Category Archives: Parenting

Leaving for Foster

I didn’t have to do anything except gather the plastic bags full of his shirts and pants and socks and underwear and shoes. Bags with books and teddy bears.

All he had.

I stood in the room with others, including his foster Mom.

We just waited watching him weep. Watching a child’s heart break.

He wept so silently and so constantly.

He didn’t know how much love sat in that room with him.

He doesn’t know that today may be the greatest day of his life. The day that changes everything for the better.

Tonight all I can think of is a boy who is in a house that isn’t his. No matter how bad that one was, this one isn’t his.

I’m sorry for what life has visited upon you. You touched people today who will think of you always.

Sleep tonight little man.

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

I don’t post much anymore and this post is long and it’s not funny but I really hope you will read it. I ask you to read it. And share it because it matters not just in Portland, not just in Oregon but throughout the U.S.

My mother was a teacher before I was born. She began her career in upstate New York and then moved to Portland, Oregon. In Portland she taught at Boise (pronounced Boyce) Elementary in North Portland which in 1963-64 was a very nasty neighborhood. Race relations in the U.S. were not good at that time (not that much has changed) and the Albina neighborhood where Boise is located, was a violent, rough place.

Police-in-Albina

Albina 1969

Joan, my mom, was 100 lbs of Irish power (her maiden name was Powers). She was a tough little customer and had tons of colorful stories from her time teaching at Boise. Joan taught a little girl named Maria Pia Gompetro (sp?). Maria was a spitfire and when parent-teacher conference time came, Maria had to sit in and translate for her mother, who was from Italy. My mom would say, “Maria needs to settle down and pay attention in class.” Maria would translate and her mother would nod and smile. “Maria, I don’t think you’re telling your mother what I just said.”

She had an African-American boy in one of her classes who she walked by one day and placed her hand on his back to look at his work and he winced. She took him out of the class and looked at his back. In her exact words, his back looked like “hamburger”. She called his mother to come in and his mother said, “Don’t you worry Miss Powers, I’m making sure so and so does his work.” Her method of making sure the little guy did his work was whipping his back with a wire coat hanger. My mother told her if she touched him again, she would have her arrested.

My mother had a theory, had a goal of identifying children who were smart and had the drive to do better and getting them the education that would get them out of the ghetto they lived in. She went to Boise school officials and Portland Public School officials and begged them. “I can tell you who these kids are, get them out of here and give them a chance.” Nope. No can do, that’s not fair.”

Floyd. I can’t remember Floyd’s last name. Floyd was far too old to be in the 4th grade at Boise. He was smart and funny and his home life was a violent hell hole. Floyd loved my mother and was very protective of her. He would walk up and sit on the corner of her desk when the class was acting up and lecture them all to shut up and listen to Miz Powers. He was NOT happy when he met my dad, Joan’s fiance at the time, when my Dad came to the classroom. But he skeptically gave his approval of the marriage. A couple of years later, my mom saw Floyd on the local news. He was arrested for armed robbery.

Fast forward to 2016. I am tutoring reading at the Portland Public School for homeless children, the Community Transitional School. I tutor two kids for 30 minutes each. Homer is in kindergarten and Maria is in 1st grade. I am sorry to say that Homer is a lost cause. He is a tiny, darling African American little boy who has no attention span, can sort of kind of read a few words. One of my kids couldn’t read in kindergarten but she also had a stable, engaged family and a safe, comfortable life. Homer doesn’t have that and I think society’s ills will win with Homer.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?

Oh my dear little Maria. Maria and I are pals. M is for Maria and for Maggie. I told Maria that my middle name is Mary, “Maria is Spanish for Mary.” Maria told me, “No, Mary is English for Maria.” This little girl is a live wire and she is smart. A couple of days ago, during our 30 minute time together, Maria said, “that word can’t be ‘babies’, baby has a Y in it.” Hurrah Maria! We spent the rest of our time thinking of nouns that end in Y but their plural is ‘ies’. Maria picked up on that, I didn’t point it out to her.

This kid has it goin’ on. She doesn’t want to be too obvious with her smarts but she brings it when it matters. She is the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She is smart. I want to help her progress. A few weeks ago I spoke to the reading program coordinator asking how can I spend more time with Maria? And the coordinator thought that Big Brother/Big Sister would be a good idea. Nope. The school doesn’t have a connection with them. Okay, what about Trillium Family Services? A local Portland non-profit that does amazing work with children and families. Nope.

Unfortunately, CTS, as a school, does not match students with mentors through any programs. There are a number reasons for this. One is that we are not able to extend the same services to each child. It is a matter of equity. We want our families to feel we are providing a service of teaching and helping every child.

 

Are you shitting me?! What if mentoring at CTS caught on?! What if we, the privileged of this country no matter what color, what if we go out and try to save one starfish at a time? What if it’s not fair? There is still good to be done, children to be helped and nurtured, it’s not always fair but it can work.

Must Maria, who is only 7, be lost to the lowest common denominator simply because if she gets extra help, it’s not “fair”?

I was raised by Joan Powers O’Connor and my siblings will remember one of Mom’s favorite lines, “life isn’t fair.”

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Profoundly Resilient

Today is Brigid’s 16th birthday!

It is hard to believe that just four months ago this happened:

crash volvo

Brigid was in the back seat behind the driver.

Here you can see her car door stuck to the grill of the car that hit them.

crash truck

 

We were in the hospital for 10 days.

That's Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

That’s Oregon Health Sciences University up on the hill.

Brigid in her bed, hooked up to tubes and monitors, being poked and prodded.

brigid rm 24

After five days, the pain was so great and the healing so limited that they operated on her and put in a plate to stabilize her pelvis and six screws to hold it in place.

Last week I took Brigid to a see a counselor, believing that any teenager who had been through such a trauma and had her life changed so drastically (missing months of school, not dancing anymore, etc.), might need to work through some of it. Jan, the therapist who I trust and respect, met with me and Brigid for a few and then I left and she and Brigid talked. I came back at the end to be told “Brigid is profoundly resilient.” Jan credits me with staying by her side throughout, the fact that Brigid has no memory of the accident, Brigid knows and accepts that she is deeply loved by family and friends, and Brigid is Brigid. Profoundly resilient.

Yesterday we went to lunch and birthday shopping.

brigid16

“And I got a birthday bracelet from Tiffany!”

I went for a walk in the woods early this morning and thought about Brigid and her 16th birthday. At one point, I was overcome with emotion and gratitude; grateful to God for blessing us with Brigid back in 1999 and again for watching over her the night of the crash in April.

Brigid, I wish for you a long life filled with love for family and friends, quiet kindnesses and raucous celebrations.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl and many many many many more.

EPSON MFP image

I Got that Call

I’m typing this from Brigid’s hospital room. Early Sunday morning, she was in a car going back to her friend’s house from a run to McDonalds. A drunk driver blew through a 4 way stop and t-boned the car. Brigid was in the back seat on the driver’s side and took the bulk of the impact. She has a fractured pelvis which we still don’t know if she will need surgery to stabilize it. In the big picture, she is fine.

She had on her seat belt and because of that, we are in the hospital and not the morgue.

The drunk driver went to jail. I don’t know much other than that. There are no skid marks on the road so he never even thought to stop. Brigid’s friend’s (the driver of the car) mom has pictures of the car that Brigid was in as well as the drunk’s car. I don’t want to see them but I have heard they aren’t pretty.

Please make sure you and everyone you know and love wears a seat belt at all times, front seat or back. Every damn time you are in the car.

 

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Dear Katie,

For my readers who don’t know Katie’s story, please refer back here and here. Katie has been home for a few months and returns to school today. She is still working so hard and has come so far and her reward is a touch of normalcy, she gets to go to school half time for the rest of the year! Go Katie, Go Katie!!!

 

Dear Katie,

What a huge day for you after so many months of struggling and fighting! Congratulations on your return to ol’ LOHS!

I think about you and your family everyday and I am not the only one. Can you believe there are 2083 followers of your Facebook page? And I know the number of people who know and care about your story is much larger. I have friends around the country who know about you and ask me how you are doing and pray for you. There are THOUSANDS of people around the country and around the world who think about you and pray for you and are cheering for you. Isn’t that something? Why do you suppose that is?

Well, yeah there’s the whole interwebs thing, but bigger than that. Why are there literally thousands of people, many of them strangers (unless you know waaaayyy more people than anyone else I know) who know your story?

I have some ideas.

1. You’re a good kid. By all accounts, from my daughter, Annie’s, first encounter with you freshman year — to all the stories I have read in the past six months. You are regarded to be as nice, as kind, and as enthusiastic as your reputation would have us believe. The real deal! When nice people get hurt, other nice people and even not-so-nice people, wish them well and pray to whatever god they believe in for healing. You are young. People want young people to have long, happy lives. I haven’t met you but I can see there is a vibrancy to you that the world needs.

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that's Trina because she doesn't look much older than her girls.)

From left: Katie, sister Annie, and mom Trina (although I am just guessing that’s Trina because she doesn’t look much older than her girls.)

2. Moms. I know there are dads following your progress and praying for you but I am a mom and I will speak to the Mom part of this equation.

Katie's dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed "I love you".  Dad's rock.

Katie’s dad, Dave, the day in December when though in a coma, Katie signed “I love you”. Dad’s rock.

From the moment a mother knows her baby is on the way, she is protecting it. Taking folic acid and eating right and exercising (unless you’re me and then you eat tater tots and ice cream and grow to the size of an NFL lineman). We read to our babies inside us. We plan rooms and buy the right cribs, buy darling little outfits and blankets and little hats to keep the little baby head warm. We make sure the car seat is installed correctly and the baby faces backwards for a year. Katie, moms make sure the house is baby-proofed, that our little people wear bike helmets, and walk on the sidewalk, we practice letters and numbers with our tiny scholars, and make lunches and beds, and apply sunscreen.

Mothers do every single thing we can think of to keep our children safe from bruised knees, broken arms, broken hearts. Unfortunately we can’t control everything and we aren’t meant to. The goal of all this tending to our children is so that they will eventually grow up and take care of themselves. Slowly, children gain more and more independence, from putting their shoes on by themselves, to making their own toast, to walking to school, reading alone, the list goes on and on. We have to let you go out into the world and roll the dice.

And sometimes when you go out into the world horrible things happen.

Katie, this is why there are so many people praying for you and thinking about you daily. Because you are all of our children. There isn’t a mother worth her weight in varicose veins, who doesn’t realize it could have been our child in the accident. You have become a daughter to all of us. Especially to us moms who have teenage daughters, you are the beautiful girl that owns our hearts, who we have to set free.

And your mom is all of us.  We have all cried for your mother, not knowing anything else to do. We know the fear that goes with injury to one of our cubs. Moms can make all the casseroles in the world but that can’t fix an injured child or replace the ferocious love we have for our children. We all feel for your mother and we all thank God everyday that we don’t have to be as strong as she is. And we all know the strength it takes to keep all the balls in the air, the hospital, the house, the doctors, on and on. And there is your sister and your dad, and the mom has to take care of everyone she loves. It’s a big job and we are all so proud of Trina.

lenin mom

3. Renewal. Life is rough. There is so much bad news every damn day. Plane crashes and tornadoes, politics and business, it can all be so overwhelming.  In the midst of the 24-hour news cycle madness, life can still get through to us. At the most unexpected times, in the most unexpected ways, life brings renewal and hope and awareness of a much larger picture. The spiritual journey that we have traveled with you through a Facebook page has been uplifting and uniting. I’m Catholic and have a deep faith but as a Catholic, I’m not much of a bible reader. If I need to know it, it’s probably in the missal 🙂 I have read some beautiful passages from the Bible on your Facebook page, most I have never read before. Those passages have lifted my spirit, as I hope they have lifted yours.

Your life these past almost six months has inspired thousands to remember what is really important during our time in this world, that can all too often be much too short. You, Miss Katie, are a miracle. Not just for being on this planet today and walking (!) into school today but because you have shown thousands of people what true character and might look like. You have reminded us to love our children and our parents.

I hope to meet you and your family soon. You have all had a great impact on me, on my parenting and on my faith.

In advance, please excuse me if I completely fall apart when I finally lay eyes on you. I’m like that.

Happy Friday Miss Katie!

xoxox

Maggie

 

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Parenting Disclosures from my Childhood

I am happy to report that three days in, the new rules at my house are still working. No one has missed the Volvo bus to school. The girls understood the situation that while I was really upset on Sunday, this is not a punishment but more a reorganization. Thank you all for your comments, FB comments, and emails regarding this issue. I always appreciate hearing from friends, old and new, and I was happy to know I wasn’t alone with my beautiful monsters.

Mitch and I had lunch yesterday to discuss the girls, the new normal, summer jobs, etc. And we are on the same page with everything, he really never had morning issues with them so he doesn’t need to make changes in that area. We agreed that we bear much of the responsibility for the girls’ behavior. We both have tended to just do things ourselves because it is easier. This eruption has been years in the making but we have not wanted to deal with it.

Before we even had kids, Mitch was pointing out that some of my child rearing principles might be a bit off. I assured him that he was most definitely wrong and the way my parents did it was absolutely correct.

So here is some background on how I was raised.

My mother did everything. Everything. There are four kids in my family: me, John (16 months younger), Katie and Molly (twins 6 years younger than I am). One dad and usually two dogs. My mother got up at 5 a.m. just to have some time to herself with coffee, cigarette and her reading material for the day. Her reading material wasn’t the newspaper, it was all the notes left on the stove by her children the night before.

“Mom, Could you please hem these jeans so I can wear them tomorrow? Thanks!”

“Mom, please type this paper for me, it’s due 3rd period and has to be double spaced.” No computers back then.

“Mom, can I have only carrots and crackers in my lunch today?”

“Mom, can you iron this for me?”

Not kidding.

My mother in 1973 when she had an 8 year old, 7 year old and twin 2 year olds.

My mother in 1973 when she had an 8 year old, 7 year old and twin 2 year olds.

My mother taught me how to do laundry the summer before I went to college, which ruined the gig for my sisters because my mom realized the monster she had created.

I didn’t use an alarm clock till I went away to college. My mother would wake me up every morning, sitting on my bed and saying, “Maggie, now is the hour.” During my mother’s annual trips back east to visit her family, we would be left alone with my father which was terrifying on many levels. First of all, he didn’t know how to properly wake us up and would just walk down the hall pounding on doors and barking, “Get up!” He didn’t buy much at the grocery store other than canned soup and ice cream, although he did buy just about every flavor of both. So we had it pretty rough when mom was gone.

Come to think of it, I can’t remember how I took my Tetracycline for my acne when my mom was out of town. Mom and I had it down to a science. I had to take the medication an hour before I ate anything, which was tough because I like to eat as soon as I get up so we worked out a system.

How to give teenage Maggie medication:

  1. Enter her room quietly around 5 a.m. holding one Tetracycline pill and a glass of water.
  2. Gently nudge Maggie awake.
  3. Maggie will hold out her hand.
  4. Place pill in Maggie’s hand.
  5. Maggie will put pill in her mouth and hold out her hand again.
  6. Place glass of water in Maggie’s hand.
  7. Maggie will swallow the pill with a gulp of water and hand the glass back.
  8. Quietly leave Maggie’s room. Return in an hour to wake her for school.

If all goes as it should, Maggie will not have ever opened her eyes.

I don’t know how I wound up spoiling my children.

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An Open Letter to My Daughters

Dear Annie and Brigid,

Your nonchalant refusal to take me up on my invitation yesterday to join me on my trip to the cemetery to take flowers to my parents was completely thoughtless, showing that you have hit new lows in self-indulgent, inconsiderate behavior. You were not only disrespectful to me, you were disrespectful to my parents, your grandparents.

Please let me remind you that BaBa and MéMé were caring for you, in Annie’s case, when you were just a couple of weeks old. My mother was my daycare until you were six months old. Who do you think was funding the weeks in Gearhart and Palm Springs when you were little kids? Who do you think bought the tickets for the first TWO Broadway musicals you saw? Who was paying for Waverley Country Club so you could swim and have people bring you popcorn and lemonade and anything else you wanted? My parents adored you two, nothing made them happier than having you around.

And you two couldn’t take less than an hour out of your busy, busy Easter Sunday to accompany me to pay your respects to two people who definitely deserve them.

winechildren

You two have heard me comment more than once, if you want to understand children’s bad behavior you need only look at the parents. I am a lot of things but I hope to never be hypocritical so since your refusal to join me yesterday, I have been thinking about you both and how your father and I have raised you. You are both polite, charming, kind people. I have never once had a complaint from a friend, family member, another parent or teacher about your behavior. So that’s all good.

Unfortunately, dad and I have clearly not instilled in you a sense of respect for your parents and family. You have been overly-indulged and catered to. So I gotta fix that.

As I told you yesterday, I will no longer be waking you up or concerning myself with whether or not you have breakfast or lunch. You are 14 and 16, you can handle that yourselves. On regular days, I will be in the car at 7:15. On late opening days, I will be in the car at 9:05. If you are in the car, I will take you to school. If you are not, you’re on your own. Any tardies or absences are on you and will go unexcused by me. Once Annie has her license, you will be entirely on your own in the morning.

You will be making dinner on Tuesday nights from now on. You will plan the menu, make it, serve it and clean up. Let me know what groceries you need (for this and anything else) and I will get them.

You will be expected to feed the animals, clean and sweep the litter box area, and load/unload the dishwasher, clean the kitchen and keep the big room downstairs and your bathroom clean. Every. Day. What you do with your rooms, is your business but the common area must be clean. I will no longer do your laundry and that includes your bedding.

c-section-meme

Here’s the big one….Summer employment. I suggest you start now and get summer jobs. If you do not, I will get them for you. This means applying at parks and rec, country clubs, retail although that may be tough with your ages. Camp Counselors. Oregon Humane Society. Dove Lewis. Habitat. If you need ideas, I can help you. But make no mistake, you two are not spending the summer sleeping and hanging out with your friends. I started working 40 hours a week the summer before I entered high school. I have been remiss in requiring you to work. It builds character and apparently you two are in need of that.

I think you both know that I am your biggest supporter and have worked hard to ensure you are happy and have nice lives. I have gone overboard and need to make some adjustments. It is embarrassing to write this as I’m sure some people are going to be thinking “what the hell is she doing?” And I’m embarrassed for both of you.

This one left a mark but ultimately I believe we will all be the better for it.

Much love,

Mom

 

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Shame on you Paw My Gosh

Do you follow Paw My Gosh on Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or Tumblr or whatever the hell other place there is for following things? Paw My Gosh is one of those websites with cute dog pictures and stories and videos about darling animals and the wonderful things they do. Up until last week, I followed Paw My Gosh on Facebook so I could enjoy pictures of puppies and bunnies. Unfortunately, Paw My Gosh posted something which I found absolutely despicable and I had to unfollow them.

The title of the offending post, which you can see here, read: “A Hero and a Coward”. The story took place in rural Argentina. A 14-year-old girl (that is all the detail given regarding the girl, she is 14) abandoned her newborn baby. A dog, who had a litter of her own, dragged the baby back into her little hideout, where the baby was eventually found by someone who heard his crying. The dog is the hero. The 14-year-old girl is the coward.

No back story. The 14-year-old child in the Argentinian countryside is a coward.

Was she raped?

Is she developmentally disabled?

Where are her parents? Where are any adults?

No story, she’s just a coward.

I was disgusted that Paw My Gosh called a child in this situation a “coward” and I posted as much in the comments. I also said I was unfollowing them because of it. I know, like they care but still, it’s a matter of principle.

I unfollowed Paw My Gosh, however I continued to receive notifications of responses to my comment. It soon became clear that people thought I was calling the girl a coward, which I would NEVER do. You may ask, “Maggie, why would they think you were calling the girl a coward?” I’ll tell you why, because Paw My Gosh changed the title to the post after I, and many others, wrote that we were appalled at the use of the word “coward” to describe a 14-year-old giving birth out in the countryside in Argentina and abandoning the baby. (I’m not saying that is a good thing to do, but clearly there is more to the story.) Anyway, people were confused because they couldn’t see the original title “A Hero and a Coward” so they attributed the name calling to me.

I was sickened by the number of comments cheering the dog for being so “humane” and condemning the 14-year-old girl. The dog acted on instinct, that’s what dogs do. I’m a big fan of dogs. I have rescue dogs (and cats). You know what I love more than dogs? Children. Human children. Commenters were flipping out about who was caring for the dog, what about the dog, help the dog!!! What about the child who had a baby? Is anyone concerned about what the hell is going on there? Is anyone trying to help that kid who is clearly in desperate need of assistance and as I mentioned, is a human being? I don’t know the answer to that because Paw My Gosh did not see fit to provide any information other than a 14-year-old Coward abandoned her baby.

I also noticed that a post which had had more than 100 comments, suddenly had about half that many.  Comments are missing, including my initial comment which ended with Unfollow.

Paw My Gosh labeled a child in distress a “coward”. Then, when there was justifiable push back from their audience, they removed the word and deleted all the critical comments.

Paw My Gosh, please explain this. Please clarify who is the COWARD? The frightened 14-year-old child, living in a Catholic, 2nd world country (at best), who abandoned her baby? Or your staff who didn’t even have the balls to apologize but instead quietly took down the offensive word and deleted the comments calling them out for an egregious lack of human compassion?  We have no idea why the girl did what she did or that she even realized the consequences of her actions. For God’s sake, she gave birth to a baby alone outside!

As has been seen on this blog, I have had to take the backlash for what I have written. I didn’t go back and edit the contents of the original post. I didn’t delete comments critical of me and my writing. I owned it and that isn’t always easy. It’s not as hard as being a child, alone in a field giving birth and abandoning the baby but it’s mildly unpleasant.

I wouldn’t be as furious as I am, if Paw My Gosh had just taken the heat and left the post and the comments alone. But they didn’t.

So Paw My Gosh, why don’t you grow a pair and own what you wrote?

Cowards.

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So, What’s in Store for 2014?

meds

Do you make New Year’s Revolutions? I do, sometimes. I love the years when my resolution is to do more crossword puzzles and bam! I do it and I have stayed true to my word. Then there are the boring new year’s resolutions….diet, alcohol, exercise, smoking, etc. Those are the UnHoly Quadrangle of failed New Year’s Revolutions. I’m going to ignore them this year and resolve to keep track of all the books I read in 2014.

I am also hereby resolving to not fall down so much. I fell three times in the last two months of the year and I think that has to stop.  The first time I fell in the driveway. I stepped on my shoe lace and couldn’t recover my balance and I fell down and got a scrape on my knee! The second one was a wine-induced embarrassment. The 3rd and final one and the second which had NOTHING to do with wine was getting out of bed and stepping on the dog and going down hard. He barely moved. Now this update: I was just JUST walking down the stairs to go get something for lunch and my knee cracked and I almost FELL DOWN. Holy brittle bones, I’m going to be an old lady with a broken hip and a diaper on.

Not what I look like when I fall down.

Not what I look like when I fall down.

2014 New Years Revolutions:

  1. Record all books read over the course of the year. Currently reading “The Book Thief”.
  2. Stop falling down. Perhaps tie yoga into this somehow. But I don’t want to over-commit.

Other areas in need of resolution:

Career

I know the point of sending out the letters to every employee detailing what we made and what the company paid in benefits is intended to make employees grateful to know what our entire employment “package” is; but in reality, it’s just depressing. It’s nice that my employer pays for my insurance and I have good coverage and that really is why I’m working is to have health coverage. And I put away money in a 401k for retirement. I think I have enough saved up to rent a room from a friend and contribute to the grocery bill and maybe buy a hot plate, so I’ll be fine.

I’m going to be 49, I have a college degree and a brain, which is horribly underutilized, as I have endlessly bitched about here in this very blog.

I have these post it notes on my desk at work.

I have these post it notes on my desk at work.

I am meeting with a friend and colleague in January to do some brainstorming on how to get more non-profit project work since that is what makes me happy and where my expertise lies. I think I am well-positioned to take over all of the procurement for an event that I’m currently working on and that would be equal to about half of what I make at my stoopid office job just in one project!

Family

Family life is good, solid good. Except for the fact that my kids hate their high school, my 16-year-old and I bicker a lot and we need to integrate Derwood’s daughter into the mix.

My freshman year in high school I went to St. Mary’s Academy, an all girls school in downtown Portland. I hated it. Not because there were no boys but because the girls were bitches. Just B.I.T.C.H.E.S. After 6 weeks or 3 weeks or 4 days, my parents let me leave SMA and return to my hometown high school. This is how I feel for Brigid. She’s a freshman at a school she hates and I’m not going to make her suffer through three more years of a friendless existence so if she wants to transfer to her Portland high school, I’ll let her.

As for my junior in high school….It’s one more year. She has friends. Here’s my issue….plenty of teenagers throughout history have hated high school. Being a teenager is a pain in the ass. Hormones are literally making teens’ brain chemistry insane. I firmly believe that if a person’s high school years are the best of their lives, they are doing life wrong. No one should peak at 17.

For those of us who grew up prior to the 1980s, we didn’t have therapy. If you were miserable just suck it up. Life is hard and no one guaranteed anyone happiness or a rose garden. Am I just the heartless mother? I understand and empathize/sympathize whatever the “thize” is that I should be doing. I was a nightmare in high school. I was a crazy, hysterical teenager. That’s life.  But this current reliance on therapy and meds for every little twitch of angst is silly.

That being said, I do take Prozac (full disclosure). I guess I’m a hypocrite but I take it for anxiety. If I don’t take it, I constantly feel like I have left the iron on which can be distracting.

I saw a comedian on TV last week who was doing a bit on how the U.S. is over-medicated. We never heard about men on landing crafts on June 6, 1944 saying, “I’m a little anxious. Could you just give me a pill for the anxiety?”

hahahaha OK. I’m an asshole because I’m railing against exactly what I am doing. Fine, Annie can go to therapy. Probably good because she and I don’t get far in our discussions.

mother-insanity-usa-modern-family-ecards-someecardsParenting teenagers is hard. I so want them to be happy but I know they have to go through their own piles of crap to move on to the next chapter. The next chapters are much more exciting.

As for the integortion of Q into our daily lives. This may stun some of you but her mother doesn’t want her to be gone three days in a row. What?! I can’t imagine not wanting that alone time.  So there are some bumps in the road on that front but I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to stick my nose into that discussion. Any 2nd, 3rd marriage folks out there with experience in this area? Any advice?

Happy New Year from the O’Behrenson’s!

Back: Mitch and Derwood Front: (l to r) me, Brigid, Q, Annie, Nat (Derwood's first wife)

Back: Mitch and Derwood
Front: (l to r) me, Brigid, Q, Annie, Nat (Derwood’s first wife)

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The Miracle of Elephant Eating

How do you eat an elephant?

You know, because an elephant is really, really big and could weigh up to 12,000 lbs, so it would be really tough to plan an eating strategery. I doubt anyone would want to eat a real live elephant so let’s instead ask, “how do you eat a 12,000 pound elephant cookie?’ Let’s say, you are a 120 lb girl and you want to eat a 12,000 pound elephant cookie, a cookie that weighs 100 times what you do. That’s a big job. How do you tackle something so daunting?

Photo courtesy Pinterest.

Prettiest Elephant Cookie Ever. Photo courtesy Pinterest.

The answer: one bite at a time.

That question has been the theme of Katie’s recovery. Katie, my daughter’s friend, who was in a serious car accident the night of November 15. Please see here and here.  Katie is in the process of eating the elephant cookie, of recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

Because I am old and jaded and have seen enough, I get very nervous when there are no Katie updates. The silence scares me. The first update was that Katie was being put into a medically-induced coma to help with the swelling in her brain. What concerned me was what wasn’t being said. Every time I expressed the slightest doubt or concern, Annie (my daughter) would tell me “She’s going to be fine. Why are you looking on the dark side?” OK. I will continue to think good thoughts and have faith that Miss Katie will recover.

She had surgery on her pelvis and bladder. She had a feeding tube put in and a tracheotomy so she could breath without an apparatus on her face.  Bite, bite, chew, chew, bite and bite.  There goes a bit off the elephant cookie’s ear.

Everyone continues praying and thinking good thoughts and sending positive energy, wrapping Katie and her sister and parents in love and support. Katie is taken off the coma-inducing meds but stays in a coma of her own making. Her brain is in charge now and it has decided that her energy must be focused inward so she will be staying inside for the time being.

Katie moved her fingers. Not a lot but she did.

Katie opened her eyes. She did not awake, but she opens her eyes.

Chomp, Chomp….

Katie is moved from the Trauma ICU floor to the Trauma floor of the hospital.

CHOMP!

The next benchmark is for Katie’s eyes to track. I suppose that means to follow movement. I think she has begun to do that.

Then yesterday there came this update:

Katie has taken another bite of the elephant! Yesterday, Katie gave us a gift! Her father was doing PT on Katie’s legs and she was looking right at him. He gave Katie the “I Love You” hand sign that he has given her nightly since she was a baby. Katie lifted her right hand and returned the “I Love You” sign! We haven’t seen anything else from Katie since yesterday, but SHE IS IN THERE!
Katie is still in a coma, but she continues to take small steps forward in her recovery marathon. We are asking for prayers for Katie’s nose to clear so she can continue to breathe with ease. Please pray to help her brain continue to heal. Katie is making baby steps toward tracking with her eyes and we are patiently hopeful that Katie will start following simple commands. Pray for Katie to awaken from her coma.

This is the season of hustle and bustle and shopping and cooking and partying. I remember when I used to have Christmas lists that were as long as my arm but as I have aged and had kids, I can’t think of anything that I want for Christmas. I know that is a hassle for people who ask me what I want but anything or nothing is fine with me, I don’t need a thing.  With all the bustle of the season, it is easy to forget that for many Christmas time is the season of miracles.  On December 25, those who believe celebrate a miracle. A miraculous gift of life and love in the birth of Jesus Christ. But there are miracles every day. Some as small as the twitch of a finger and others as large as the movement of a hand. Miracles.

I can’t imagine being Katie’s dad yesterday. I would imagine that December 10, 2013 is the best day of his life probably even better than the day Katie was born because she let him know she’s in there!!! She is not lost. What a gift. What a miracle. What a heartwarming, heartfilling reminder of what is most important in this life.

And because it is one of my most favorite Christmas minutes.

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