Friday, October 31, 2008

Relax Mom, Let Your Kid Be a Kid!

While driving home from a counseling session and lunch with some girl friends, I was enjoying the fall scenery and listening to the radio all alone, at the volume I wanted! When you have two daughters with sensory disorders, especially auditory processing, most of the time, the van needs to be a quiet place, free from audio stimulation, much to my own chagrin.

Feeling free and alive, my thoughts took me back to a scene from Finding Nemo.

Remember Marlin, the scared yet determined Daddy to Nemo when he is talking to the Daddy Sea Turtle, Crush? In a panic, wide-eyed and frazzled, as he is in almost every scene, he is worried for Crush's son, Squirt who just fell out of the current into an ocean abyss. Here is how the conversation goes:

MARLIN: [gasps] Oh my goodness!

CRUSH: Whoa. Kill the motor, dude. Let us see what Squirt does flying solo.

SQUIRT: Whoa! Whoa! That was so cool! Hey dad, did you see that? Did you see me? Did you see what I did?

CRUSH: You so totally rock, Squirt! So give me some fin..noggin..


This picture paints the perfect model of my current parenting world. I am Marlin, neurotic, not able to fit in and meeting only friends that aren't quite my type like Dory or the sharks. My daughter, is little Nemo, cute and spunky, with a "Lucky Fin," (a/k/a Autism and ADHD and Mood Disorders) who despite her circumstances is making friends and growing up.

It was like God was speaking to me today on my drive home. He was saying, "Kill the motor."

Remember Nemo's first day of school for Marlin? I still want my little Nemo to go and play in the toddler bouncy area - not travel with the sting ray teacher to the drop off!!! What if she can't swim like the other kids? What if she needs a sensory break?

God is telling me, "Let's see what she does on her own..."

And, so, I will. At least I will try. Good idea God. Thanks for meeting me today and speaking in my language! You rock!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You are Here

Hi. It's me, AC, the author of this blog reporting. I am just wanting to send a quick note that from here on out, the tone of my blog is changing. I started the blog to prepare a manuscript for my book, "The Legacy of Crazy Jugs." However, after much thought, I have found that I just don't want the burden of shopping my book around, looking for an agent, taking risks and spending energy on that effort. I am going to instead use this outlet to have fun. I have met so many nice people through my blog that have made me realize that when we put our best foot forward toward a dream, that God may have a different purpose for us. I wanted to be a famous author, but God knows my needs today and wants me to make friends via the blog! I always like God's will better! That isn't to say I am giving up on my dreams, I know that God wouldn't want me to be a quitter, but today, I need to work on some basic building blocks - Creativity, Freedom, Laughter, Joy. These are at the heart of my objective, my mission to blog. Whereas before, my objective was Discipline, Audience Relevance, Fame and Fortune. My dreams remain, it is the objectives that have changed!

I am not going to promise laughter with every post. But, I am going to promise reality, unadulterated truth from my heart! So, enjoy. My next post I think I will throw an award ceremony, way past due friends!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Mystery of the Glowing Hands

It was around 7:00 a.m. this morning, I had just finished trimming my husband's hair when I saw Sarah, closing her bedroom door, looking like a naughty puppy dog. Her chin down, lip out and big blue eyes looking up at me were a warning sign of the trouble of lawlessness that had taken place just seconds before. As she rubbed her hands together, I said:

You look like you have been naughty Sarah. What's going on?

Taking the first step to solving this morning's mystery, I turned the hall light on. Her hands were white, bright white and gooey. (See crime scene photograph 1 from post below)

The next step was towards her bedroom. As I opened the door, I noticed the door knob sticky and gooey. I said:

Oooo. What is this?

At first glance of the crime scene, I noticed her chair had been moved over the her closet where her clothes and diaper supplies are stored. And the room had a pleasantly fresh aroma. As I tried to place the scent, my eyes fell upon the suspect. Elmo. (see crime scene photograph 2 from post below) Sarah said:

Elmo's bottom hyurts.

AH HA! (see crime evidence photograph 3 from post below) It was Sarah and Elmo, partners in crime, in the baby room, with the jar of Butt Paste.

Mystery solved. Now if you will excuse me I have got a lot of laundry to do...

Photographs from the Crime Scene

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunday Scribbling: I am CRAZY about myself


I don't LIKE myself, I am CRAZY about myself.

In fact, I write about myself almost daily in my own blog. I even tweet about myself all day long.

TIME magazine released its person of the year in 2006 was YOU. Now, it's ME.

Favorite past times, checking my growing list of connections in LinkedIn, friends in Facebook and followers in Twitter. I check in on these lists frequently and boast and brag to my husband.

But, if no one comments on my post or accepts my friend request, I am crushed! I feel so sad and lonely.

The question begs to differ, am I really crazy about myself, or just plain crazy?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Are these Jugs Real? The Legacy of the Step Child Part IV

I am not sure if I will ever really know if I have the real Crazy Jugs or not.

There are a couple of pieces, trinkets that I recognize from the three bottles, but I think the three jugs that I have in my possession are not the original Crazy Jugs that my mom and her mother created. Ironic.

I do remember specifically asking for the Crazy Jugs during one of our phone calls. It was the time when my step dad asked me if I was interested in my mother's clothes. I said that I was not, but felt guilty about it. Like I was supposed to want my mom's size 3X older lady clothes that she probably bought on the clearance rack at KMart! Does that make me a bad, selfish daughter? She was always trying to get me to share her clothes with me. She would even buy two of the same outfits so she could keep an outfit for herself and give me the same outfit for my birthday. "No, I don't think I want any of her clothes, Tom," I answered. "I would like to have my Miami diploma and her Crazy Jugs though. They are probably in some of the boxes from the garage. I am going to try to come for a visit some time this summer for a few days and help you go through those boxes. I have to find someone to watch the girls though."

Not only did I have to find someone to watch my two children, ages one and four. But I also had recently learned during this time that my four year old daughter was diagnosed with Sensory Integration, ADHD and Autism. Finding someone to care for them would be challenging. I also had my own failed business I was trying to dissolve and we were in the midst of a move, buying and selling our house! Tom never seemed too concerned for all of my issues though. He did however keep some pseudo jugs for me. I found them in special boxes in the garage later that year that he so carefully set aside for me.

It was in one of those boxes I found the three Crazy Jugs that I have now. However, just as my step father hid my mother's real gold and diamond jewelry from me and tried to trick me with all of her costume jewelry, he didn't want me to have the original Crazy Jugs. My step father probably kept them or sold them for a quarter at his garage sale.

I am still so angry towards him. I know that he is elderly and that he loved my mom very much for 15 years. He was very special to my mother. He swept my mother's heels off the floor of single-hood and was a world traveling partner to my mother. I also recognize that he added value to my life in other ways along my journey. He made the opportunity for me to travel to Europe one summer in college. I made memories that summer that will last my entire life!

He was a good guy. He once was very accomplished engineer for the city of Cincinnati. But, with the stress of losing my mom and his years of life pushing upward to 80, the dementia has started to shrivel his character and his heart I once adored. I once admired him for his advice and would seek his guidance in the areas of my career and matters of the heart. He was the warm fatherly figure that my own dad could not be for me. He was supportive and stable for both my mom and me. He's pictured in my photos with me from my first college dorm room, graduation from Miami University, my first job overlooking Michigan Avenue in Chicago, my broken hearts from all the chaps before I met Fred, my courtship and wedding with Fred and the births of my two children. He has shared an important role in some of the most significant chapters of my life.

Yet, the role that he has played since my mom passed away has been far from fatherly towards me. More like a villain and a shrewd thief.

I haven't talked to my step father since we left last Christmas time. That was the time when I first learned about my mother's will. The will only allowed me to have her jewelry and day to day belongings. The day to day belongings that he had boxed up for a garage sale to sell shortly after she passed away.

There were a few boxes that were set aside in the garage and were labeled "For Andrea." When I saw the tattered boxes, I was hopeful and dare I say, even excited. Alone in the cold smelly garage, I smiled like a child who just caught her mommy's attention after months of absence and neglect. I had hoped that my mom had branded certain items that she wanted me to have someday. I was hoping to find special items from my childhood. And when I started to unravel the items in the boxes, I admit that there were a few items that indeed took me down memory lane.

The large green Mother Goose book that my mom and I read every night before bed was in one of the boxes. That was the same book that I had resting on my knee one wintery night as I hopped into the bed and the top corner of the spine poked my upper lip. I still have the small scar underneath my nose. I can still recall my mom holding me like a rag doll as she ran frantically up and down the hallway not knowing if she should take me to the hospital.

Setting in the same box, I recognized some old oafy stuffed monkeys from my grandmother. She would bring me big stuffed monkeys she'd buy from the corner drug store just before arriving for her visits with me while my mother took weekend trips with her boy friends.

There also were photo albums. I was looking forward to spending time on those only to find out of the 20 albums, several of them were full of photos of my mother with male friends whom I didn't even know. The other albums are priceless to me - at least I think that is the way I am supposed to feel about photo albums from my childhood, right?

And, then there were a lot of other things in the boxes that I couldn't decipher. What were they? Were they garbage? And, why were these items marked just for me? Broken picture frames, papers from my mother's college days, reams of paper and notebooks from my step father's surveying business. And, at the bottom of each of these shredded, mildew-infested boxes, were droppings, maybe from rats, most likely from the demons who lurked around me while I tried to grieve and cry out to God to heal my broken tattered and wounded heart.

Monday, October 20, 2008

October Tree

October tree you bring a sense of comfort to my soul. Comfort from your stability, robust and bursting with beauty. There you stand, waving in the fall breeze to me, golden and stoic, friendly and true.

How many years have you grown in that spot? How many seasons have passed you by? How many leaves cover you up then drop when the breezes blow by?

One year to the next, I move at a blazing pace wondering and waiting to change all while needing to stand, tall in one place as you do, stand fearless and still not bending to wind, the moon or a mood on somebody's face.

October tree you let me be me. You remain yet change, you give yet take both beauty and awe you are and will forever be.

Creative Writing by Andrea Cook, Crazy Jugs
Photography by Tammy Warren, A Day to Share with Tammy

Why the Disdain?

Why do you disdain me? I have accepted that you have excluded me, excommunicated me but I still wonder why. Although I am your first born, I am not worthy of your presence. Is it because I am a woman? Is it because I am my mother's daughter?

Why does the sound of my voice make you shrill? I can see it in your eyes, although our eyes never connect. We have the same eyes for one another now, hazel and disconnected. I used to want your approval, your love and acceptance. I tried. I called, reached out. I forgave you. Still do.

Yet, I can feel your rejection in my bones. I can sense your recoil when I enter a room. It is painful.

Where did the man go who taught me to tie my shoes and ride my bike? Have I gotten too fat for you to love me anymore? Have I not been successful enough, or too successful. Do I not deserve you and your love any longer?

Perhaps you do not feel worthy of me so you shrill away. Perhaps you see the pain you have caused me and you can't face it. I doubt that you can see that deep.

It was easier to accept you and your flaws when you were stronger, younger. It was easier to set boundaries with you then, easier to shut you out. Now that you are weak and dying, I feel I should be more for you, better to you. But what more can I do? I have tried as much as I can.

Perhaps you feel the same way.

I have already started to grieve you. Years ago I started to grieve you. I had to grieve my own mother before she passed away too. You know her, the woman you once loved then spent my whole life hating and telling me about it even on the day I was on my way to bury her. When you both divorced when I was two years old, I must have still had hope for happiness. Today, I grieve that hope and grieve that happiness.

With my own beloved husband and beautiful children, I find my heart still broken, unable to love them in the way I want. I try. I have spent countless of resources on self help books, counseling, support groups, rehab and Bible studies. Yet, in my mid-to-late-thirties, here I sit writing about the emptiness and sorrow. I chose love and a bright future, but only find loneliness and heartache.

Was this depression and mental instability in our blood, passed through the family tree? Or did your actions spur the insecurities in my heart, breaking it forever more? Now, my own children, ripe with life and the light of their future ahead of them, both struggle with mood disorders, depression and anxiety. Did I cause their brokenness from my actions or was it an illness handed to them from the core of their being found in the womb?

I am not trying to pass blame. I am just trying to solve this puzzle. Also, wondering why the disdain for me, your first-born, your only daughter?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Kissing Hand

This is Sarah, age 2. She loves cuddling and giggles just at the word, tickle.

When she struts into a room, her smile lifts up her cheeks and lights up the souls of everyone around her, especially her mommy. That's me!

I have a lot of kisses to give Sarah. Since her older 'seesta' doesn't like kisses, (more about Sienna's avoidance of kisses in previous posts) this mamma has lots of smoochies stored up and ready to give away. It brightens my day when Sarah notices I have a little lipstick on and she wants kisses on her hands. It makes me want to put lipstick on just to wait for her to ask for me to kiss her little chubby baby silk mittens!

And, in looking at this photo, I get all emotional because I realize how soft and tender her little paws are in my dry and wrinkled hand. I realize how long my journey has been and how far she has yet to come. I want to make the journey easier for her. I want her to light her own path with her smile and I don't want my kisses to wear off of her hands. Not ever.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thank you for your Legacy

Thank you for your legacy.

Your legacy that allowed you to make all the choices that you want and not suffer the consequences. The road frequently traveled, the easy path that cushioned your feet. No blisters, no heavy breathing. Never knowing what it is like going without.

No morals, no self control, no conflict resolution. And you continue on your own path. Remaining comfortable, fat and full yet so unfulfilled.

There you sit on your Lazyboy. Which came first, the laziness or the chair? Your soul missing like the remote control you can't seem to find.

Grass is greener on the other side. Why not trek over to it? Leave behind what ever you don't want, what ever you can't care for any longer. Pass along your debt, your inequities, your legacy to me. Let me, your child care for you when you age. Let me, your child, your first born be left with nothing as you start over with your new life and your new wife. Allow me, at two years of age care for your first wife. The wife you first chose, then chose to leave. Your wife, already born with mental illness now and forever broken from divorce. Heart severed forever until it stops living. Let that what is united by God not be destroyed by man. Unless the man her heart once had become one with leaves. Unless that man once made child with leaves. Unless that man, once a man was never really a man just a victim and coward.

And you are a byproduct of your society. Cultivated by the greed and the darkness of your time. Your time of free love and Howdy Doody time. All trickery, a mere facade of brokenness and destruction. Broken intimacy broken dreams. Destroyed by the lack of care of others. Mixed cocktails swirl around like a chirping bird to quiet the soul but do not drown out the cries for help.

Who are you now? What are you feeding on? What is your legacy?

Needy. Control.


Special needs? Everyone is special.

Too needy? Aren't we all?

Need a friend? But my friends are spread too thin as it is. I just moved here. Potential friends see my heavy baggage and they don't want to be friends with me. They all have their heavy burdens that they need to unload on me. So, I run away from them, withdraw into a cave. I only come out when I can leave my heavy load behind in the darkened lot that God has given me for today.

Today? Only today? Hoping for a brighter tomorrow? But when? Then what?

Oh how I wish I had more control. Control of my own life. Control of my thoughts just long enough so that I could put away the dishes without being interrupted or distracted with another task in my brain. Control over my home so that I was organized and my home was clean and tidy. Control over my temper so that I didn't explode like my kids with autism and ADHD! I wish I had control over my body so that when I cut back on calories and added additional exercise I would actually lose weight and feel some sort of reward.

Rewards. I thrive on them, just like my kids. But I can't organize our lives long enough to make a reward chart. If and when I do, I can't follow through on it. It falls off the fridge and gets thrown away. Or, my kids scribble or rip it. Or, when I try to show my kids the reward, I can't capture their attention long enough.

I could use a reward. Not in the form of stickers though. More like vacations, weekend getaways, date night, manicure or pedicure, shopping for a winter coat that I have needed for three years, someone to just call me and let me ramble without me feeling like I owe them.

Tit for tat. And that's that.

Sugar and spice and everything nice. That's what little girls are made of. Yeah, right. Whateves.

What about the effect that autism, ADHD and mood disorders have on the parents?

I think if I had a job again, it would give me structure, some form of control, self esteem. It would give me a break. It would give me adult interaction. It would just be a Band-aid. A Band-aid for this big boo boo that God is allowing me to suffer through right now.

It's back to the basics for me for today.

"Out for a Walk, Be Back at Noon"

IEP What good are you anyway?

It's not like the team of professionals even know how to help my daughter.

We were actually told that because she's not receiving services, she isn't eligible for an IEP.

She's not receiving services because last year, YOU didn't believe or accept her autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.

After five professional diagnoses to "prove" something is challenging my daughter, and a teacher along with the school's psychologist telling us that the only thing wrong with Savana is her mother who needs counseling and needs to stop sending her child to get tested so frequently, the committee finally agreed that my daughter did have Asbergers.


Now after she has gone a year without any services to help her, been bullied and misunderstood on the playground because of her social deficits. She has developed severe depression, at the age of 6.

We brought an IEP over from Illinois for Development Delays. This was before I had even heard the word Autism regarding my own daughter. She had minutes allotted for OT and Social Services. When we reviewed the IEP in new state, the committee laughed at the term Social Services, "What are Social Services? We don't even know what those are."

At yesterday's case conference, my husband and I told the committee that we weren't going to sign their recommendation and we were going to keep the IEP as is. They replied, "IEP? You don't have an IEP."

Well then. That explains everything, crystal clear and surreal like the Twighlight Zone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

IEP Rant and Reason

The reason you claim that my daughter is not eligible for IEP services at this time is because you don't understand her and her complex social needs. You don't want to validate the parent's view points or the professional assessments from three psychologists and two occupational therapists or the IEP we had prior to moving to this hillbilly rural town because if you do acknowledge my daughter's diagnoses, then you will have to step up and actually retrain your old fashioned minds to learn something new. Stop coasting and stop hiding behind state governed regulation clauses that give you the excuse to be ignorant and not face the facts. The facts that my daughter is special. That she will become someone important. That she has needs that go beyond ABC's and 123's. She is a first grader reading on a ninth grade level. Of course she is getting straight A+s! If she didn't she would go into an emotional shock. If she didn't perform and get along at school in front of her favorite teacher and peers, she would burst. She would burst into a hot lava fit of rage just like she does a many of days right before school and right after school. But hey! You say you aren't responsible for the child when she is outside the school doors.

More on my rant about this later. Daughter is home now.

Friday, October 10, 2008

What Do I Want?

I went to the movies with a couple of girl friends last night to watch The Women starring Meg Ryan and many many women stars. In fact there isn't a man in one scene of the entire movie.

There were layers of interesting themes ranging from marriage struggles, mother and daughter bonding, friendships, relationships, careers, pop culture, party ideas, etc., it would have made a perfect blog all in itself! The characters were richly developed given the full spectrum of issues revealed. There was one main theme that I found most intriguing and inspiring: WHAT DO I WANT?

Meg Ryan played Mary, the perfect one. No doubt her character's name was to reflect the ideal Biblical mother of God, Mary. Her only character flaw was that she did nothing for herself. She always lived her life for others. In the midst of hosting a ladies luncheon in her home, she sat around with her lady friends and commented that she was contemplating on having another baby. She just thought that is what she was supposed to do. She thought she only wanted one child, but maybe she wants another. She knew there was a void in her soul, she thought she was supposed to fulfill it by bearing a child. But, fate won over and she finally fell into a season in her life when she was forced to reflect on who she was and who was she to become.

She did everything for everyone else though she was given zero respect. Her husband cheated on her, her daughter couldn't connect with her and her best friend even sold her out. It had to take gut-wrenching betrayal by these people who she loved the most to finally force her to stop and meditate on what she really wanted. She made a wall of everything that inspired her to help her find out what it was she wanted.

I am going to stop blogging now. I want to make a similar shrine for myself. This past year, so much has changed for me. I don't know if the bottom fell out from beneath my feet, or if I am just on a higher ground, ready to redefine my dreams, my goals, what I want.

Stay tuned for future posts when I share with you my revelations. I encourage you too to dwell on this question. Love yourself enough to know what you want! Dream again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mommy on Phone

Title: Mommy on Phone
Artist: Toddler in Time Out
Medium: Black Crayon on White Basement Wall

Heart of Gold


I have always believed that when life is at your toughest, that is when your true self is revealed. Your true character is manifested in your responses to your trials and tribulations. Not only do trials and tribulations serve as the touchstone of your character, they also help create and stabilize your character. Just as a smelting heat is used to separate gold from rock and refine that gold into a precious metal, God allows us to endure trials not only to test our character but to refine it. And through these trying circumstances, He redefines us, purifies us.

So, after all of the tests, the trials and the tribulations, I should be more refined right?

Nope. Not yet. Must still be getting burned. I swear more. I withdraw more. I drink more. I remember that I used to go to church every Sunday. Look forward to it. We don't go to church anymore. I used to smile all the time. I don't smile any more. I don't even make eye contact. I used to initiate play dates and girls night outs. I used to reach out and welcome people. I don't play. I don't reach out any more.

Where did that woman go? Who is this in my skin today?

Just call me the female form of Job, you can call me "Joba."

I might just change my Twitter profile to Joba. Seems fitting.

Lord, why have you forsaken me? I used to love you and adore you with all of my heart but lately, you have given me too much to bear. There isn't enough love in my tank to care the way I want for my husband, my children, myself. The baggage of burdens are mine alone to carry. It makes my journey so lonely. I don't want to drag down others with my heavy load. I beg you to take over. Take this heart of mine. Take the grief and sadness I bear for my daughter as she struggles through her own life. The grief I have for my family as we shift our dreams to fit into our current circumstances. Take the disappointment I am faced with longing for laughter and friendships. Reduce my vision to accept this lot you have put at my feet. Help me to sort out my thoughts, to check off my to do lists, to sit long enough to write my to do list. My thoughts are scattered. My mind dizzy. My heart heavy, saddened. Awaken my heart to love you like I once did. Lift my eyes to see you and meet you again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Mother's Day Pearls

Aren't pearls intriguing?

When you see a strand of pearls, the first thought that comes to my mind, and yours too perhaps is, "Are they real or really fake?"

Or, perhaps you may just go about your lives, never really thinking about pearls and their unique and distinctive existence.

I can remember one day after church three years ago. I was sitting in the passenger seat while we drove away from church. My mascara running down my face like the dark gloom of a loss. As I pulled the visor down to try to take a deep breath and wipe the teared streaks from my face, I saw my strand of pearls innocently hanging around my neck. I had put them on for a special occasion that day. After almost a year of overcoming a severe bout of depression, Fred and Sienna were taking me out for Mother's Day brunch. In the past, I had always planned special Mother's Day outings for our mothers but this year, I was finally learning to try to take care of myself and not worry about everyone else as much.

The spring-like buds tried to color the scenery but the winter's wear of salt-stained streets was still upon us. That day, I was feeling a little claustrophobic in the pews so I decided to get a breath of fresh air. Since my recent struggles with depression, I was still withdrawn and being in crowds only made me more self-aware of my loneliness. I had left church a little early while Fred and Sienna stayed until the service ended and met me in the car parked along the EL tracks. While I was waiting, I decided to phone my mother to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.

Although it was late morning, my mother was still in bed, as usual. She was such a glutton. I fought with my judgmental voices every moment I was around her. That day was no exception. Anyway, we made some small talk and then I told her that I wanted to call her to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. There was a pregnant pause. Then I asked her what she was going to do for the day. She replied, "Nothing. I don't go out on Mother's Day. Mother's Day is the worst day of the year for me."

Trying not to pick up the rope and play a nasty game of tug a war with her, I kindly said my farewell and hung up the phone. And then, that is when I turned on the mascara flood. I tried to take a deep breath and regain my composure as I heard the church bells ring and knew any minute my beloved husband would be walking hand in chubby hand with my curly haired Sienna.

As they got in the car and buckled up and I glanced at my string of pearls in the mirror. They were imperfect but they were real. All through college I wore them proudly. I would even tell my friends that they were my grandmother's. My mom gave them to me shortly after my grandmother passed away. They were one of the only things my mother had given me that wasn't from the Dollar Store or KMart. I think I remember my mom telling me that Grandma had selected the oysters herself on one of her vacations. As a child I thought that was amazing.

As a child, I thought my grandmother was amazing. She used to bring me a large stuffed animal, usually a monkey every time she'd come to visit. My mom would invite her to come and stay with me while my mom traveled the world with her boyfriends. By the time I was about nine though, I realized how abusive and awful my grandmother was. She was a mean drunk. When she would come to visit, my mom would hide and lock all of our liquor in a suitcase. It didn't matter that my mom would hide her own liquor though. Grandma Helen would just have me bring in the special sack from under the driver's seat, the one with the large bottles of vodka. And, if those bottles weren't enough to get her through one visit while she stayed with me, she'd drink all our cough medicine bottles dry.

Just as a young girl who idolized her grandmother because she used to spoil her with stuffed monkeys, I grew older and some would say more disrespectful. Although, I believe that I was just more disrespected the older I got. I can't remember why my grandmother would slap me on the face, usually later in the evenings. I just knew that her slaps hurt more and more the older I got.

And now, as a grown woman who knows the difference between authenticity and garbage, I realized that the strand of pearls although genuine, are still just garbage. Tempted to open the window and toss them out onto the side of the graveled street, I tried to not be over dramatic. I didn't want to cause a scene. I wanted to enjoy this morning with my husband and daughter. I wiped the tears away and tried to close the door to the painful memories as a child. As I started to put the visor up, I caught a glance of my own daughter, trying to catch my eye. I smiled warmly at her and realized that I am no longer the child of my mother but I am now my child's mother.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Crazy Jugs of Broken Childhoods, Broken Motherhoods

I can't organize my thoughts to get a post prepared. I have attempted a few times and just come up with scattered, random sentences that end up in the draft file.

It seems like I have not gotten my life back together since my mother passed away over 18 months ago. I wonder if I will ever be happy again. Will I ever be able to manage my life the way I want? It isn't like my life was easy or happy when my mother was alive. My mother and I didn't even have a good relationship.

Sometimes when I get flustered and frustrated at Sienna, I am reminded of my own mother and how similar their behaviors are. And no matter how I want to ignore this truth, I am just like Sienna and my own mother too. When I feel so disconnected towards Sienna, I can also understand how my own mother felt. She used to try to hug me and I would cringe. I despised her kisses too. She used to say that loving me was like loving a porcupine with needles. Now, when I try to cuddle Sienna, she pulls away. When I try to kiss her on the cheek, she wipes it off harshly as if she's angry with me. There is a significant difference between my mother and me though. I seek to understand my daughter's troubles. I keep trying to be knowledgeable, strong seeking support when needed. At least, that is where I am now. Who knows how much longer I can keep my character strong.

I confess that I am saddened by my daughter's inequities to love me, just as I am saddened by my own mother's inability to love me the way a child needed loved years ago. We all go through our own lives just to cope and survive and both my mother was and my daughter is just trying to get through it as best possible. I somehow feel like I am above the standard of just reacting innately to my circumstances. I strive for more than just survival. I strive for strength. Sometimes however, I fail. I weep. I wail. I am as sad as a small child.

I also forgive. I can understand how Sienna is troubled with her sensory disorder and moods just as I was as a young little girl. How I still am. And, as a mother, I can see how empty my love tank is and I am tempted to walk away, withdraw, regress just as my own mother did throughout her prime years of her own motherhood.

My husband interrupts my daze towards the long empty hall way where my daughter just walked through, down troddened and angered, disappointed once again. He asks me. "What are you thinking about?"

I respond, "I am wondering if I was unlovable. Was I so difficult that my mom and dad just couldn't love me when I was a child? Did they divorce when I was two because the stress I put on both of them? Am I still unlovable?"

Weeping on, striving for survival. Trying to stay above the standard of failure. Taking life one day at a time, one tantrum at a time. God, please help me to keep the standard high and love me just where I am.

And the Crazy Jugs reflect the disappointment. They want to be more than they are. They want to be treasures, yet, there they stand, dusty and yellowed with plastic beads broken. How did they survive through all the years of turmoil? How did they not get lost, broken fully? They survived. They continue to reflect the memories and tell the story.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Two Bags and Now I'm Nurse Hag!

This week has been charred with a few out of body experiences. Can you relate with those stressful times in your life when the room fades into surreal and all you can hear is your heart pounding. It is like you can only understand because you are watching the scene from the outside - kind of like you are sitting in your own living room watching the stressful moment of your own life unfold on a TV screen. You can barely concentrate on what others are saying to you because you are just trying to absorb the tears that are swelling up in your eyes. You know that if the tear falls onto your cheek, it will give you permission to let the floodgates pour.

That is what it was like for me as my very own drama aired two times and both incidents happened to be from a doctor's office.

The first scene I watched was of my darling husband, Fred. He was sitting in a pre-op room with his blue bonnet, booties and hospital gown. His eyes looked at me like a scared little boy as the IV cord dangled from his strong forearm. I tried to listen and not fall apart as the nurse had him sign all sorts of paperwork basically starting with, "In case something should happen..."

I couldn't imagine something happening to my husband. From the 15 years we have been together, he has practically never even been sick! I on the other hand, get sick each month with PMS and also am plagued with migraines periodically, not to mention my inability to manage stress appropriately so I physically can feel every bump in the road on my life's journey. Oh, and I occasionally am a hypercondriac too! Most of the time when I am starting to feel a little edgy, my husband is helpful. He takes care of the kids and gives me my space. He also encourages me to take the time for self care so that I don't get too uptight emotionally and physically. Yes, my husband is a pretty great blue ribbon guy. There are times when I feel guilty leaving him with the kids to get bathed and ready for bed while I go out for a jog or a walk with a friend. But then he gives me unlimited stack of "Get Out of Guilt-Free Cards" and let's me go on my own way. He understands how I tick and I am so grateful for him.

To sit in the visitor seat and watch my strong husband have to be the patient was so difficult for me. I wanted to be strong, stable and spoil him into recovery as soon as his urological surgery was finished. And, within a couple of hours, he was ready for me to pull the car around as the nurse helped him walk to the passenger seat. He was holding two bags, one with his extra clothes that I sent along with him and another bag for his catheter that he would become very close with for the next few days.

Although he was on some 'mechanical-strength' pain killer, he was extra sensitive to every bump on the very long drive home. About two hours and 2,000 bumps later we arrived home, he went straight up to bed. He slept for about four days. I would prepare his meals and take them on a silver tray up to him in bed. I would also make sure I was there with him as he'd stumble to the bathroom to empty his bag filled with yellow liquid. Along with playing nurse, I knew that one of his "love languages" was the act of doing things for him. And, I knew that he appreciated a tidy house so I tried my hardest to keep the house in order.

The more I tried to stay on top of the cleaning, the cooking the serving, the more impatient I grew. I admittedly was enjoying caring for him and the house and family but I was so used to Fred taking care of a lot of the chores like the garbage and sharing with the laundry and dishes and cooking. To not have him around was like having one of my arms cut off. As hard as I tried to keep it all together, my nerves were frazzled like Bob Marley's dreadlocks in an electric socket. I couldn't control my temper!

So, how do other wives handle this stress? I was out of control. All I could do is yell and scream at everyone around me. I am so ashamed on how I lashed out on everyone. I had no time for reprieve. I was lacking in sleep and self care and my darling husband and two sweet daughters who are also high maintenance got the best of me by 7:00 a.m. and after that, they all got the worst of me each day for four days.

Who did I become? Where was the person I wanted to be? I didn't sign up for this trashy unraveled tantrum tizzy I had turned into. I was starting to think I was more like my bipolar mother. The more I would try to control and manage my stress, the more stressed out I would get and lash out. I also realized that my daughter Sienna, who is also diagnosed with bipolar along with ADHD and PDD-NOS struggles with similar inter-personal conflict herself. It is times like these when I can better understand her. I always tell her, "You have choices to make Sienna. You can choose to throw those fits and deal with the consequences, or you can walk away, count to ten, do something that will help you relax... BLAH BLAH BLAH."

If someone were to confront ME during these past four days and lecture me like that. I would have told them to go away and COUNT MY FRICKIN ACE! (my frickin ace is a fancy word for my gosh darn behind!) And I would have probably growled at them or thrown something at them. Who knows? No one would have dared lectured me this past week. I was like a shark who just sensed blood and was ready to attack, like Bruce the Great White shark in Finding Nemo. He really wanted to overcome his addiction to eating fish but he just couldn't help being who he was. Interesting discovery... hmmm.... (I just realized this discovery through my blog writing. This helps me to accept my daughter more and more! I struggle with this sometimes. I want to change her make her conform too much of the time.)

Today is Monday. My husband is finally on his feet and back to work. He still has the catheter in but I think I am feeling a little more myself and less Nurse Cratchett.

Throughout all of this chaos, my toddler daughter has been getting over a flu with lots of green river snot to wipe and dirty diarrhea diapers to change. Good times.

The other out of body experience that I discovered as the drama unfolded in the doctor's office was about my six year old daughter. I will share in tomorrow's post...

Friday, October 3, 2008

From Shmack to Love Sprinkles. All in a Day's Work.

It was one of those crazy days, the house stunk worse than a skunk from the pile of 100s maybe even 1000s of diarrhea diapers that I had just tossed carelessly into the kitchen trash. Yes, that is nasty. And, I don't normally put the poo diapers in the kitchen trash, like I said, my day was crazy!

That isn't as nasty as the one dirty diaper that I left on the carpet near the front door right before I got interrupted by UPS man, the FedEx Man and the Culligan Man (I have a bad habit of exaggerating, sorry!) and random telephone calls throughout the day. That diaper on the floor had once been Velcro'd up nice and tightly like a ravioli, so easy to have forgotten about. Until, I came downstairs, or was it upstairs? Not sure, it was that kind of day, like I said.

That diaper somehow enticed my pug, Clio to have a party with it. Don't know if my nasty dog was trying to dig the small apple pieces for a crap snack attack or what, but between the diaper and the pug, I would say the diaper won. The diaper was spread from one corner to the other in our 15 foot long front room. There were shmack smudges and crap crumbs sprinkled throughout the room like ticker tape from the RNC/DNC convention. (Shmack, that is a fancy word for sh#^*bleep!)

Before I knew what had happened fully, I felt the shmack on my barefoot as I tried skirting across the room. I yelled some sort of profanity and actually kicked the dog. I felt a little evil about it but a short breath of release too. Please don't think I am a dog hater or abuser, I am just claiming that it was the shmackiest days since becoming a SAHM bar none!!!

Then, fast forward the scene way past me scrubbing, vacuuming, cleaning the carpet - and my foot. And taking out the stanky kitchen garbage - and the dog. Que up to very minute when my husband is home, the family has just washed their hands for supper and I can hear the clink of the bottle caps from our chilled Heinekens falling into the recyclable bin. As I bring dinner over to the table, my husband says:

Fred: Look, there is a rainbow in our back yard.

ALL: Oh? Ahhh. Oooo. Wow.

Blink of an eye, it disappeared.

Toddler Daughter, sadly says: It all gone?

6 Year Old Daughter, says with hope in her eyes: Yes, but look, it left its LOVE SPRINKLES!

(Love Sprinkles? Is that darling or what?)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

God Put a Song in My Heart for My Children

When I was pregnant with Sienna, I can remember a song would come up in my head all the time. "Trust in the Lord," or "Proverbs 3" was a song that Six Pence None the Richer released around the time I had first started to call myself a Christian. Several years later, it was a song that started to play in my heart and mind whenever I was nervous or anxious about my pregnancy. That was an important song to me at the time because I was eight months pregnant, working from my office on the 73rd floor of the Sears Tower during 9/11.

"Trust in the Lord, with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him and He will carry you through. Lord, sometimes it gets so tough to keep my eyes on you when things are going rough. But then I lift my eyes up to the skies and I hear your voice. It says to me: Trust in the Lord, with all of your heart..."
This was the same melody my soul clanged onto during the 28 hours of labor and it was the truth I was reminded of when Sienna was taken into NICU right after delivery when the cord was wrapped around her neck and she turned blue. We didn't get to see her for several hours following delivery and we had no idea what was going on.

This is also the song that keeps ringing in my soul throughout the past six years raising a daughter on the autism spectrum with all of her unpredictable mood swings and other special needs. There are many moments that I have no idea how to parent her correctly. I don't know how to soothe her like she needs because she won't allow me to touch her, hold her, hug her or rock her to sleep. "He will carry you through..."

Since school has started earlier this fall, I have seen her stress levels sky rocket and today was one of her most stressful home-from-school-tantrums I have seen! From 3:00 until bed time, her moods were more unpredictable than the DOW Jones. She growled at me throughout the evening, scratched her sister in the bath tub and cried caustically as she banged her head on the wall or slapped herself in the face.

Miraculously, I was able to get the both girls down to bed. As I was tucking Sarah in, I sang to her the love song that God put in my heart for her ever since she was in the womb. That song is from Psalm 51 and it is a hymnal called, "Create in Me a Clean Heart." She is only two years old so I am not really sure why that song was selected for Sarah but I do know that God has branded that one on my heart just for her.

I then ventured to Sienna's bedroom. I knelt at her bed side. I softly touched her forehead and caressed her bangs ever so gently. I whispered, "Have I ever told you about the song God put in my heart when he created you?" She looked so sad but at this very moment, sighed a breath of redemption and held her tears back. I explained how much the song had helped me when I was scared or anxious or stressed when I was pregnant, "Whenever things get rough or tough, I pray this song in my heart and soul." I sang it to her and she smiled at me, softly and peacefully. We connected, both with one another and together with God.