Silent Screams (and other odd sounds)

This is what I'm thinking RIGHT NOW. It may not be what I'm thinking tomorrow.


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Hats Off to the Working Mom

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I entered the work force long before my children were born and stayed in the work force long after they were born.  I have worked weekends, holidays and birthdays.  I could be found at work caring for other people’s children while my mother watched my sick children at home.  I have worked the grave yard shift so I could attend all those “special” school events.  I have gone hours upon hours without sleep so I could attend a softball game or a band concert.  I caught a few hours of sleep here and there on the fly so I could be “in attendance” in my child’s life.  I have been criticized for being a working mother and I’ve been told that my child’s life would suffer because I chose to go to work.  I’ve been told that a “good” mother sacrifices her needs and wants to stay at home with her child

Hmm.  I struggled with the guilt of being a working mother for years and years.  I felt guilty when I couldn’t attend the Parent Teacher Organization meetings and I felt less than a “good mother” when I couldn’t be a Home Room Mother for my child. I felt the pang of guilt when I had to decline from being a chaperone for field trips and I felt a little “different” when I attended school functions dressed in my scrubs while some of the other mothers looked as if they were going to a high-class restaurant.  When I look back on my appearance, I saw me without make-up, my hair a little messy, and my work shoes costing more than than the stiletto hills of my peers (but looking far less classy), and my fingernail short and not painted.  I saw the other mothers as beautiful models who wore designer clothes, fine perfume and well manicured toes.  Yes, my perception was skewed.  I just didn’t see it that way back then.  I was programmed to believe that mothers stayed at home and catered to their children.

Although I was a horrible mother for working during my children’s formative years, I was also a “fool” for carting them and their friends to and from school functions, softball games, soccer games, athletic practice, school dances and chaperoned parties.  My peers who stayed at home to care for their children did not seem to have time to drive their children to and fro to various activities.  It seemed that the schedules of the parents who did not work seemed to have multiple conflicts with their children’s activities.

Although being a taxi for my children was inconvenient at times, I was more than glad to do it.  I always (to my knowledge at least) knew where my children were and what they were doing. I learned that being the taxi driver to a bunch of children allowed me to fall into the background which allowed the children to say more than they normally would have if they remembered I was driving.  Out of guilt, and out of love, I wanted to do what I could for my child to be a part of their life.

My children are now adults and I have had the time to reflect on the damage I have done to myself and my children.  First I will address the damage I have done to myself.  In feeling guilty about my career, I conceded that I was a bad mother.  Looking back, I was not the type of mother who actually wanted or would have liked to be a Room Mother.  I preferred to interact with children on my terms not the terms of others.  This interaction was more beneficial to all involved.  It made me happy and I hope, it made them happy as well.  How did my working adversely affect my children.  I’ve thought and thought about that question.  Being a working mother made my children more independent and enabled them to make decisions on their own. Yes, they made poor decisions at times; but those poor decisions enabled them to learn and make better decisions in the future.  To be honest, I can’t see where my working harmed them; in fact it molded them into adults that could trouble shoot and make good decisions.

I have often asked myself, “Why did you work when your children were young?”  That answer is easy.  I needed to work.  I didn’t have the luxury to be a stay at home mother.  My children needed food and clothing which would have been sparse if I stayed at home.  Working enabled my children to participate in activities they would have not been able to participate in had I been a stay at home mother.  Working enabled my children to pursue activities which they may not have been able to participate.

In a perfect world, I probably would have been a stay at home mother because that is what society thinks I should have done to be able to label myself as a good mother and role model.  Now that I am older and I have the luxury to look back on my life I don’t need labels. I can honestly say that I was and am a good role model BECAUSE I was a working mother.  Working enabled my children to grow into productive citizens who value others as much as themselves.

Each mother needs to do what is right for them.  Each mother needs to search inside of themselves and ask the question, “Am I doing the best I can with what I have?”

Working mothers juggle life.  My hat goes off to those mothers who work endlessly at juggling being in the work force and managing a home.  Loving the child…..that’s the easy part.  Don’t feel guilty.  Know that what you do is as close to being a super hero as you can get.


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Love in the Driver’s Seat

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My husband and I took our children out to dinner this evening.  It was such a wonderful experience.  There are few things that can fill your heart with joy and love more than watching your children laugh and experience the complete joy that being a part of a family can bring.  I don’t know if I was being nostalgic or what, but the experience of merely eating dinner with my family nearly brought me to tears.  I loved watching the interchange of loving conversation between my daughters.  Tonight, even “touchy subjects” didn’t bring angry words but a compromise of being at peace in the moment with each other.

After dinner, my husband and I drove home in relative silence.  Our silence was not from anger but of perfect contentment of being comfortable with each other.  The wordless conversation between us was born of the realization that we did not have to entertain each other with meaningless chatter; we knew instinctively that the silent conversation was the utter ease that we felt with each other.

As my husband drove home, I looked at him in utter awe.  Sitting beside me was a man who loves me despite all my imperfections.  In fact, a little piece of me thought that he might actually like those flaws in my character that make me uniquely me.  My heart swelled with gratitude that God sent this man to me.  God chose this man for me.  He chose him specifically for me.  Wow!

As I sat beside my husband and gazed at him, I thought about his multitude of loving attributes.  He is kind, considerate, compassionate, loving, caring, giving, and so many other things.  The list is endless.  He caters to me endlessly and thinks nothing of going that extra mile to make me happy.  He hurts when I hurt, he laughs when I laugh, and he loves God.

Watching his face as he drove, I thought, “What did I do that was so good that God gave this wonderful man as a present to me?”  What possible good could I have done to have such a gift bestowed upon me.  I am certain that what my husband does for me is greater than anything I do for him. 

My thoughts turned to his relationship with our children.  He is the perfect father.  In fact I have told my children that when it is time to pick a mate, they should let the way their father treats me be their guide; if they do so, they will not go wrong.

Does my husband have anything that he does that irritates me?  Of course he does; but those same things that irritate me are also the same things that make me smile when I think about them.  Those irritating flaws in his character are the same characteristics that makes him endearing to me.  Those “irritants” may just be the same things that I will miss if he should happen to go away. 

My heart swelled with pride and love as I just gazed at the side of my husband’s face.  I am truly blessed just to be a part of his life. 


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What To Do About Today’s Youth

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As I pass my mid-50’s the words “What is happening to the youth of today?” echos in my mind as words so many “older” people said way back when I was young.  I thought the words were meant to be demeaning to the youth of then but now I am not so sure.  I hear myself saying those words today, but I say those words out of concern and fear of what is happening to the youth of today and what will be happening to our youth in the future.

As I look back upon my youth, I remember it being pretty simple.  I wasn’t concerned with designer clothes, purses or shoes.  I lived simply and so did the majority of children with which I went to school.  There weren’t an abundant amount of local malls to hang out in with my friends and I didn’t have “older” friends who could drive me around town.  We didn’t have beepers, smart phones or computers.  The World Wide Web hadn’t infiltrated my daily activities and I got dirty playing tag football with the neighbors.  Life was good.  I was fortunate.

Years later, when I became a mother, things were a little different.  Most mothers worked outside of the home as did I.  Things changed from working for “need” to working for “want” but we deceived ourselves in thinking that those “wants” were needs” and I include myself in that category.  After awhile, all those “wants” did become “needs” in the eyes of our children and we became helpless to turn back the hands of time. For many parents, perhaps we did this out of a sense of guilt that both parents worked outside of the home and the “traditional” home of our youth was altered.  Lovingly, we gave our children our money because our time was too scarce. In confusing wants and needs, could we, as parents, have raised a nation of children who lived in an time of instant gratification which was and will be unable to be fulfilled in their future?

Parents my age, for the first time in history, will probably have a greater income than their children will obtain.  Many children have moved into the same house they grew up in with their parents, bringing with them their children as well.  The grandparents, who are making more money than their children, are oftentimes supporting not only their children and spouse, but their children’s children as well.  Five year old grandchildren, living with grandma and grandpa, have televisions and X-boxes in their room, bought by the grandparents. In many elementary schools, it would not be uncommon to see a 7 year old girl dressed in the most fashionable shoes with lights that flash or carrying a book bag with the Vera Bradley brand.  If the income of the our 25-30 year old parents are less than their parents how can this be?  Could it be that Grandma is buying the clothes?  Could it be that Grandpa is supporting the extended family? 

So, where is all of this mumble jumble going?  It brings me back to my fear and concern for the youth of today.  What happens when our generation becomes too old to support our children and our grandchildren?  What happens when the expectations of our children will be unable to be met?  By giving our children their wants instantly, how much did we help them?  By giving our grandchildren the best of things, how will that color their future?  When a generation has lived in abundance not created by their own hands that abundance is oftentimes not appreciated but it becomes an expectation – something deserved. 

I believe that each of us, as parents, did the best we could with what we knew.  Each of us did what we thought was the best for our children and we did it with love.  I have two daughters.  As with all things hindsight is 20/20 and I know I have made mistakes in raising my daughters.  I have done some good things as well.  I do not have grandchildren but I don’t have to have them to see that so many grandparents are doing to their grandchildren what they did to their children – giving them all they can whether they need it or not.

I was fortunate.  My children didn’t ask for much growing up.  They were not tempted by everything new and glitzy.  Since my children did not ask for much, when they did they generally got it.  Perhaps they didn’t get it that day, or that week, but more than likely they got it.  I say I am fortunate because I could easily have fallen into the “give them all they want” syndrome.  I am not immune to loving my children monetarily.

I love the youth of today.  I just hope they can survive our parenting.


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From Christmas to Giftmas

I wish, for once, I could accurately articulate the multitude of reasons that I wish Christmas and the entire Holiday season would pass from my eyes unnoticed.  Christmas is not a joyous time for me.  It can be a time of pain and sorrow as we remember what once was and what will never be again.  Many suicides are attempted at this joyous time of year and that mere thought makes me sad knowing that those who attempted to die feel they had absolutely no one they could have reached out to to give them one moment of comfort that could have lead them into a new year and possibly a new hope.  My heart breaks for them, and for their families who have now lost a loved one.  The hurt breaks both ways.

For me the “Holiday Season” begins right before Thanksgiving and ends shortly after the New Year.   Yes, I say, “Happy Holidays” but it is not to take Christmas out of the season, it is to include Thanksgiving and New Years into their rightful places in the festivities.  I do say “Merry Christmas” on Christmas Day, and I say Happy Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day and I say Happy New Year on New Year Day, so why do so many people want to correct me?  I am wishing all people a festive holiday SEASON, not just happiness on one particular day.

Christmas has changed over the years for me.  Perhaps it is because I’ve grown up; perhaps it is because I haven’t grown up at ll.  For me, the anticipation of Christmas was never the shinny gifts under the Christmas tree or the brightly wrapped packages; it was the smell, hustle, and bustle of Christmas – said simply – it was the electric energy that traveled through every person – pure excitement.  I would wake up early on Christmas Eve and my mother would already be slaving over a hot stove making pies and cakes and all sorts of “Christmas” goodies that we, as children, had grown accustomed to.  “Merry Christmas Eve,” I’d excitedly shout out to her and she’d return my salutation with a big kiss on the cheek.

About noon, Christmas Eve guest would begin to trickle in.  Some were relatives, some were friends, and some just wanted to give us a few of their cookies they had baked to thank my mom for all she has done for them throughout the year.  Some stayed a short time, some stayed a little while, and some stayed until the Christmas Eve festivities began.  As my mother spoke to her guests, she’s pop out a couple of pumpkin pies here and some apple pies there, along with her Philadelphia Cream Cheese Pies that have never been completely duplicated to this day.  It was all good to her and the more people that dropped by, the more festive she became.  My mother was the center of Christmas.  She knew how to get things done AND enjoy all the holiday had to offer.  I never learned that from her; I wish I had listened or watched more closely.

When the official start of Christmas Eve started, the feast of the 7 fish commencement……and stunk.  My aunts and uncles from all over would congregate at my house to begin the eating of the fish.  Yuck!  I stuck with tuna fish which for me was the least of all the evils; but as I grew up, I came to realize that shrimp and and crab weren’t too bad either.  Christmases of past were special, they embodied all of what Christmas should be.  They did not have the “what did you get me for Christmas” present attitude.  Christmas was about helping, having, loving, and being with those you cared about.

Christmas is gone.  It is now merely Giftmas.  Giftmas says, “How much am I going to get from you for Christmas and are you going to like it?”  Giftmas says, “How close to the time can I get to your house before it’s actually time to eat so I don’t have to help you set the table or put out the food”  The real sad thing about Giftmas is….”How long can I stay away from those I love or profess to love so I don’t have to feel the true meaning of Christmas.?”  It is just so much easier to thank someone for a gift.


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A Heart Still Broken

It has been 3 months and 8 days since my baby girl Faith left me for another world and it has been 1 month and 8 days since my Red King Rory left me to be at her side.

On good days I see them playing together in an open field.  Faith is running with her hair flying around her and the Red King is at her heels protecting her from all sorts of harm.  After a little while, they stop under a big oak tree and Rory stretches out his long body while Faith curls up near his nose, her body almost as big as his head.  They momentarily look at each other and then close their eyes.  My eyes strain not to close just so I can envision them longer, but soon the vision fades and the realization that they have both entered a grander plane floods me.  I should be happy for them but I have to shamefully admit that my heart remains broken.  It seems I can not fully adjust.

Faith’s death was painful but understood.  She had been ill for quite some time and when her final end came, it was not unexpected.  I was able to mourn her loss but still understand that she was made whole after her death.  Rory’s death was untimely, unexpected and much more painful.  He was playing in the yard, collapsed and was gone within seconds.  I didn’t have a chance to hold him like I held Faith during her last few minutes of life with me.  I was not able to sing to him the song I sang to Faith as I rocked her in my arms when she took her last breath.  I was only able to hold Rory close to me after he died and kiss his nose as I so often kissed it when he slept; but this time I knew he would never wake.  I cried out to God, but he wanted Rory for himself or he knew what Rory’s destiny would be if he had not died that day.

After reading all I could about how to “get over” the death of a pet, I took some advice and two weeks after the death of Rory, I bought a puppy.  Wyatt, is the new addition to my house.  He is the same breed as Rory but I have to sadly admit that I do not feel for him what I felt for Rory.  Right now, when I look at Wyatt, I see a beautiful Doberman Pinscher puppy that is so eager to please and be playful; but there are times when I look at him, all I feel a deep feeling of  loss for the companionship that Rory gave to me. If the truth be told, today, I would trade this little eager puppy for one more day with my Red King.

I did what was suggested and bought a puppy; not to replace Rory but to help heal myself from the pain.  I should have waited.  I pray that someday I will be able to give Wyatt the love he so richly deserves.

Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…


 


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In a Heartbeat – Man’s Best Friend

When my oldest daughter finished her residency and was able to devote time to a pet, we started to search for the “perfect” pet for her.  Since she was going to live alone, she decided a dog that would afford some protection would be a good idea.  Since I had owned a Doberman Pinscher previously, I suggested that perhaps that type of dog would be a good one to consider.  I knew Doberman’s to be protective as well as loving.  They are often called “velcro” dogs because they tend to stick to the owner like glue.  My daughter said she’d consider one but wanted to see a few first.

We went to a reputable breeder who breeds Doberman’s not for profit but for the love of the breed.  On the premises were 6 adult Dobermans:  2 black, 2 red, 1 blue, and 1 fawn.  All of the dogs ran freely on her property so it wasn’t surprising that they all met us as we pulled in to the driveway.  They barked briefly to alert the owner of the property to our presence but then stood and looked at us warily.  It wasn’t until the owner came out of the house that we made the first move to get out of the car upon the owner’s assurance that the beasts before us would cause us no harm.

The breeder took us into the house where a massive black Doberman met us at the door, sniffed and then turned away.  In a large box in the corner of the room was a red Dobergirl guarding her Doberpuppies.  The breeder quickly let the Doberpuppies loose in the  house but kept the Dobermom in the corner.  As the breeder explained to my daughter exactly what Dobermans are like as a pet, one of the puppies came and sat near my feet.  He had the biggest paws I had ever seen on a Doberman and his legs were lanky and clumsy.  As the other Doberpuppies tried to gather at my feet to see what this visitor was all about, the Doberpuppy with the big paws kept every other puppy at bay.  He would not let any other puppy near me.  The breeder joked about him not letting me go home without him and I just laughed knowing that I didn’t need a big goofy Doberman to chase my two small Yorkies into a frenzy.

Since my daughter didn’t want a puppy for a few months, we looked at the Dobergirl who was due in about 5 months.  She had been breeded to the massive Doberman who met us at the door – so had the goofy, big pawed- red dog that wouldn’t let any other Doberpuppy near me.  We left that day with a lot of information.  My daughter left with the breeders phone number and the due date of the Dobergirl about to give birth.  I left with the goofy red dog who would later look like this:

My husband was not a happy camper when I brought Rory home.  He complained that he cost too much, he was too big for the Yorkies, and he would eat us out of house and home.  He was right, I was wrong.  Rory stayed and moved into our hearts.

As with most Dobermans, Rory quickly became the classic “velcro” dog.  He followed whoever was being the most active at the time.  He especially watched closely his blue ball, which became his constant appendage.  He never went anywhere without it.  He even slept with it.  A trait so endearing, that we couldn’t help but make sure he had two or three blue balls all the time, just in case one met with an untimely demise.

Soon, Rory took over my husband’s heart and the two developed a routine.  The routine was:  What Rory wants, Rory gets.  Rory waited patiently for my husband to get home from work, but the minute he walked into the house Rory would grab his blue ball and demand that my husband play with him.  Of course, my husband would call him a big red ass or say some other un-flattering name but Rory was persistent.  If he didn’t get the attention he wanted right then, he would thump my husband in the leg with his blue ball.  The exchange was a ritual and fun to watch.  Rory demanded attention.  He felt he had to the be center of our world because, after all, we were the center of his.

In a heartbeat, the attachment occurs:  the love between a dog and his master.  If the truth be told, I am unsure in a human/canine relationship who exactly the master is.  I’m pretty sure it is not the human.  Rory was the master of us all.  He played us like a finely tuned violin.  Rory pouted if he didn’t get his way, whined if you didn’t pay attention to him, caused mischief with the Yorkies at times and was the best friend a person could have.  He was more than canine, he was more than human, he was …Rory – The Red King.  Rory was a part of the family and lived in our every heartbeat.

After a long day, Rory felt it was his right to stretch out on the sofa and relax after a long tedious day of playing and protecting the homestead.  Of course, his blue ball was always close at hand.  At 120 lbs, Rory still thought he was a lap dog.  If able, he would cuddle up as close as possible as if to warm his body with ours.  An annoying, but endearing quality all at the same time.

Yesterday, while running and playing outside; something he loved to do, Rory left us in a heartbeat.  He was running and playing and then all of a sudden he looked up, collapsed and his spirit soared into the universe.  He left my world to enter another dimension.

Red Dog had a good life.  Red Dog had a happy life. Red Dog had a short 4 1/2 year life.  Red Dog will be remembered by me always.  I miss him more than words can say.

I love you Red Dog, Red King, Red Drooley…….  I love you Rory.


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A Different Kind of Father’s Day

Today is Father’s Day.  I’m pretty sure that there will be 10,258,265 blogs today that at least mention Father’s Day.  I’m also pretty sure that about 1 out of 3 families who have a living father will have a picnic or some other get together to celebrate Father’s Day.  I will be among the 33% of families who will celebrate with a picnic.

Today, as I was preparing food for the picnic my mind drifted back in time to when my daughters were 6 and 3.  I was sitting on a park bench at the softball fields watching my oldest daughter practice and my youngest daughter play with the other children in the dirt pile.  Halfway through the softball practice my husband arrives at the park and immediately my youngest daughter runs up to him gleefully calling, “Daddy, Daddy.”  In my mind’s eye he picked her up and twirled her around, but in reality I think he just picked her up to kiss her.  

Shortly after my husband’s arrival my oldest daughter runs in from the field to the park bench where I was sitting.  Nearly in tears she blurts out that the girl she was standing next to in the field told her that her sister and her could not have the same daddy and that one of them had a different dad.  My eldest daughter’s dark brown eyes were as big as saucers as she demanded to know, “Whose daddy is he?”

Since I really didn’t have a clue what the two children talked about in the field I was more than a little confused.  My oldest daughter’s heart was breaking before my eyes before I realized that she thought the man who she had called “daddy” over the last six years might not be her father.  After understanding her fear, I reassured her that the person she knew as “daddy” was indeed her father.  Slowly I saw the heartbreak leave her eyes and for a moment the air was light again.  Her head tilted to one side letting me know the wheels of her mind were spinning.  “Then who is my sister’s daddy?”  Once again I was lost.  What the heck was she talking about?  I could feel the tension mounting in her body once again as she wondered about her little sister’s paternity.  

Not having a clue what craziness had entered my daughter’s little head, I clasped her hand in mine and we went for a little walk to the end of the softball field so we could be alone.  We sat on the grass and I asked her to explain what in the world she was talking about.  There, at the edge of the softball field she explained to me that the little girl in the field had 6 brothers and sisters and they all had different dads.  The little girl explained to my daughter that kids could have the same mommy but they couldn’t have the same daddy.  

I sat for a brief moment not knowing what to say.  My daughter’s eyes were burrowing into mine waiting for a reply.  All I could do was hug her and re-assure her that her and her sister did share the same father.  Briefly, in a fleeting manor, I also explained that some children can have different fathers and different mothers but that didn’t mean that the person who lived with them didn’t love them just the same.  

I suppose she was happy with my answer because she smiled as she got up from the ground to join her friends at practice.  I watched as she ran to meet up with her friends.  My eyes first focused on my daughter and then on the little girl who told my daughter “her” facts of life.  

I think of that little girl often.  I wonder how her life is and has been.  I also wonder why I thought of her today on Father’s Day.