Sunday, September 18, 2005

1989

We were all watching the Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss?, and L.A Law. It was also the year Lucille Ball passed away and U.S. jury convicted Oliver North in Iran-Contra affair. Def Leopard was big on the local radio, my hair required lots of hair spray, and my mom had me convinced my fine hair required a perm and I looked better as a blonde. It was also beginning of a defining age for me. Other than hair, midway through my 14th year I had started rebelling against my parents in almost every form I could.

Until that point I had been caught between two worlds, my family’s Mormonism and trying to fit in my public school. Somehow I never managed to fit within the ideal Mormon precincts, but as it is easy to do and I did find a way to fit in at school.

I was born a strong headed girl who also wanted to please her parents so much. It was such an internal battle within my mind until 14. That year I ‘went with’ my first boyfriend; and my first kiss. He was a year older than me and as far as I could tell, popular with the ladies. I wasn’t supposed to date until 16 but managed to find loop holes in my parent’s, and the church's, rules. I usually saw him at chaperoned events, which we managed to find weekly. We ‘went with each other’ (a.k.a. ‘go steady’, but we would have never use that terminology) for 6-8 months, I can’t remember exactly, but it was a long time for someone that age. We only kissed, life was so much simpler. For someone who had been an very awkward, the end of middle school was shaping up. I had grown to my current height by then and weighed in at 100 lbs. Shortly after ‘breaking up’, my freshman year of high school, 14 to 15, I managed to sneak out on a regular weekend basis. Once I stole my dad’s car to aid my girlfriend in running away from her crazy divorced parents, and I also tried my first beer, but not the two at the same time. Yet, perhaps by grace, somehow I managed to stay away from things like drugs. It’s not like I didn’t run into them, I was sneaking out of the house and going to parties we really shouldn’t have been at, but I never tried drugs. My parents, especially my mom, always thought I was out there doing these really wild things, but I wasn’t as bad as she accuses me of being. In all honesty I just wanted to hang out and I wanted to be away from my parents, it was a bit of finding out whom I was and it was a bit of an escape. This had also been the year that my mom’s neurosis really started to become apparent to me. I needed an escape that wouldn’t change the chemical composition of my mind.

That brief moment of my life taught me that I had a rebellious spirit that really didn’t want to harm myself or others. I also learned that I had to try in school. Within the year of rebelliousness my grades fell to their worst because I never studied. I learned I have to study; knowledge doesn’t come easy to me. After that year of pushing the limits, I found a better outlet in an actually getting good grades and an after school job that gave me some much needed confidence.

But that rebellious spirit will always be apart me.

My husband and I are back to an aperture in our marriage. We go through times like these a little more than a couple times a year. Time is making it easier to deal with; age is allowing me wisdom not to be too dramatic about these rifts that I don’t quite understand yet. I also now know it is not the end of the world. But it does feel really lonely and cold during these times. I want to find a way to still find laughter together during these times and I don’t think it is possible for him to want to be anymore far away from me. We can’t talk during these times because he says is nothing changes so therefore there is nothing to talk about. I can’t help but think we are selling ourselves short. I  reassure myself that he will eventually come out of this funk.

It is also these times I tend to spend more time away from the house. I take the kids to my parents more often, or find things to keep us busy away from him. Lately I have found myself starting to think about taking the kids all the way cross country by myself for a long weekend. (I don't know if I will actually do it.) There is a zoo out west that I visited a few years ago and I know my kids would love it. A friend of mine has a place nearby that is sitting empty right now. I also have enough frequent flyer miles for the trip. I feel guilty, but don’t really want my husband to come with us; I want a break from his snide comments he casually slips into conversations every now and then; his coldness and the disappointment that radiants from him anytime we are in the same room together. Maybe it would be nice to include him, a break maybe he needs himself, but right now I don’t like the thought of including him.

I wish my rebellious soul would just rest and I could put my pride aside.

Friday, September 09, 2005

I had no idea.....

I had no idea that it is going to take months, possible years to settle into our new home. I had no idea that my darling children would choose this time to test every ounce of patience I have. My two-year-old’s new thing is to run up and hit his older brother and then run away giggling. There is now frequent wrestling matching in the midst of all the boxes and I have trouble telling the difference between playing and a fight. I had no idea that my husband could start so many projects and then leave them half finished along with tools all over the place. Really, I was this clueless.!!!!!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Out of Her Element

I used to live in this metropolitan suburb in my early 20’s. So I didn’t think much of moving back for such a short period as I had lived here before.

I feel as though my life has been incredibly blessed (my life’s not perfect but I know it is by God’s grace I am as comfotable as I am). I also know within my heart I am supposed to give something back, I just don’t know what the timing will be.

The first homeless person I met was a middle aged African American lady who I noticed in the local park, not far from our condo. We had walked up to a small park and I noticed her sitting on one of the picnic tables’ bench. Previously, I had done a little work with some of the county shelters, mostly helping out with holiday fundraising, but I was aware enough of what the system is suppose to look like. While my son and husband were playing on the playscape, I went over and talked to her. I had never in my life gone out and purposely sought out a conversation with a homeless person, but my heart urged me to go speak to her. I did, starting with hello and as I did so I glanced over at my husband who I could tell thought I was crazy. She spoke to me about not knowing where she was going to sleep that night and not knowing what she was going to do. Maybe I was the 100th person who was trying to help this lady find her way, maybe I was the 1st. I told her about some of the shelters I knew of. She asked which bus stop should she get off at and since I have never ridden the bus I was unable to answer that question. I told her I would be back with an answer. I gathered my family as dusk was approaching, then I went home and called the shelters. Or I should say tried to call the shelters. Equipped with the internet, yellow pages and a telephone I had trouble finding a crisis line, how are homeless people suppose to find it???? It the hours are M-F, 9am -5pm; they seem so easy to get a hold of when you want to give them money!!! Finally I found one and called just to check, they would take her if she showed up. My step brother had stopped by while I was looking for the phone number and he drove me back up to the park as I didn't want to go alone. I gave her the phone number of the shelter and $2 for a phone call and bus fare. She tried to refuse the money, but I just asked her to use it wisely for I have been blessed with a little extra. I haven’t seen her at that park since and we go there almost every evening.

The second homeless person I met just a couple of days ago was convinced he was a WWII veteran. Honestly, he looked a too little young to me to really be a WWII vet, maybe old enough to be a Vietnam vet, but that is even questionable now I guess. No matter, apparently he had lost his marbles. I still don’t believe that mental illness is any reason for a person to live without a roof over their head. He was trying to sell little American flags during a recent local festival. We just passed him by like every other person that evening, but of course I felt guilty. I passed him again with my sister and couldn’t help but give him at little more than enough for coffee.

Within the last 2 months I have encountered more homeless than I ever did in the 4 years I lived here, 4 years ago. There are more that I have noticed around here than I have actually come in contact with.

Then today at the gas station, as I was putting gas in my car, a man approached me asking for a couple of dollars for gas. I let him have less than 2 gallons of gas as I wasn’t going to give him cash. The gas station attendant came out and said the man frequently does that there. I had been scammed, or at least it felt like it. He was driving an old beat up car. Who knows what the real story is.

All this reality is leaving me wanting to move back to my sheltered community as I feel so naïve and out of place. And there is a new yearning to eventually try to do something, in some small way, to fix the system that is apparently broke in more ways than one; hopefully my naiveté won’t go away.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Prophet On Love by K. Gibran



Then said Almitra, "Speak to us of Love."
And he raised his head and looked upon the people, and there fell a stillness upon them. And with a great voice he said:
When love beckons to you follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.
And when his wings enfold you yield to him,
Though the sword hidden among his pinions may wound you. And when he speaks to you believe in him,
Though his voice may shatter your dreams as the north wind lays waste the garden.
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your growth so is he for your pruning.
Even as he ascends to your height and caresses your tenderest branches that quiver in the sun,
So shall he descend to your roots and shake them in their clinging to the earth. Like sheaves of corn he gathers you unto himself.
He threshes you to make you naked.
He sifts you to free you from your husks.
He grinds you to whiteness.
He kneads you until you are pliant;
And then he assigns you to his sacred fire, that you may become sacred bread for God's sacred feast.
All these things shall love do unto you that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart.
But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.
Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.
Love possesses not nor would it be possessed; For love is sufficient unto love. When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, I am in the heart of God."
And think not you can direct the course of love, if it finds you worthy, directs your course.
Love has no other desire but to fulfil itself.
But if you love and must needs have desires, let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at the noon hour and meditate love's ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise upon your lips.
By K. Gibran



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K. Gibran has been one of my favorite writers since I was a child.  My mother bought me The Prophet when I was starting to show an interest in writing, and it is still my favorite book.  I still occasionally open the pages of my original book  for inspiration, perspective and sometimes just to enjoy the flow of the written word beautifully expressed.  For more information on him click here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khalil_Gibran
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wal-Mart???

Is Wal-Mart good for America? I am beginning to think we can not survive on Wal-Mart jobs alone. Is lowering the cost of goods, yet, mostly providing low-income jobs really the direction we want to go? Where our standard of living going? Is it improving or declining? Is this reason for concern?

I am all for fair trade, but I don't think fair trade is trading with countries who have no regard for human rights, human safety, sweat shops. I really think it is time we set standards for what we allow in the country. Is our government being bought off by the Chinese?

On the other side, I have bought things at Wal-Mart that have been made here. They sell the toys that are made less than 2 miles from my home.

I worry about what types of jobs are going to be around in 10-15 years from now. What is the future going to be like for my children? Should I be teaching my kids 5 languages just so they can leave the country and find a decent job?


Other interesting reads:
America's Maligned and Misunderstood Trade Deficit

Just thoughts,
Rachel

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Elizabeth

Betty is probably in her 70’s and has osteoporosis. As far as I could tell last year she lived alone, or at least I thought. She lives in a 1960’s lakefront ranch, which is well maintained but has never been updated. She and the older widowed lady next door were surprisingly supportive of my quest to put sewers in the neighborhood (I didn’t tend to get much fan fare from the senior citizens on my block). But what really struck me about Betty is she is the only one who seemed to realized what the sewer project was costing me out of my own pocket. I had people volunteer to help pass out information and get signatures on the petition, which most quit after they saw how difficult it really was. Some of them I know make 3 times as much as my husband and I. None of them offered to help pay for the copying or creating signs to remind neighbors about the meetings except for Betty. She was the only senior citizen that I came across who was thankful for what I was trying to do, offered financial assistance, and any other help I might need. I declined the offer, but her offer of support and enthusiasm for the project helped keep me going when I wondered if it was really ever going to happen.

A couple weeks ago, on a warm sunny morning as I was pushing my youngest in a stroller through our neighborhood, we came across Betty and a male companion walking and enjoying the beautiful day also. They were holding hands, talking up a storm, giggling, and flirting like you would expect to see in a much, much younger couple. I’m not sure who the man is but he certainly puts a bright smile on her face. When we stopped to chat, he seemed very happy also. They had that beam that people in love have for one another. It is nice to be reassured that love, the type of love that breaths life into your soul, has no age barriers.

Friday, May 13, 2005

SOLD!

Our little house is sold; time to move. I’m not sad about leaving the house (I need more space of my own), but my neighbors, the view…..that makes me really sad. Of course, my neighbor, Terry brought over some plants he potted for me while we were signing the papers last night. Now we have to find a place to live! I just want to be on some remote island by myself right now.

Friday, April 29, 2005

They Don’t Make Them Like That Anymore

He always tries to get the door for women. He cleans the snow off of his wife’s, daughters and stepdaughters cars in the morning. He will even warm up their cars up if there is time. He likes to surprise his family with breakfast in bed on Saturdays; he is legendary for his waffles. He can change the oil in the car and build walls to finish the basement. He plays with his grandchildren; he tries to teach them the piano and French when they spend time together; to him, they are a delight. He is willing to change his grandson’s diaper if it needs to be. He holds firm to the notion of chivalry, believes in God, importance of family, he is giving and kind, loves and shows his hurt .....this is just an little of what makes him an amazing man. He lives without really saying much, I think he believes his actions are louder than any words can be. They are.

My dad is an amazing man. I never really noticed how amazing until I watched him with my children. Our relationship is much different now that I have kids of my own. All those little things that my dad would do, I thought just to annoy me, no longer bother me so much. I see my father in a totally different light now. I don’t judge him as harshly anymore because life has taught me it isn’t always simple; I know he has tried to do the best he can. I only hope someday my kids can see me the same way, not perfect but doing the best I can.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

I’ve Been Taken Hostage!

I am being held captive, though I am only now realizing this. My captor speaks with a slow childish drawl. He seems to have problems pronouncing his words, except for the word 'candy'. I can make that one out very clearly. He can count, “1, 5, 3, 4". While trying to get ready for the day this morning, my hostage taker insisting he follow me down the stair, apparently there wasn’t enough time to finish getting ready. “Go!” He demanded, trying to turn my body to face down the stairs. “Walk!” I wasn’t sure if he meant I should start walking, or he was going to walk. “Ifford!” He demanded once down to the TV room. “Time out or ask nicely!” I rebutted. “Ifford, please.” While he took his seat. I pressed the play button on the DVD player. He immediately jumped up, pushed me into the kitchen. “Stay!” he barked. He returned to the TV room. I peered around the corner to spy him dancing to the Clifford, The Big Red Dog, intro song. The coast was clear. I quietly crept past the room and made my way back upstairs to finish getting ready.

My captor is about 2.5 feet and waddles when he walks. Most strangers think he is really cute; he can be charming when absolutely needed. He is prone to whining fits, has a good throwing arm (I am always amazed at how far he can throw his food), he can climb tall buildings, I think. He eats cookies partially then tries to put them back. If you see the man who help to make my captor (he looks alot like my captor but much larger and without the waddle), please tell him his wife needs a long vacation without the “cute” captor.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Star Wars

I was about 3 years old when the original Star Wars came out and can’t say I picked up much of the hype then. It was The Empire Strikes Back that was probably the first movie I ever saw in the theater. I must confess there is still apart of me that wants to be Princess Leia when I grow up. She was strong and dedicated to her cause, but still feminine; she could fight off Imperial Storm Troopers just as well as her cohorts, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Plus do it all, for the most part, in some form of dress or in the case of Return of the Jedi, almost nothing (I can’t say I would ever want to wear anything like that in public, much less around my brother!).

I am sure someone can poke holes in why Princess Leia was a good role model. In my view, she had a high level political position which was pretty cutting edge for that day; she was able to keep up with the men and still could show a compassionate side. Plus she fell for Han Solo (though I did personally have a crush on Luke Skywalker when I was 7) how much more of a superwoman could she be? Battle the evil forces of Darth Vader, be the youngest senator ever in the Imperial Senate and still have time for romance?

Now that my 4 year old is getting into the Star Wars trilogy, we are watching the movies. I find I am the one drawn to the Star Wars toys at the store. I have to regulate myself. Truth be told, I haven’t exactly grown up. I am not sure this part of me ever will. One of the things I love about being a mom is reliving my childhood a little with my children. It is so amazing to get down on their level and see it through their un-jaded eyes.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Passage

In order to understand our own passage I think we need to understand the one of the people we come from. This story starts with the past and hopefully makes its way to the present.

I grew up in a multigenerational Mormon (otherwise known as the Latter Day Saints) family. My parents are Mormon, my grandparents were Mormon. About five generations behind me, on my father’s side, my ancestors blazed a trail that started in Denmark for one, in England for the other. Both helped with the construction of what was to become Salt Lake City. One ended his years in Mexico and the other just outside of Salt Lake City. The generations between my pioneer ancestors and me have been devoted Mormons. I will always honor where I came from even though my own passage has caused me to leave the faith in which I was raised.

Thomas Steed

I recently came across my paternal grandmother’s grandfather journal. In it he, Thomas Steed, tells of his trip from becoming Mormon in Worcestershire, England in 1840, at the age of 14 to near his end at 84 years old in Farmington, Utah.

It starts with his parents which he describes his mother being, “of medium size, patient, very religious, naturally kind, open hearted and generous to a fault, giving almost her last crust to anyone in need.” His father (I can’t even think how far back of a grandfather that would make him to me) was “about six feet tall, heavy set (about 200 pounds), powerful, sober, hardworking, honest, industrious, thoroughly reliable. For a number of years he was the night watchman in the town of Malvern, England and later the foreman of the public highway.”

In 1835, when Thomas was 9 years old, his parents left the Church of England and joined United Brethren, opening their home to hold meetings. ‘I was in my fourteenth year and almost a skeptic in regard to the religion of the day. In the Sunday school I had asked my teacher if anybody knew that God lived, and if Jesus was the Redeemer crucified 1800 years ago. He answered: “My boy, you ought not to ask such a question, you ought to believe; I don’t know and I don’t’ know who could tell you!” The same question I asked of a number of other individuals who I thought could know, and received the same answer. That caused me to think that there was nothing in religion, if nobody knew anything about these things, and I made up my mind to have nothing to do with it.’ On my own personal note, I find it ironic that this same spirit caused one of his great granddaughters, me, to leave the faith which brought him to America; the same faith that him and the generations between us were so devoted to.

By no means in my American History class, 13 years ago, did I consider that one of my relatives actually lived what I had been learning. At the age of 18 with some of his Uncles, Thomas Steed, set out for Nauvoo, Illinois from their homes in England. Lying there in the text before me, my great, great, great grandfather was telling of arriving in New Orleans in 1844, riding on the Little Maid of Iowa, perhaps her last voyage, up the Mississippi River until they reached Nauvoo.

Shortly after the murder of the church’s prophet and founder, Joseph Smith. he moved with his uncles and their families along with his new wife to Keokuck, Iowa I think in spring of 1846. There they worked and saved for the journey west. “In June, 1849, the great calamity of Asiatic cholera spread its awful devastations through the United States and was very sever in Keokuck also. Very many were called at a few hours’ warning; a number of our Mormon brethren and sisters were taken.”

With four wagons, nines oxen, five cows, two mules, and one horse all shared by 10 members of his extended family they fled Keokuck and started west. Shortly beyond the Missouri River they joined up with 50 other Mormons pioneers in August of 1850. They traveled the Fort Kearney and the crossing of the South Platte.”


To be continued later………....

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Milkshake Cure

 It wasn’t that my children did anything other than what any other normal child does. Yet, my husband had been on my case earlier that morning because our 2 year old son was up (again) at 6:30 am hungry. He let me know before he left for work he strongly believed children should not be up that early. He was on my case about why I couldn't take control of this and get my 4 year old back to sleep.  After he closed the front door behind himself I thought, "Its's just as simply as that, right? Why is it that 'stuff' always seems easier for him? Why do the kids listen to his commands at first bark unlike the two or three times I have to repeat myself?" I realize now it was me. I was letting his nitpicking get to me; normally when he gets in these moods I can keep it in perspective.

But for the moment I believed he was right and while the morning sun shines through his white blinds  I tried as hard as I could to I pointlessly tried to put a small child back to bed.   At 9:00 am I realized how foolish I was being. Something in my cranium went. I made the emergency call; while tears streamed down my checks and the words trembled from my mouth; I needed my friend, my mentor in this mothering career, "Carole,  I can’t do this!!!!” She was over in less than 5 minutes, still in her pajamas, with her 16 year old son’s tennis shoes on her bare feet.

She listened as I told her my plight. “Why?!?” She offered condolences and told me of when her now 15 and 16 year old boys were my kid’s age. There were moments she thought she would go back to smoking. She said there where days when just another Barney song felt like it could tip the scales, she would pack them in the car for a drive so she could find her way back to reality.

I know it isn’t just about my children. It was my children’s needs and wants, my husband’s and mine came to the intersection of my life and everyone wanted me to make their world be something it was not in that moment. I took some important vows a couple of years back, brought a couple of very special children into the world and now I wonder how am I not going to lose myself, my true sense of self, in all of this?

I don’t have the answers... yet... but I have figured out so far I can’t do it all alone. I still need my dad, my step mom, my husbands parents. I still even need my ex-husbands parents. I am blessed that I have managed keep a good, close relationship with them. I need my sisters to help remind me of who I am. I need my friends, they are helping me become a better person and remind me to have fun.

One of the moms from my mothers group has been offered a really good job. She has been a stay at home mom all of her daughters’ three years of life. As with all moms who go back into the workforce, no matter how long they have been home, it is bittersweet. It is nice to do something for you, which is what employment offers, but losing the time with your child, something you know you will never get back, is difficult to let go of. I realized, a while ago, that I can’t be there for every second and it is unfair to my children to try to. She asked me for some advice about going back and all I could offer up is: it takes a village. If you have kind, loving people who are willing to love your child, not necessarily as you would, but love them never the less, aren’t you showing them the best part of this world? What a wonderful thing to share with your child that there are more people who will love them out there, more than just Mom and Dad. It’s not going to be all warm and fuzzy, and other people will do it their way, and that will bug you as a parent. But there is a difference between being protective and controlling. The most difficult issue for me is fact that other people do it differently than I would. I don’t always agree that my ex-mother-in-law gives my children so much juice and feeds them a ton of ice cream, but really is that something to get upset over? She loves them. She takes the time to get on the ground with them to play trucks with them, something I wish I had more time to do with them more often. So ice cream and juice are small in comparison to the love both of my boys get from her. Yesterday when the boys were at her house while I was at work, my ex-husband took the morning off and spent it teaching the boys the phrase, “I’m going to kick your butt!” Not something a mom wants her little sweet boys running around saying, but my ex also had just spent the whole morning wrestling with them. My little ones were on cloud nine. To hear their joy when I called to check on them more than made up for what phrase they were learning.

On the way home yesterday after a long day at work, the three of us, me and my two little guys, stopped at McDonald’s for a milkshake; I was probably still feeling guilty about being so unreasonable about trying to get them to go back to sleep earlier this week. As we were waiting for our treats I overheard the lady at the counter tell a co-worker “God’s been testing me this week.” I just thought to myself, “he’s been testing all of us this week, sister”. As Kevin, my oldest, took a drink of his milkshake he said, “Mommy, I love you.” I had been forgiven. My child's love is a beautiful thing.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Whole Foods

On my way home today I stopped by Whole Foods Market and ran in to pick just a handful of things up. As I was pushing my grocery cart to the check out, I stopped just as I pulled in. From the corner I noticed an older man trying to cut me off so he could get ahead of me. I was so amazed at the spectacle that I looked at my cart then at the stuff he had jumbled in his hands and said, “Go ahead” a little bewildered. It all made sense when the lady ahead of me who just finished her transaction told the puzzled cashier, “This is my husband, we forgot a few things.”

I live a life full of males, my house is full of them, I work in a very male dominated industry and I have always had at least a few close male friends, which is great, it keeps me in the know for my little guys. Plus, it is not that there aren’t any women in my life, I am very close with my sisters and I have a group of girlfriends.

About the same time my ex-husband came back into my life, before he was even my husband, I had started to spend a lot of time with Frank; the company he worked for and mine were working on a project together that I was assigned to write the manual for it. Frank and I had an easy, natural friendship. This particular time Frank had to take a customer and his wife out see a game of hockey and to the local Chop House, he called to let me know he would like it if I went with them. That night he kissed me for the first time as we were waiting for the shuttle to come and pick us up. When he kissed me it was different, somehow more special than others before and as he held my hand, it felt protected.

When you are walking the line between a friendship and a relationship someone has to take that jump of faith and tell the other how they feel. Neither of us did that, so we fell back into our friendship, nothing was mentioned about the kiss. And I started seeing the man who would eventually become my ex-husband more seriously. Frank and I stayed friends though my marriage. As I was going through the divorce Frank would always tell me how he had written me a couple of letters but never sent it, several times. I didn’t understand if it was something to help me through a hard time or something more. I wish Frank had sent me those letters because then maybe I wouldn’t have lost a great friend, maybe I still would have. It wasn’t until well after our communication slowed did I realize what may have been going on. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything, but we will never know. I wouldn’t have thought that older man at Whole Foods today was so strange if he had just said, “Excuse me that is my wife ahead of you”.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Is your heart getting larger with your life?

“Is your heart getting larger with your life?” Pastor Chris asked the congregation last night. He spoke about how life can cause our hearts to shrink if we don’t take a time out and enjoy the things such as music, nature or even spend time with someone who adores us openly. Everyone needs a soul fill up every once in a while to help us enlarge our hearts so that we can show more compassion to others. Here are some heart expanding exercises that he recommended:
*Listen to beautiful music, something that inspires you
*Take time to enjoy beautiful scenery. Look up at the stars at night, enjoy a sunset.
*Have time away, we all need a change of scenery to recharge.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Journey through joint custody

This is my first try at starting a blog. Please bear with me through my mistakes. I will make many. Feel free to make suggestions. I am starting it with something I wrote for my son. It is a story I want to share in case there are others out there like I once was and still am.
Rachel

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My memory starts when I was seven, my mother would pack majority of my father’s clothes in a suitcase and leave them on the front porch usually when he had to work late or went out of town on business. I and my younger brother and sister were instructed not to let our father in when he tried the door only to find the locks changed once again. This happened so many times that my middle sister tells of times that my mother’s behavior frightened her and I would reassure her that this would pass, mom does it all the time. Things spiraled more and more out of control through the years. My mother taught me to think of my father as this horrible, zealously religious man who took advantage of his wife; as a child I never let him into my life. I never heard her say anything nice about him. Reality of what was going on hit me when I saw my mother recruiting the youngest two, then 7 and 9 to help throw (literally) my father’s things outside onto the lawn; underwear, clothing, contents of his office including the large desk. I knew my mom was wrong and I was wrong for going along with her. I realized maybe I should give my paternal grandparents, who I had been cut off from for 10 years, a chance and my father who lived in the same house as I grew up in but I never took time for, nor respected. My parents had five children in all and finally divorced after 23 years of marriage.

At 25 I found myself in a relationship that I knew wasn't working for either of us and unexpectedly pregnant. My largest fear was becoming my mother. I honestly believe life is too short to be so miserable and, though marriage is hard, requires work and will go through rough times, there are certain relationships that it is healthier to let go of then hang on. I hung on through the pregnancy hoping that things would get better and when I knew I had exhausted my options, and myself, and that I did not have a healthy home for my son, I filed for divorce.

Now, at two and a half years old (and two years later), my son Kevin, is a very well adjusted child and no one person can take full credit for it. It is all him and the people who love him so much, all of us. I believe that each of us, his step dad (who is just as much a dad as his biological father), his biological father, I, grandparents all play an imperative role in his life.  Mothers, just as fathers, are important. We all have important roles to play, and when there are holes, well... those are holes in the foundation. I have made decisions that have gone against what my family, attorney and counselors have advised me, not out of rebellion but life has taught me different lessons than what most people know. Mainly, I don’t want Kevin living through the hell I lived through as a child. Kevin’s dad surprised me when he requested joint custody as we were going through the process. I couldn’t take away from Kevin what my mother had taken away from me (my father and extended family). In the beginning I didn’t believe Eric, Kevin's father, wanted it truly from his heart. He had refused the first six months of Kevin’s life to change diapers when I was around and do the other tasks he considered ‘women’s work’ on top of me to working full time outside the home. He spent most of his time away from us and not because of work (he somehow is one of the lucky few who can work less than 36 hours a week and make a very good living) but because his social life is so much more important. When joint custody was surprisingly proposed by him, I was taken back, but realized that Kevin needed a father AND a mother. We agreed to joint custody, fifty/fifty straight down the line with the philosophy that if I saw he started to flake out I would go back to court and fight for full custody. In my mind Kevin had a right to have his father involved in his life as much as me and as long as his father wanted that role, and was a healthy parent to be around, I had no right to stand in the way. There were times it was really difficult to put my feelings aside and focus what was right for Kevin not just what was necessarily easy for me. Now we talk at least daily about Kevin’s activities and a little about what is going on in our own lives. We don’t always agree and I have had to bit my tongue many times and so does he; we try to comprise in order to give Kevin a firm foundation.

One person can raise a child well --but I think children are better off learning how to work through differences via a good examples of reasonable adults.

Copyright 2005