Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankful to be here, now

Last week, as she reached for the milk, my teen’s wrists gave a glimpse to my husband and me that all was not well in her adjustment to high school.

She was not happy to be discovered, and bitterly decried our lack of comprehension at “how things are” and shrieked at me “you were NEVER a teenager.”

But I was, oh I was.

An anorexic and bilumic teen who often thought of suicide. It is impossible to explain to someone suffering their own angst of adolescence with the confusion and joy of the known world on her desktop what it was to be young in the 1970’s, when your father has dropped dead within days of your 13th birthday and your mother and you are from different planets, and no one is self actualized and we don’t have SSRI’s and you are trapped in a world where no one understands you and how much living hurts. I was supposed to be the responsible one, and there were only a few really gifted teachers who reached out for me and caught my own free fall back then. It is bitterly ironic that I cannot share this with my own child in a way she could hear it so that she could know that I have been through the abyss and survived.

I have danced with thoughts of self destruction and death through the years. A survivor of date rape by 20, of ransacked apartment and attack by hatchet by 25, of betrayal and identity theft by 30 and subsequent bankruptcy both financial and spiritual, I have not always been handed the best hand in the card game of life. A family problem with serotonin makes those black times blacker, but I only know that now. Somehow an inherent sense of life and the chronic inability to kill or get rid of anything (evidence: my garden) including myself drove me forward through those times and I am still here. A fantastic tolerance for pain also helps. But most of all, I believe, in some wacky way that I was lucky, the universe was looking out for me, and someone sympathetic, the right person to listen, was always there in the nick of time. There is grace in my fellow humans.

Life is not kind. It is as likely to kick you in the teeth as hand you a flower. It is not fair or gracious, that is our job as the humans. To achieve anything you will have to work your ass off, and you still may end up in the soup kitchen line. But maybe I can stack the deck for my daughter and make sure those listening people are there even if I have to pay them. Maybe I can sprinkle our lives with people are truly present, who are listening and paying attention.

The one thing that not offing yourself gives you is the secure knowledge you can hang on by your bloody fingernails until it passes. When the fairies pass out gifts at births that might not be the one you would pick, fame, beauty, wealth and a good singing voice being higher on the wish list. But when the proverbial poop hits the fan as it invariably will, I will take the tenacity to go on living in the face of all evidence to the contrary. And if you hang on, there will be jackpot day; sunrise, a toddler’s giggle, the soft snuggle of a baby rabbit, the smell of gardenias in the wind, the flavor of Belgian chocolates. Life is a gift, and it is a great tragedy that my beloved child is having such a hard time enjoying that some days now. She is not the only member of my extended clan with that difficulty, and that in its own way, is our human condition.

As you feast and are grateful for that feast, really be with the people you are with and enjoy.

A song from when I was a teen, I used to sing this one at guitar mass.—Seals and Crofts, 1973
Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.
Love, like the Autumn sun, should be dyin' but it's only just begun.
Like the twilight in the road up ahead, they don't see just where we're goin'.
And all the secrets in the Universe, whisper in our ears
And all the years will come and go, take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.

Dreams, so they say, are for the fools and they let 'em drift away.
Peace, like the silent dove, should be flyin' but it's only just begun.
Like Columbus in the olden days, we must gather all our courage.
Sail our ships out on the open sea. Cast away our fears
And all the years will come and go, and take us up, always up.
We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again.

So, I wanna laugh while the laughin' is easy. I wanna cry if it makes it worthwhile.
We may never pass this way again, that's why I want it with you.
'Cause, you make me feel like I'm more than a friend.
Like I'm the journey and you're the journey's end.
We may never pass this way again, that's why I want it with you, baby.

We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again.
We may never pass this way again. We may never pass this way again

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

slumber parties

We reached another milestone. An 8th birthday. You become eligible for slumber parties in our house once you have achieved 8. I have no solid developmental reason for this, aside from the fact that at that point they usually understand basic hygene and are less likely to wake me up at 3 am sobbing to go home. So, my youngest had a sleepover for her 8th. I clearly have become absent minded since I had completely forgotten how exhausting it can be for the PARENTS. My son’s last batch of sleepovers was known as Camp and it was handled by young, fit men who are not old and senile like me. I will need a weekend in a spa with 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep to recover from the next one….. First of all, there is no sleeping at a slumber party. It’s too darn exciting to do something boring and mundane like sleeping. I made my best effort to get them all to sleep at a decent hour, but being in a room with all these girls wiggling and squealing assures that most of the kids do not settle down. Ever. I literally read bedtime stories in a soothing voice for over an hour. My own child passed out after 10 minutes, but the others held on until nearly midnight, which is decidedly past MY bedtime. I could barely keep my eyes open, the words blurred before me, but all those kids will get A’s on their reading logs this week because I plowed through two entire chapter books. With expression.

Then morning comes, and despite the blankets I had placed over the windows to black out the lights, the first one woke up at 6 am—and promptly tickled her compatriots into joining her in the new day. I lay in my bed listening to the shrieks of joy (I hope) unable to rise thinking dark murderous thoughts. But the risk of awakening a foul mooded teen also in the house was too great so I went on duty. Two cups of espresso banked the lack of sleep hangover. Waffles were had, games were played, suitcases packed then our young partiers were returned to parental units. Except I still had my overly tired birthday girl who promptly fell into post party blues. It was a very very very long Sunday. I had spent the entire previous day as the emotional punching bag for before mentioned moody teen at the opening of the high school fencing season so emotional reserves were gone, as was my sense of fun about this parenting gig. I faced the errands, laundry and week prep that is part of our Sunday routine with the enthusiasm of a condemned prisoner.

Not enjoying the mom thing…need a break…. I can’t wait to get to work on Monday so I can get away from everyone needing me, and needing more of me than I have.