Thursday, December 17, 2009

Word Confusion

One afternoon, after a very tiring day from work, I arrived at daycare to pick up one said 3 year old blue eyed kid. Daycare was exactly 2 1/2 blocks from home. Seat belt laws were not in effect just yet so don't panic. He rode in the back seat of my luxury sedan, jumping up and down on the floor board and really chatty. Not something I was fond of. It was a Wednesday, 2 days before payday.

He declared, "mommy, lets go to McDonalds." I said "no". He cried. As a parent you know all that entails the simple word NO. Anyway, like any good parent would do, 1/2 block away from home, I pulled over into the first available parking spot, turned around and said, "what the heck are you crying for, we'll go to McDonalds on Friday." He looked up at me with those big crocodile tears rolling down his cheeks, his eyelashes were wet and looked so said and said "I don't want my mommy broke I want her fixed."

That's the end of the post.

Wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas. May the New Year unfold with only the best memories and life. May God richly bless you and your families - Numbers 6:24-26.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Time

As an empty nester, I dwell on all those memories from Christmas' past. YEA for memories, it beats the heck at of living it all over again.

My adorable blonde kid had his own unique flare to the yuletide season. Actually, it was more of a torture for a single mom on a budget. I had a friend, well, we are still friends, would start calling me 2 weeks before Christmas to find out the lastest "tradition". My friends thought it was just too cute. It was more on the lines of extreme torture.

Taking a stroll: (this is how our tradition which developed into traditions started)

It all started a day before Christmas Eve. He was somewhere between 3 and 4. He decided that Santa needed a Christmas gift, all wrapped up with a "pretty" bow, in "pretty" paper with a name tag that said "to: santa from:us". Yes, this is the truth. My son would let me know if Santa was to wrap presents or just leave them unwrapped under the tree with or without nametags. I specialize in "pretty" bows, no packaged bows at my house. I love the Christmas Season and make every single effort to make it special. So, that Christmas, on a very tight budget, agreed to this. We will just paint Santa a painting, wrap the darn thing up and put it under the tree. My kid agreed, it would indeed be a very special gift. We wrapped it and his, my son's, instructions were "make it where he can see it." It had the esteem spot of center stage under the tree. The only draw back to that was, I had to remember to remove the present on Christmas Eve night. Well I forgot that first Christmas, but, somehow managed to slide it under the couch without hawk eye seeing then put it in a closet where I found it 2 years later.

Then the next Christmas he decided the reindeer needed something as well. He has been exposed to way too many horses and farm animals. He requested hay and a bucket of water just in case they were thirsty and hungry. I explained to the blonde headed monster that I adorned and cherished that I didn't really know the dietary habits of reindeer, so we had better just leave a bucket of water. I told him the hay may make the reindeer ill and he, along with other children would not receive toys because the reindeer would have to go back to the North Pole due to illness. He agreed. HENCE, a bucket of water sat out at the front door. The problem, yeah you guessed it probably, I had to remember to dump the bucket and make it look like they enjoyed it.

So, lets recap, we have the traditional cookies and milk, a gift all wrapped up pretty with a name tag and a bucket of water for the reindeer.

Then the next Christmas he asked, "Momma, why doesn't Santa bring my momma any presents?". I gathered together my thought process and explained, "Santa doesn't come to parents.". He asked, "Why", the whys went on for a while. Finally I said, "Well, maybe it's because your momma may not have been good." I really thought I nailed that one. His thought process kicked in, he turned those big blue eyes up to me and said, "well then, if Santa doesn't bring my momma any gifts (notice the plural), then I don't want any." So that meant one thing, go buy "my momma" some Santa stuff. He also requested somewhere in that conversation, they all had to be wrapped in pretty bows, paper and name tags.

Now we have, the traditional cookies and milk, a gift for Santa, a bucket of water for the reindeer and presents for "my momma" from Santa.

That is how our tradition, well, became our tradition.

Now you know the sordid background.

Cookies were baked and passed out to all my neighbors. If I didn't bring them cookies, they knocked on my door wanting to know where the heck were their Christmas cookies.

Now comes Christmas Eve. Because I didn't grow up in a Christian home, I was more than determined to raise my son in one. We would dress up in our Christmas best, yes, I forced him to put on a cute little suit complete with snap on neck tie or snap on bow tie, whatever my mood was that year, we would dash off to our Christmas Eve Candlight Service, go tour the Christmas lights around the neighbor, come back home and I would read the REAL and true Christmas story followed by the Santa story. We always had a cupcake with a candle and sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Then we would take all the family Christmas presents from under the tree and my son would dictate where each one should be placed on the couch to make way for Santa's stuff. The traditional Santa cookies and milk would be placed in their proper spot right in the middle of the coffee table, Santa's gift was put right in front of the tree and a bucket of water placed right by the front door so they (the reindeer) could see it. Then the Christmas Carols would be sung. I would convince him he could not sleep anywhere by the tree. NO, he could not see Santa, and NO, he could not watch the reindeer drink their water.

We would curl up in bed, prayers being said, and I would silently pray that I would not fall asleep so I could be Santa. I would sneek out of bed, very quietly go downstairs and the fun began. First and foremost, I left notes to myself on where all the toys were hidden. Several years, I would find stuff throughout the year. I made sure toys were assembled, batteries all worked and you know how it goes. That should have enough right? WRONG! Not with my kid. I had to make sure it looked like Santa ate the cookies (crumbs had to be left on the plate - I promise this was from previous Christmas' past), drank the milk, remove the Santa present, go outside and dump the Reindeer's water bucket and then, leave a thank you to my son from Santa for the gift, the water for the reindeer and for the milk and cookies (you probably guess it - from previous Christmas experiences). The kid really expected it.

Christmas morning he would find my present from Santa and walk it over to me and say "you first my momma". So I had to open it and act as surprised as I could, then after he carefully inspected it, after all it had to meet my kid's approval, he would start his Christmas.

His presents were always wrapped, well when requested, with some sort of cartoon stuff. Mine, we'll I sort of got into the spirit, wrapped in foil with glitter and all that stuff.

This is really the way it was at my house. He still calls me "my momma".

My advice, write down all these precious memories. I've had 7,665 days since all that happened. Memories can be taken away from other factors in this thing we call life. There is a lot of living that goes on between the minute the child is born and the time they decide to be grown ups and start their own lives.

Everything a child does is priceless. It may not seem like it at the time but it is. Write it down, so 20, 30 or more years down the lane, you can open that notebook and let that smile come across your face as your memory has been jogged. It's enjoyable many years down the road. Now I see the humor in it all.

Enjoy every single moment, ignore the bad, get thru the trying and enjoy those precious children.

Do I suffer Empty Nest Syndrome, my answer "HELL NO", I'm now enjoying my life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Background Story

For all of you with little children, this is for you.

All my friends have told me, at one time or another, that the "empty nest" syndrome would hit when my one and only child, of the male variety, would leave home.

A little background story on my one and only. I was not suppose to be able to have a baby. He is classified as a "miracle". However, all children are miracles, let's not lose sight of that. Some however, make you doubt. My son was one.

Okay, back to the story. For years I allowed myself to dream about when and if that day would come. I wondered if I really would miss that child of mine. There were times when I didn't think he would ever grown up and leave, after all, when he was the ripe old age of 3 years old, he proudly announced to me on one beautiful sunny day (we were sitting outside on a picnic in our back yard), "I'm gonna marry you mom". Yeah, this was cute and made me very proud and I have to admit, it brought that wet stuff to my eyes. However, it sent me off into a panic mode, suppose this child never leaves home! Just suppose. Well, that precious white cotton blonde hair baby boy with the killer sky blue eyes is now 26 years old, engaged to someone other than his mother. His address is different than mine, even a different zip code.

I raised this child as a single parent. He was 6 months old when I left his father and began a new life with just the two of us. His father chose not to have any dealings with him. We will save my son's father for another post. For the first 12 years of my son's life, it was just that, he and I and the world of the unexplored and unexplained.

Times were difficult. He was a sick kid. He could only eat 12 items (fast food was not on his list), could only wear 100% cotton washed in Woolite and rinsed twice - NEVER EVER use a fabric softener. His list went on and on of the don'ts. His doctors, nurses and all the staff that worked in his doctor's offices, knew him by his first name, mine too. There were times I didn't think he would live. No kid that sick could live to maturity. There were times that I didn't think I would live to see him mature. I had no sleep, forgot how to eat, forgot how to dress and forgot how to communicate with the real world eliminating all the medical terminology that I became so proficient at using. Hell, I even understood all that medical lingo. My life was working and taking care of a sick baby boy that I loved more than I could understand.

Every birthday he had, I thanked the Lord for the year and prayed to get me thru just one more. I personally didn't have the strength to make it on my own nor did I think I could make it. There were more test of faith that I can even remember (praise GOD for that).

There were endless nights of holding him, crying along with him, rocking in that rocking chair that I just pitched out a year ago, singing and gently talking to him, they call it comforting, that only a mother, and maybe a father, can do.

The night I thought I heard him cry, but really wasn't sure because I had only had one hour of sleep, I went into his room, as all parents do - just to be sure, and he was a lovely shade of blue. CPR! straw down the throat, breath, breath, breath. From that night on, the child slept with me. I didn't trust myself to be able to response simply because I was very sleep deprived. At the age of 10 or 11 he finally decided it was time to sleep in his own bed.

Oh, I tried many times to get that kid out of my bed, but, he insisted an "eye was watching him" in his room. No matter how hard I tried to convince him it was just a spot on the wall, I painted the wall, Kiltz it then repainted, put a picture up, then finally just gave up, pick and choose your battles! Besides there was no one else there anywhere so what difference did it make. Our world was just he and I.

I learned more about CPR, lung therapy, medications, PT than any non medical person needed to know. There should be some law against it. I was very involved in my son's long list of medical issues. I did just like any other parent would do. I studied, no internet then just find a book and read it, research, read, research and ask a horde of questions. I'm no different than any parent that loves their children. I was mom and dad all rolled into one. I was determined to be the best. Well, I failed miserable at being the best, but, I do love my son. Sometimes life throws us some unexpected curve balls. We can catch, swing or drop them. I dropped more than my share.

Whenever you have a sick child to deal with, or maybe it's just me, my mind seems to wander and wander. My thought process, as they call it in the mental health field, "wanders". It wanders down all sort of paths.

Once again, I would ponder the question, "am I really going to miss all of this?"

By the age of 17 he had outgrown all of airborne and food allergies, the asthma went away (we prayed really hard on that one) and all the other infections that plagued him, were just distance memories. He by the way, doesn't remember any of it. I told him one day not long ago when we were discussing how sick he was, "you better remember them." But he doesn't. Which by the grace of GOD, is a miracle.

There are a million stories on my journey with this kid of mine. I will post them as I have time and can remember them. Maybe somebody out there can use them. You know the old saying, about being forewarned? The best advice I was given when my son was a little guy was by a very mature lady. She told me, "don't let him walk, just keep pushing him down". I should have followed that advice.

Now comes the million dollar question, do I suffer the empty nest syndrome? My answer, hell no! I love having total control over my reclinder, my phone, my remote control, my bathroom, my hair dryer and everything else in my house that belongs to me that my son decided was his and his alone. Someone forgot to inform him that squatters ended after the depression. I now have total control over my property and life. Things do not get moved or misplaced. I know exactly where my scissors are at any given time of day - top drawer of the vanity on the right hand side. Do I miss my one and only son, yes and no.

The yes part of the answer is strictly because someone is not wanting food, clean clothes, or trying his best to convince me he is in need of another tattoo, or wants to talk for endless hours on why life is the way it is. I miss him jumping in bed, switching the channel on the TV and saying "you're gonna love this show, mamma". Which by the way I hate American Idol. I miss the way he overtook the TV with XBox and says, "just one more game, I promise". I do miss the maternal side of motherhood. But somewhere in my sick mind, I figured out I can just call him up and say "dinners on come on over".

The no part of the answer. He calls me ALL the time. I banned him every so often from too many phone calls. I really, really, really hate when he is locked up in traffic on his way home from work. I will say, "Son, you are limited to 2 phone calls a day and that's it", he tells me that I am not being very fair.

He will either start the phone conversation, with "hey my favorite mother" - which I am his only mother - this means he has some jaw dropping news that I need to sit down for - or "hey mommy dearest" - he really wants me to do something - or "hey momma what's up" - that's the lead in to I'm okay I'm just checking in with you.

If I don't get those 2 phone calls a day, I call him, I love cell phones - any time any place, I'm his mother he has to answer the call - and start the conversation, "hey baby I'm just checking to see if you are still alive".

He loves the phone. Always have. He always has at least two conversations going all the time. This is a very grating part of his personality that I'm still working on accepting.

He is a great kid. He's tall, 6'3", thin 175 lbs, when he had hair it was blonde, it's now shaven, which I do admit I help him shave it, still has those killer blue eyes and his body is now covered with tattoos.

These are just the ones I can remember. There's a three ball on his right wrist, don't ask, Hank Williams Jr, the initials C.B.C.S. - ie, country boys country songs, Jesus on his back, and I don't remember the rest of them because there are a lot. I told him one day, if I ever have to identify his body at the morgue, I would have no problem. Outside of the tattoos, he dresses just like the rest of the 26 year old population - t-shirts with cut out sleeves to show the biceps, blue jeans that he buys with holes and tears in them and tennis shoes. There is usually some sort of baseball cap slapped on top of his head.

Because I'm an artist and do a lot of pencil drawings, he decided one day that he really needed my Magnolia drawing. I asked him why. It was one of those conversation that started, "hey mommy dearest, did I tell you today that I love you?", I said, "drop the crap and tell me what you want?" Well to make this a short versus of this story, he wanted the Magnolia for another tattoo. In his mind, it would be really cool to have his mother's art work on his body. I told him "NO". My logic, my drawings are a work of art, they are not intended to end up on your butt, your pecks, your whatever other place that I really don't want to know on your body. My drawings are put in frames and put on a wall in someone's home. I won that battle. Pick and choose your battles.

I'll end this now. My answer, NO, somebody made up that empty nest syndrome just to confuse the rest of us parents.