pay for the drugs and shots she received every year. Do you have enough money saved to pay for these services?” “I thought you would help me,” She replied. “But this will be “YOUR” dog, so you would be the one financially responsible for the pet. In addition, when you go to college in three years, what are you going to do with the pet then?” Think long and hard doll if caring for a dog right now-instead of waiting until your better equipped to care for one, is the best choice,” I tried.

Yesterday she didn’t hammer me with her want of a puppy, so I thought maybe we were over the hump. This morning she asked how close to Christmas would she have to wait, before receiving a puppy.  Oh brother!

 

Breathers…

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The doll is taking an online summer school health class and for some reason she’s decided to wait until the end of each day to do the reading and take the chapter quiz, which has put her in a very testy mood each night. “I’m going to murder someone soon!” She announced. “Doll?” “Mom this laptop keeps freezing…” she retorted. “Why did you wait until the end of the day…” I began but was cut off. “When I do my homework should have no consequence on why this stupid laptop freezes,” she angrily retorted. 

Last night, while the boy was happily sitting on the living room floor playing a video game, listening to music through his headphones, his sister decided to take umbrage with his presence, while she worked unhappily on her homework from the loveseat behind him. “Must you breathe so loud?” She yelled. Oblivious to her remark he continued to play unaware. A minute later she offered, “My God, you sound like you’re snoring!!” “Doll!! Knock it off!” I scolded. Then she replied, “He needs to learn to breath through his nose! He’s so freaking loud!!” She said as her voice rose with ire.  “Doll, go and do your work in another room. He’s minding his own business and furthermore, I don’t hear him breathing loud. You’re merely taking your frustrations out on him. Knock it off!” She moaned in frustration and quit complaining, but remained in the room.

After a spell, she apologized about her outburst saying, “I’m sorry about my behavior. My chapter on “stress” was stressing me out!”  Smiling, I shook my head and replied, “Fine, but perhaps if you didn’t wait until the end of the day to do your work…” She nodded in reply, then promised to do the work earlier in the day from here on out. But, knowing my procrastinating doll, I doubt little will change in that capacity.

in days of old…

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When I first began writing my Mean Mommy’s Blog, I was a stay at home mom with plenty of time on my hands. Today, when I finally get a chance to sit down and write, the day is over and my writing abilities and stamina are long gone. Between working with the elderly (who deserve my undivided attention while in my care) and my children’s developing lives, I really haven’t been able to find the time to write; which is sad, because a lot of neat things are happening and if I don’t write about them, I’m too soon to forget. Yes, being 53 is tantamount to losing one’s brain. 

But alas, this is where I happen to be at the moment. So, something has to change. Either I quit working (that would not be beneficial to anyone) or scale down-which I have been doing. But something has to change so I can clear a path for writing-both for my readers and for myself. I miss the act of writing, editing and publishing. I truly aspire to write something daily, but can’t seem to make the connection from my head to my fingertips to the keyboard. 

So this is where we are…

This Mean Mommy’s Memoir will continue to exist when I find time to write and tell you funny stories, but with a twist. 

Last year shortly following the political conventions, I began posting beautiful pictures as a way to spin some beauty around the ugly campaign season and found doing so helped make myself feel better too. As we’ve seen from recent days, while beauty is all around us, somehow humans are inexplicably blind-preferring to see and invent evil at every turn. Therefore, I’m bringing back the pretty pictures-human, plant, earth, water, sun whatever tickles my fancy. These I will try to post daily, but via my other blog site, Segues on the Path. This way maybe we’ll all start to experience some joy and begin to feel better about the world around us (politics be damned). But if not, at least I will. Look for this blog to begin Monday June 26.

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As for the Mean Mommy’s blog, it will remain the same; something akin to this. Enjoy! 

Last month at the start of the boy’s Baccalaureate Mass (Catholic graduation ceremonial blessing) a thought occurred to me that I decided to share with my hubby. Opening my iPhone, I typed into my notes section of my phone “I think I may have left the iron on” then handed my phone to my husband-who was seated on the other side of my doll in between us. Shaking his head in a “So?” manner, I retrieved my phone and wrote, “Let’s hope the house doesn’t burn down…” and handed my phone back to him. Leaning across our doll, he noted, “Don’t you mean pray, I mean we are in the perfect place to ask that our house doesn’t burn down…” Looking back at him, wanting to smack him, I only nodded. Our doll, sensing my ire leaned over and said, “Dad’s right,” and then smiled warmly at me. “Fine,” I replied, then turned my attention back to the ceremony at hand, adding a prayer that our house didn’t burn down during the ceremony.

After all the fanfare subsided and we returned home, I found the iron still turned on, laying flat down on the ironing board. However, the power strip the appliance had been plugged into was turned off. So I guess my prayers were answered, tho in a round about kind of way.

****
 

 

accidental late nights with my doll… (are the greatest nights of the week)

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Not too long ago, I wrote a blog concerning the Netflix show, 13 Reasons Why, (a show about teen suicide) which I recommended viewing. Since then, there has been a lot of backlash against the program, primarily for the show’s failure to list a suicide prevention hotline for teens considering suicide to call, in addition to the ease and popularity of viewing this TV-MA program among teenagers; without parental supervision. My doll and I watched the show together, which led to a broader discussion about the maturity of teenagers problem solving skills. In doing so, we’ve also been able to keep an open dialogue between us-which I treasure and consider a blessing to us both.

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“Mom, I need to talk to you!” My doll said as she opened the door to me early Saturday morning. I had just walked home from my parish festival, after having volunteered all evening. “What’s going on?” I asked. “Mom, there’s this boy from my class….” She began and for a moment I blanked out. “A boy, what the..?” before regaining my composure and asked her to start over, quipping, “You’re talking too fast for your old mom to keep up. Now slow down and start over…” She looked back hard at me and asked, “Have you been drinking?” “Water? Yes. Beer? Yes–Lot’s of both? No.  Now start over…” I implored and directed her to join me at the kitchen table where we could share a more intimate conversation.

“Okay, there’s this boy in my class who…” and again, my mind began to swirl, but instead of getting lost in my thoughts, I re-engaged in the conversation, “I don’t think has too many friends…” she said.”Was he in any of your classes?” I asked. “No, I only saw him in the hallway, when we changed classes, but, I never saw him talk with anyone, so I began saying “Hi” to him, whenever we passed each other.” My heart smiled knowing I have a caring daughter who’s still adhering to the promise she made to herself, upon entering High School: to not be so shy. “In any case, we became ‘friends’ on Instagram over the course of the year and talk every once in a while, more about animals than anything-he has a cat; until today when he sent me an invitation to attend a pool party he’s throwing next Saturday.” She explained.

Finally, the dilemma quickly came into focus…

“Okay…” I replied tentatively before asking, “Do you want to go?” “I don’t know…” She replied with an exasperated tone. “Doll?” I began again, “Do you consider him a friend or more an acquaintance?” I asked. “I mean I think he’s nice, but, I don’t know him very well so he’s more of an acquaintance than not. Yet we are friends on “Instagram,” She waffled. “So I’m not sure where he sees me. And, if he doesn’t have many friends and built up the courage to ask me and I say no…I don’t want him to think I don’t like him too…” She rattled off. “Doll….wait, you can’t worry about that… ” I said and she gave me back an odd look.

Reading her face I wondered if there was more subtext going on than just attending a pool party. “So, you’re not sure if he has any friends, right? I asked. “Well, I know he’s in the band…” She said. “Okay, that’s good, then his band mates should account for something. What about your friend in the band, why don’t you ask her about him?” “I did and she said he’s ‘okay’ but that she really didn’t know him very well..” “Oh…” I replied. “So you see my problem?” She asked. “Doll, just because you haven’t seen any evidence of friends, does not mean he doesn’t have any… however, I get what your saying,” I replied. “Mom, he just comes off as an introspective person and if this is his way to reach out and try to make friends, I don’t want to be the one who shuts down his self esteem…”  “Doll, you are not allowed to be responsible for him if you turn down his invitation. That’s not fair to anyone, especially you,” I said and then added, “And if you need a good excuse, blame me and say your mom won’t let you da….” I started but was immediately interrupted, “Whoa!! I said nothing about a date!” She scolded.

“Doll, remember, I’ve had a few drinks here, okay? Sometimes my semantics are out of whack, ” I returned, adding,  “So let’s try this again. You tell this boy you’re mother is uncomfortable with you attending a pool party at a boy’s home -especially one she doesn’t know. In addition, tell him ‘She doesn’t let me do anything without having a trusted friend with me’–see there is power in numbers doll.  Then ask him if there are any girls you might know who will be attending, or better yet, ask if you could bring a girl friend along too? You see, that way it’s not you saying “no” to him, it’s me. Then when and if you can’t find a girlfriend who’s going or wants to go with you, you have a reason to say, “Sorry, my mom won’t let me. What do you think?”

She didn’t answer for a few minutes, weighing the good and bad in my proposition. “What if…” She began, but I shut her down. “What if nothing. In the morning, send him a text using me and then we’ll cross the next bridge when we come to it,” I said.

Then our conversation changed, while she considered her options. “Here let me show you what he looks like…” She said, pulling up his Instagram profile on my laptop. “Oh he’s a good looking kid…” I said and she replied, “He’s not ugly, but not really my type…he has a pensive personality…” “Well, there is nothing wrong with that…” I replied as our conversation meandered toward something else. After a spell, I glanced over at the clock and saw the time had advanced to 2:30 am and announced, “Doll, we need to go to bed-you’re dad’s going to be up soon and wondering what the heck we’re doing…” “Oh my gosh, I didn’t realize it was this late…” She added. As we stood to leave the kitchen, we hugged and she said, “Thanks for talking this out with me,” to which I replied, “Anytime doll, I love you and that’s what I’m here for,” before we separated, turned out lights and went off toward our respective beds.

Walking into the upstairs bathroom to brush my teeth, I ran smack dab into my husband, who was busy getting ready for work. “Can you believe how lucky I am?” I said to him. “What, did you fall asleep at the kitchen table again?” He asked. “No, I’ve been talking with your daughter about a boy who invited her to a pool party next weekend. I think she’s going to beg off by using me. But the point is, she met me at the door and wanted me to help her sort this out. She wanted to talk to me. We are very blessed to have a teen who wants to talk openly to her parents…” I said feeling proud, blessed and very sleepy too.

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The pool party is this Saturday and as suspected, she was unable to find a girl friend willing to go–so her mother poo pooed the whole idea. In addition, she picked up a baby sitting job during that same time period, which she feels is kismet… and best of all, she’s still talking with me about all sorts of stuff.

Win Win Win across the board.

Muskingum…

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Over the past year, the boy, his father and I have traveled to various University open house events, to allow the boy to find his collegiate home for the next four years. In my heart of hearts, I wanted him to attend a certain school twenty miles from home–far enough away to give him the “college” experience, but close enough to home in case of an emergency. But as my luck prevailed, he chose Muskingum University in New Concord, Ohio…three and a half hours away.

Three and a half hours…?

“Considering the distance away, this school better be all that and a steak dinner…” I thought when he signed his acceptance letter to be mailed back, including my $200 deposit. But the school’s location does have one or two things going for itself.. first of all, the school is located an hour southeast from Columbus, OH where a large contingent of first cousins live-not to mention my brother and his wife. If problems should arise that he can’t get a handle on, he has a strong network of family ready and willing to assist him–until his father and or I can get there.  Secondly, the school is located in a very beautiful part of the state. Unlike his hometown, the campus sits high upon rolling hills, which the students must traverse to get to classes. His father and I especially like this as the boy will finally get some much needed exercise. As the boy likes to say, “The Freshman fifteen will be in weight loss due to walking everywhere…” Let’s hope this is true (tho not holding my breath).

Wednesday night, the boy and I drove down to the campus so he could attend their “Preview” day aka Freshman Orientation Thursday morning. Almost immediately they separated the students from the parents, sending them off to “meet” other students and learn more about their future. Meanwhile, us parents had our own orientation to the way things go on campus. One of the ideas they kept stressing to us was to “Care” about your child–but from a distance. Care meaning, Communicate, Ask questions, Resources–remind them to manage their time better and Encourage them to succeed.

When I arrived, I had a long list of questions. By the time we left yesterday, all my questions were answered, save two–primarily because the person who coordinates the area was on Summer break. Instead I was given an email and said, “She’ll respond to you fairly quickly…” In addition, the boy believes he’s found his college roommate (they exchanged emails and have been talking back and forth) and a place to call home for the next four years.

“Well, what did you think?” My husband asked. “I hate to say this, given the distance and such, but he’s going to thrive there…I have no doubt,” I replied. “I told you it was a good school…” He replied. “There was never a question about that. You know me, I don’t like to drive on the e-way at night. But, as for the faculty and staff? They will be holding him with kit gloves and keeping him from falling through the cracks. I had a great conversation with his Mentor–who sought me out, I might add who explained the program to me from top to bottom. Later she met with him too and he told me on the ride home, he was planning on calling her “Mom” which I let slide, ha. But you know, in two months time, he’ll know everyone and everyone will know and like him too.” I explained. “Now I just have to get used to the distance and figure out how to afford another cell phone for him to take…”

Yes, Muskingum University in New Concord, OH… The Muskies (their mascot is a tough fish), live Magenta (my all time favorite color even before we had ever heard of the name Muskingum and the only school in the nation with that color palate) and Gray (school colors), Welcome to our family.

Now to get everything in order before August 25–when we drop him off and run/drive away toward our new surreal futures…