Three Days

A picture is worth the proverbial thousand words—and that’s a good thing.

Because though I have written thousands since 23 July 2014, I am not quite ready to share them all.

So, in the interim, these will suffice.

A reunion for some, the start of something for others.

Delirious, joyful, and entrancing.

Thirteen years in the making.

And hearts fuller and more grateful than could ever have been imagined.

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On ADDitude Today

It was an innocent enough question from my oldest son: “Mom, why do you have to take pills for your high blood pressure every day?”

I wasn’t caught off-guard, and I didn’t feel defensive. Instead, I explained the genetic hand I had been dealt and how, despite my best efforts, managing it myself had proved ineffectual.

However, I wasn’t prepared for his response: “That means if you had lived, say, a hundred years ago, before high blood pressure pills had been invented, you might have already had a heart attack and died?”

Please read the rest here on ADDitude . . . Thank you!

Miles Still to Go

It happened again today.  And perhaps it wouldn’t have been so bad if this had been the first, second, even third instance.  But it’s not.  We’re well into double-digits now.  And each time my disgust is amplified and the sting worsens.

Our family had experienced poor customer service at a nearby business recently . . . actually, a series of episodes of poor customer service.  To tell the entire tale required a lengthy email; and on behalf of my husband and me, since he was at work and I was at home, I wrote it.  It took me slightly more than an hour to compose the correspondence—a letter that was well-worded, compelling, and still courteous despite our frustration.  I sent it last Monday to the General Manager of the corporation.

male femaleThere was no response or even an acknowledgment on Tuesday or Wednesday; so on Wednesday afternoon I followed up with a polite request, inquiring as to when we might expect a reply.  I addressed the General Manager by his title (“Mr.”) followed by his last name.  He addressed me as “Samantha.”

I let that go and read his message . . . that he was meeting with his team to review the situation and would be back in touch.  I thanked him and heard nothing more on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday.

Last night my husband wrote an email.

My husband is a male—lest that detail slip by.

Within hours of his email we had a lengthy reply, a concrete solution . . . and the email to my husband was addressed to “Mr. Farias.” I was not included in the salutation.  I was not copied in on the email.

Apparently, the men were taking care of this, and I no longer existed.

And before I launch into a diatribe about men and women and lingering, pathetic gender roles that persist in 2014, let me reiterate this is not the first time this has happened to me.  Countless times I have made calls or written emails—to have work done on our home, to get estimates, to compare quotes—and no reply is forthcoming until my husband picks up the phone and leaves a message an octave lower than mine or taps the keyboard and signs the missive with a masculine name.

Every time it happens it is as obvious as it is egregious, and to say it inspires rage is an understatement.

I can recite my accomplishments, academic and otherwise; sing my praises as a communicator and generally reasonable human being; share my bank balance and the number of dollars I have to spend. But none of that matters.  In some instances, with some businesses, with some people, all that matters is that I am female—or, more aptly, that I am not male.

IMG_2817I thought it would be better for them, but it’s not.

In 2014 this is still our reality.

My children’s reality.

My sons’ and your sons’ and daughters’ very sad, very real reality.

Rubber Lizards, Armpit-Smelling, and Cookie Monster’s Butt

As one who loves words and enjoys stringing them together to create semblances of coherent thoughts, I am always on the hunt for sentences I like to characterize as “those that have never before been uttered.”

Of course, the very small logical part of my brain accedes that the chances of a sentence never before having been uttered are rather slim, but the sporty English teacher in me likes to entertain the possibilities.

And with that I present to you for your weekend entertainment fifteen sentences I have said over the last week-and-a-half I believe have never been spoken, written, or—dare I say—even thought of before.

You can correct me if I’m wrong . . . but I’ll need context.

Mother's Day PhotoFor me, of course, these are all responses to something one of my three children said or did.  I’ll let your imaginations fill in the rest.

Does anyone know why there is a rubber lizard in the toilet paper roll?

Your dirty socks should be nowhere near an open bag of potato chips.

No, you cannot have a plate of bugs and/or garbage for breakfast.

You do not need to be in college to put on your underwear.

Please take that cow off my head.

You are the stuffed bear’s father and your brother is its uncle, so please stop fighting.

Weeping because we’re not having Indian food for dinner seems unnecessary.

You are not going to self-destruct because I won’t buy you a corn muffin.

I can’t come in and smell your armpits; I’m in the middle of making tacos.

No, I did not go to college with Buddha.

Get out of the bathroom with that pizza.

Yes, I’m sure Cookie Monster does have a butt.

Can you tell me precisely when there was a chicken running through our house?

Squidward and Buddha are not a married couple.

Do you keep a steady supply of snakes just to torture me?

Have a great weekend!


Under Pressure

Though my sons are still under five feet tall and haven’t even yet stomped through the halls of middle school, I am and remain consciously and constantly aware I am raising three future men.

I think a lot about the boys they are and the men they’ll become; and though I do not have a crystal ball in any sense of the word, I think a lot about how behaviors today might manifest as patterns and habits later—and which of those will be palatable to a future partner and which most assuredly won’t.

This might be the reason I do my best not to overreact or melt into a puddle of excessive maternal sympathy with every sniffle, why I am grateful my sons have each other and are forced to encounter and negotiate compromise on a daily basis.

Of course this has occasionally backfired.  When my oldest told me in first grade his ears hurt in what I thought then was an attempt to dodge a day at school, I told him he would be fine and to eat his oatmeal.  I turned to rinse some dishes and the next thing I heard was “Mom, why are my ears wet?”  Blood.  Ruptured ear drums.  And clearly no Mother of the Year trophy for me.

But for the most part I feel I’ll be able to look my future in-laws in the eye and honestly say I did my best.

However, sometimes it’s not always as clear cut as teaching my sons to clean the bathroom or how to fold their own laundry.

Sometimes it’s bigger and way more complicated.

IMG_6652My soon-to-be-ten-year-old has taken lately to following me around the house, asking where I am going, what I am doing.  When I go out, he wants to know what time I will be home—precisely.

Initially I bucked his inquiries, told him he was safe and fine but that he can’t expect people (read future partners) to answer to him for every move, that he needs to trust people and to give them space.

Nothing abated and in fact got worse.  I probed further.  He said he was afraid to be alone and worried about intruders.  We talked about statistics and how my being in the laundry room when he was in the living room did not render him alone.

His level of stress only continued to escalate.  If I was out of sight, he stopped everything he was doing—reading, watching a favorite program, playing a videogame—and ran through the house.  It was intense, and it was sad.

I decided then to start accounting to him—against everything in me.  If I was going upstairs to brush my teeth, I told him.  I told him where I was going, what I was doing, and how long I’d be gone.  Precisely.  The pain he experienced when he didn’t see me—whether for the reasons he had articulated or something else—was real, and, as his mother, if I could alleviate it, I had to.

So I did.

I stopped asking him and put a bandage on it until it naturally unfurled.

And last night it did.

“Mom, what are the symptoms of a heart attack?”

I didn’t know if this was the future scientist in him or just the curious young boy, but I told him.

Then, “Can you live after a heart attack?”

I told him people do live and sometimes they don’t.  He immediately wanted to know how to ensure the former.

And then it clicked.  He knows my mother died of a heart attack, that both my brother and my father have had significant cardiac issues.

“Mom, what if you’re in another room and have a heart attack?” 

Little by little I tried to lift the weight he’s been carrying on his very young shoulders—letting him know I don’t smoke and never will, that my doctor monitors my blood pressure incredibly closely, that I have submitted to a daily medical regimen and am incredibly responsible in its administration, that I plan to be here for a very, very long time.

“You know, Mom, that’s why I follow you around.  It’s not because I’m trying to be controlling.  I would never do that to you or to anyone.  I just love you.”

And, oh, my heart, I just love you, too.