Acceptance

I don’t often remember my dreams.  I don’t know why that is.  I just don’t.  But every so often a dream comes through that I do remember, and is so vivid, I truly do believe that it is trying to send me a message from somewhere.

I have dreams about my mother like that. Maybe once a year or every two years.  Almost always the same….in the dreams, she somehow lived through her initial illness twenty years ago, but we’re fighting it again.  Reliving the journey to her passing, somehow.  I can still recall bits of these ultra vivid dreams as if they actually happened.

Sometimes the dreams are different.  I don’t know why I have them.  There’s a dream I can still recall of a house I never lived in, but I can see the house and it’s layout in my head as if it did exist, as if it was part of my experience.  Even though it never was.

Two nights ago I had a dream like that.  A dream of a conversation that never happened, but was so real that I will never shake it.   Earlier that evening I ran into a friend who is a single mom.  She has one daughter from a marriage and two adopted children that she adopted after the marriage was over.  In the dream, she was asking me how to talk to her adopted children about their absent parent, how to help them understand their situation.

And just like that, in the dream, I answered her:

“First, you need to let them know that no matter what their background is, what happened to them from their biological parents, that you love them.  You have to make sure that is so crystal clear in their heads that they know it as part of who they are.  They can’t doubt it.  That you are their parent and that you love them more than you could love anything else.

Second, you have to be sure to never, ever talk negatively about that absent biological parent.  Even if you have super strong feelings about what they may or may not have done for your child.  At the end of the day, they know that parent exists and if you talk negatively about that person, you’re talking negatively about a part of who they are.  Ideally, some day, you’ll let that anger you may have go….but until that day, you have to keep it away from your children.  That’s your burden, not theirs.

Third, you have to acknowledge whatever feelings they may have about that parent.  They are real, and they’re allowed to have them.  Those feelings have nothing to do with you, as hard as it is to realize that.  Missing an absent parent, wanting to know more about that parent, this is a normal part of what an adopted or child with an absent parent goes through.  They know there is a piece missing and they want to know who they are.  You have to support their feelings and allow them to explore them.  If you have history with the absent parent, this is a very hard one, but it is vitally important to the child having a healthy sense of self.  They will mourn the parent that isn’t there, and you have to be there with all the love and support you can when they do.  But if they want to go searching, if they want to reach out….if it is safe for them to do so….you have to let them.

Fourth and finally, you must always be truthful.  Don’t lie.  Take the questions as they come, don’t offer more information than they can handle at the age they are, but always be honest about who their biological parents are.  But the second rule applies here too:  be honest, but don’t be negative.  If the parent is absent because they are in jail, or a drug addict, hold that information until the child is older.  When they are younger, say something like that the absent parent just ‘wasn’t ready’ or ‘was so sick she couldn’t take care of you’ or something more general, but also not negative.  If you have photos of the parent, show them to the child.  They should always know who they are.”

I woke up from the dream with such a sense of peace.  And then I realized….I am at peace.  I’m done waiting for my son’s biological father to finally figure out that he’s this amazing kid’s parent.  It doesn’t matter any more.  I did everything I could for my boy to fill the gap.  And I know that, as unfair as it is, some of that gap will never be filled, because he knows (because I have always been truthful with him) who his biological father is and that he has never been a part of his life.  But I also know that I have done a great job despite the challenges.

My son is working, thriving, married and expecting his own child.  He is a credit to me and my husband, who from the moment we met, took my son in as his own.  We are his parents.  We have helped him grow into the man he has become.  And while I am sad that my son’s story doesn’t have the happy ending that I had always hoped it would, I am done with wishing for things that I cannot control.  There is nothing I can do to lead that horse to water.  Did I make mistakes?  Yes.  Of course I did.  But none of them merit living as if your own son doesn’t exist.  I’ve done all that I can do to make it right for my son.  And I can finally, finally say that I am at peace with it.

I hope someday my son will be as well.

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Whirlwind

So I sent the email a few days or so ago, to my former boss, the Rock Star that had seventeen top forty hits, one of which rhymes with “Messy’s Girl”.  I write that in code and you’ll see why in a moment.

It’s strange to do that, after so many years of not working for him, and stranger still to prepare to go to a show, something that I haven’t done in four years.  I have grown by leaps and bounds since I used to work on his website, with his fans, and I’ve moved beyond so much that drove me to need to do those things.

A girlfriend who is also a fan had emailed me a few weeks back asking if I wanted to go to this show in New York City, a small venue, all acoustic.  Normally I’d say no; it’s a weeknight, and the city is not terribly easy to get to on a weekday.  Someone would have to get the kids dealt with after school.  And would I stay overnight or no?  ($$).  Would I take the train in or drive ($$)?  It’s a hassle on a good day, so I said I’d look into it.

Meanwhile, while we were having the conversation, tickets went on sale, and we both snapped up good seats.  A few days later, I’d asked two of my Not So Die Hard Fan girlfriends if they wanted to go, and we had a group of four women, ready to descend on the city for a RS show.

To be honest, I loved the idea of sharing that part of my former life with these women, who have never known me as the Fangirl, Fan Liason, Part of the Team.  It’s a world that seems surreal to me at times to.  But still, I thought it could be fun.

So I sent the email a few days ago, as I used to always do, and the response was lovely.  “Can’t wait to see you, please come early etc etc.”  Also a few choice words about an issue that had strangely made its way into the news of late.

Here’s where the story gets weird.

Long story short, I found myself an hour later diving into the archives of the fan email database I used to be a huge part of looking for ideas and information to pass along.  I dotted the Internet, looking for references to the issue in question and started compiling research.

I didn’t think twice about it.  I’d done work for him for so many years, researched ideas for marketing, promotion, charity, events, it was as easy as slipping on your favorite jeans that you forgot were in the back of the closet.  As if nine years hadn’t passed since I last wore the “official” hat, I posted online asking fans who had any information regarding what I was researching to message me privately.

Except.

Within twenty minutes of my doing that, another fan did the exact same thing.  Using much stronger language, stating she’d “been asked” to compile research and do legwork and on and on.

Which is fine, the more the merrier I suppose.  But somehow, it reminded me of the constant push/pull/who’s on top/who’s better than anyone else/who has the most connection/who’s the most helpful to this guy game that I so remembered and so disliked about being involved.  The work?  Loved it.  Loved being useful, helpful.  The “get out of my way, I was here first” vibe?  So don’t miss it.

It was as if suddenly my offer to help became pushed aside by someone who was louder, more overt, more forceful.  I watched, in amazement, as the online postings from her and fans went on and on and on.  I quietly posted one or two things more about my offer to gather information and watched as the same old patterns emerged.  People questioned the women who clearly had some sort of official conduit to The Man In Question, others defended them.  The other person who was helping posted some defensive remarks, similar to ones I likely had typed into some computer, some time ago, when I was being questioned about my work with The Rock Star Who Shall Not Be Named (did I really come across as that arrogant?  God, I hope not).

I saw it all shake out and it just reminded me how far I’ve moved beyond.  Beyond the need to be seen by Him and His Fans as smart, helpful, connected.  I did used to need it.  It definitely defined me.  But now?  I put my head down, compiled my information and sent it along.  Answered the emails that came in with the knowledge I have.  Did the work for the sake of the work, nothing else.  I could feel the urge to respond, to stand up, to say, “Don’t you know who I am?  Or who I was?”  I felt it, sure.  But then I realized, I didn’t need to.  I know.  I know it and I don’t doubt it.   How about that?

Frankly, it was a good lesson before next week.  Did I like being useful?  Of course, and the kind words I received in response were lovely.  But mostly, I loved knowing that no matter what happens on Tuesday at this show, I will enjoy it.  I will slip on those old pair of jeans and step back into that world for a little while.  The beauty of it, though, is that I will do so taking all of the knowledge and lessons I’ve learned in the last nine years with me.  It won’t be the same, at all.

I’m thinking it will be better.  🙂

Hanging On

I’m still hanging on here in my little corner of the world.  Things are quiet and busy and for the most part good.  Here’s a quick sampling of the latest and greatest goings on these days:

1.  I am running for the local Board of Education (again).  I’m so much more jaded and realistic about it this time.  I know it’s all just a shell game of name recognition and party affiliation.  Our town is a red town so running as a D is tough, but doable if you have enough name recognition.  I have done a lot in town so we’ll see what happens.

(Here is where I could lapse into a huge diatribe about how this whole government shutdown is keeping me up at nights and how party and politics is stupid and why can’t people do the right thing, but I digress).

2.  My daughter is busy, busy, busy and it’s getting hard to keep up with her.  It’s a good thing, a far cry from her awful days last fall when she struggled with friends and spent a great many days alone in her room after school.  I’m loving that she’s thriving in marching band, in soccer and landed a role in the middle school fall drama.

3.  My little guy is holding his own, but isn’t doing much for activities.  At this point we’re chalking it up to needing the down time after holding himself together all day at school.  We’ve had a few alarming meltdowns recently (one, two weekends ago, was a reminder of the bad old days, with an all out screaming fit that lasted over half an hour).  I’m not going to lie, I’m a little worried for him, but staying the course.

4.  Hubby is looking to potentially switch jobs.  This is big news but likely won’t mean too much of a change for us as a family.  He’s been putting feelers out with other companies and getting some results….we will see what the next few months bring.  After being with the same company for two moves and 13 years, it seems like a big jump.  Especially since this job was the one that brought us here to CT where we knew exactly one person when we moved here.  The new positions he is looking at mean no move but lots of travel for him.  It’s not a huge change for us, and will probably be a great thing for him.  We’ll see what happens.

5.  Worried about my son and daughter in law with all of this shut down business.  My son’s job is with a private company but a lot of their work comes via the EPA so this is all getting a bit much.  They have a baby on the way and I was already worried about how they will support themselves once he/she is born.  They don’t have the luxury of throwing away their savings right now on stupid party politics.  For the love of God, I hope these idiots in the House get their shit together today.

6.  Entered a weight loss challenge from now until Thanksgiving.  I’ve been trying to lose the same 15 pounds for…gulp….two years.  Enough is enough.  Hoping this will be the wakeup call/jump start I need to finally make better choices and feel better about my body.

7.  Speaking of losing weight, it would be perfect timing because I’m finally going to see my favoriate rock start again after four years.  A few girlfriends and I are going to see my pal Rick Springfield in NYC in November.  It’s a small, initiate, acoustic show at a winery.  I hope everyone enjoys it and I’m able to just lose myself in the moment without all the crap that used to be part of going to RS shows.  We’ll see.

That’s about it for now.  Deep thoughts are for later….it’s 6:15 am right now and time for me to start the day.

43

I turned 43 a week ago today.

It was a quiet day.  Birthdays at this age aren’t the source of fanfare they used to be.  Still, it was nice day filled with good wishes and friendly camaraderie.   My girlfriends had taken me out a few days before, my family took me out the day after, and all manner of far flung people filled my cell phone and Facebook page with their thoughts.

I’ve always said that getting older doesn’t really bother me.  In fact, I try to revel in the fact that I am extremely healthy and look young for my age, despite having a child in his twenties.  Certainly I’ve never even thought about lying about my age; as it is, people still greet my eldest’s age and station in life with shock.  I see them do the math in their heads when I tell them how old he is, how old I am.  Still, all told, 43 isn’t a problem for me.

I’ll be 43 this year, the year I become a grandmother.

My son and his wife shared their news with us this weekend, four days after my birthday.  They are expecting their first child, in March.

So many thoughts have occurred to me since the moment they told us.  They seem so, so young.  Except they’re five years older than I was when I had him.  They seem so unprepared, but yet they both still have good jobs.  I was still in college when I had my son.  They’ll need to move, to find a bigger place, but they’re still out on their own.  I was living at home, with my mom, when my son was born.

Everything I hear myself saying about how they’re not ready yet to be parents flies in the face of my own experiences.  And I worked it out, made a good life for my child, my children.  Right?

I want to happy for them, but I am so worried for them.  I wanted my son to not make any of the same mistakes that I did, and to have a much different experience than I had as a young adult.  I wanted him to revel in his twenties, have that time to enjoy life and travel and not worry about every penny, not worry about tomorrow and just have fun.

But I raised this boy to be responsible, thoughtful, and goal oriented.  So he’s done it all right:  gone to college, gotten his degree, gotten married, lived on his own, saved his money.   He didn’t waste his time partying because it simply isn’t in him.  I hope he feels that he’s had a lot of wonderful experiences, that he’s enjoyed his life as a young man.  Because his life is about to change dramatically.  It won’t ever be the same.  And most of the time, that will be wonderful, amazing, a gift that he will always cherish.

I hope they’re ready.  I pray they are ready.  And I wish, against all hope, that somehow the universe will hear me.

The Thousandth Mile

I’ve mentioned before that I live in Monroe, CT.  We here have been deeply affected by the events that took place on 12/14.  I wrote extensively about the charity 5K I put together (with a lot of help!).  One of the groups that benefitted from that race was the Race4Chase organization.  They get involved with various athletic events and encourage runners especially to run to raise money for their foundation, the Chase Kowalski Foundation.  Chase was an avid runner, even at 7.  He had competed in races and triathalons.  His energy and spirit are the rationale behind the cause.

Monroe is one of those places that people don’t leave.  It’s a small town in close enough proximity to NYC that there are plenty of reasons to stay.  Not only is it beautiful here, but there is a true sense of community here.  The people here are so nice; nicer than pretty much anywhere I’ve lived, and that includes my own hometown in Michigan.  Chase’s parents grew up here in Monroe, and didn’t go far.  They live next door in the Sandy Hook area of Newtown.  A lot of their friends from high school also live nearby, including one named Kevin Bresnahan.

Kevin is a runner, and not long after last December’s tragedy, he had the brainstorm to run a 1,000 miles this year in honor of Chase.  He’d heard that Chase had loved running and races, so he thought it was the one thing he could do to help.  He asked people to sponsor his miles, at $10 per mile.  His efforts actually helped give focus to the idea that eventually became Race4Chase, running to raise money for the foundation.  He started a blog to journal about each and every mile, and it can be read here:  1000 Miles 4 Chase.

He started last January.  I started reading it back then, and it was amazing to watch the miles, and the money, add up.  Kevin ran our local 5K as part of those miles, and I joined him for another 5K later that month.  He ran, and ran, and ran.  And lo and behold, the miles have added up.  This weekend, he finished.

As he neared the end, Kevin and some of the friends of the Kowalski family hatched an idea to share that last mile of his journey.  He worked with them to plan a route, a meeting place, get a police escort, and a big party for afterwards.  The last mile started at Chalk Hill School, where the Sandy Hook students now go.  It ended at their good friend’s house, just a mile away.  So meaningful.

This weekend was that last mile, and I was one of nearly 100 people who came out to complete that last mile with Kevin.  It was an awe inspiring, amazing time.   It was hot, so much of the route was walked by most of us, and I walked up part of the route with Becky Kowalski.  What an amazing energy and spirit she has.  She was upbeat, and positive, and even joked about how much she hated running, and why couldn’t Chase had loved a different sport that was less taxing?   She was incredible.

At the end, Kevin held Becky’s hand and ran through a finish line in their friend’s yard.  Then they both jumped in the pool to cool off.  And stayed to party with everyone who had come out in support of them.  It was friendship and love and support and faith and strength all together in one thirty minute span of time.

They inspire me.

Letting Go of Control

I am wrestling with my need for control over the last few weeks, and it’s really bothering me.

Rick Springfield jokingly signed one of my favorite treasures, a wooden box a fan had made for me with a photo of him and I on it:  “To my favorite control freak.”  It’s true.  When I’m in charge of something, I’m in my element because being a control freak is allowed.  Encouraged, even, to make sure an event or a group stays on task or runs smoothly.  It’s a role I like and have gotten much feedback from over the years.

But what about when I’m not in charge?   I ruin what might otherwise be great experiences because I am frustrated by things not being done the way I would do them.  I can’t get past my own sense of frustration and agitation at others and their lack of concern for this or that, or this person or that.

And I’m starting to wonder, what kind of life would I have if I could just learn to let go?   If I could just roll with the punches and enjoy the experiences that come my way, without feeling the need to craft those experiences or make them happen?  Would I even be where I am, living with the person I am, living the life I am?  Maybe not.

Because the thing that drives me most nuts about my partner is that I didn’t choose an opposite in that regard.  I chose someone who is exactly like me in his need to make sure things are a certain way.  In fact, he makes my touch of OCD look like a small affliction compared to his full fledged case of it.  Our most constant source of arguments and fights come when my need to have things go a certain way and his need for them to go a different way clash.  It’s often, all too often.  I’ve learned over the years what to stay firm on and what to let go.

But that letting go is hard for me.  It’s seriously hard.  And it’s not healthy.  I wish I were one of those people who just didn’t let things like that bother them.  I would enjoy life more and worry less.

Still, though, I would wonder what I was missing.  😦

Things Are Quiet

I know that I haven’t blogged in weeks.  Things in my life have been busy, mostly in a good way, and not much news or anything eventful has happened.

For a few minutes my husband talked about the possibility about moving overseas.  But as has happened every other time this topic has been brought up, the talk faded and nothing happened.  This time he dangled Budapest and Shannon, Ireland in front of me.  Neither are exactly on my bucket list or anything, but still, the thought of spending a few years as an expat in Europe seems like an amazing opportunity for us as a family.  I was a little disappointed when the opportunity was snatched away.

The kids finished up the school year.  My youngest, the one on the spectrum, finished fifth grade.  In our world this means transition to middle school.  I spent several weeks planning meaningful gifts for all who have looked out for him and helped him grow over his time at the school.  It’s still hard to believe he’ll not be there next year.  When I look at him compared to the other kids his age, I wonder how he’ll survive; he seems hopelessly immature.  But he has always risen to the challenges life presents to him, so I am confident he will to this as well.

My son and his wife spent last weekend here, the first time we’ve spent any significant time with them since they were married in April.  It was nice to just sit and be with them, although I felt slightly guilty for not really having anything planned to do with them.  They had actually come to see our favorite priest, because he has been sent to a different church and we won’t be seeing him very often anymore.  Their visit was a sum total of 26 hours.  But in that time I got to see that they do seem to be smoothing out each others’ edges and getting along quite nicely.

My web design business is still puttering away.  It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to keep me occupied.  Two projects this summer are being worked out via the barter system:  I get services in return for my services.  It’s a nice deal that would only happen in a small town like the one I live in, so I’m grateful for it.

For now, it’s summer and the living is easy.  We are visiting the pool, the Farmers’ Market and loving the bounty coming from our garden.  There may be a family trip, or there may not be.  Either way it’s fine.  Things are quiet and content for the most part.  Sometimes quiet is good.  Right now, it is.

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