76 Balloons!

76 Balloons!

Happy Birthday, Dad.  Go Bucks!

Happy Birthday, Dad. Go Bucks!

 

August 6, 2015.  Today my Dad would have been 76!  He passed away after a brief, brutal illness when he was 68.  Gone, never forgotten.

As the Big Brothers continues to grow into a young man, I notice more ways he reminds me of my Dad.  As I said in this blog post a couple of years ago, they are Subtle Ways.

I can hear his voice in my head, it was deep and smooth.  Unless you screwed up big and then he had a yell that stopped you in your tracks and brought you to immediate tears.  In retrospect he was a quiet guy. In a large group his words were sometimes few but to the point.  He didn’t need to raise his voice because he could change your behavior with one quietly spoken phrase, “I’m really disappointed in you.”  I pretty much dreaded hearing those words.  Thus, it was excellent motivation to shape up!

He was also the original life-coach.  With one speech he made you believe in the power of your permanent record, holy days of obligation and the parent teacher conference for slight of grades and heaven forbid, bad behavior.  You dress for church,  don’t lean your rear-end on the pew when kneeling during mass, you don’t leave before the closing prayer and you better put something in the collection basket or he would nudge you with it.  Through the power of his persuasive speech you believed you ate well for “poor people”, children in another country would be  glad to have what you did, you had nothing to whine,  cry or complain about and the ultimate Life Coach statement that has me unable to throw in the towel, “He did not raise a whiner, quitter or complainer!”

At 49 I still hear that motivational speech in my head.  With some fear and trepidation I just registered for my first class to earn my Masters Degree.  I can hear him saying, “just do it, Ames, you’ll be fine.”  Just wish I could hear him say in the end, “Aw, I’m proud of you, Ames.”

Happy Birthday, Dad!

 

Part Two

microblogGrief splits your life into two parts.  Before and after. I was looking at a picture of The Captain and I from a baby shower my neighborhood had right before Madeline was born.   I look at the picture and I think, look how relaxed we look and there is a  sparkle in our eyes.   There was worry as we knew we faced many challenges but we had something precious, hope.  Therein lies the root of such sorrow… lost hope.

If Only

microblog

A year of milestones.  Some bittersweet and exciting to witness.  Others, heartbreaking and overwhelming.  The realization that the baby girl I grieve for would now be a little girl, ready for Kindergarten. I long for what might have been.  The first day picture that will never be.  While I grieve her absence I attempt to hold on with all of my might so as not to miss a minute of the boys who bless my life.  High school, middle school and kindergarten.  What a year it would have been, if only.

That Word

Today, March 5, 2014, is the day to Spread the Word to End the Word.  Below is a post I wrote last May after a painful experience right here in my local, “educated” community.  Before you speak Think, Is it kind, is it true, is it necessary.  What one may think is a casual, harmless comment may make one who longs for the presence of their Baby Girl feel a moment of gratitude that she never has to experience such hatred, ignorance and ugliness.  Spread the Word!

 

There are many a day that I think I, perhaps, am no longer fit to mill about with the general population on a day-to-day basis.  A certain tolerance seems to be required that I am pretty sure, I no longer possess.

I try hard to remember that I have endured life events that may make me extremely sensitive to day to day happenings and random interactions with friends and strangers.  I also know that as sensitive as I might be,  is as insensitive and callous as others behave.

To add to my dumbfounded state, is that we live in a society that is all about being “PC.”  We all know that many derogatory names, sadly, can be used to describe various groups of people.  And I would like to assume that none of these names are used in this day and age… but that would be both foolish and ignorant.  However, you generally don’t hear these words bellowed at random places where families gather.

But there is a population that does not seem to always be worthy of such sensitive and “PC” protection and it both breaks my heart and makes me physically ill.  In this day and age, why?  I ask you, WHY? does it seem to be perfectly acceptable for a grown woman to bellow, “I can’t believe my check is the wrong amount, I’M SOOO RETARDED!”

I felt my blood go cold and my stomach flip.  This was my pool.  This was a lady I would  possibly be seeing on a daily basis.  I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted to PUNCH HER IN THE FACE.  But I didn’t…and I don’t know why.

So I plead you, Dear Reader, to explain to me, why?  WHY?  I am the one that gets the stare down when I composed myself and responded, “Don’t use THAT word, it is really very offensive.”  Que long uncomfortable stares.  Luckily, thanks to my circus act, I am used to being stared at.  Cause that’s RIGHT…I AM the one they stared at.

I even looked the “word” up in the dictionary.  I had to read through two entries that stated, “retarded child.”  One that is “retarded.”

The third entry down I found this definition for “retarded”:   to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action,process, etc.); hinder or impede.  

Never a mention of not having the ability, just that it might be delayed.  And guess what…IT MIGHT NOT!  Children with “developmental or cognitive delays” are extremely capable.  Capable of overcoming what others might see as limitations.  My experience is limited to Down Syndrome and Autism.  Both Madeline and Johnny amaze me with what they were able to overcome and what Johnny continues to achieve on a daily basis.  While delayed in some areas, Johnny’s first pre-school teacher said it best…”no one ever said Johnny is NOT SMART.”  And they never said it about Madeline either.

Shaking off that interaction has sucked my energy and sent my spirit plummeting.  For my Sweet Madeline, whom I ache for every day, I had a moment where I actually thought, “Thank God, she will never experience such ugliness and ignorance.”  And then I cried.  Because I would give anything to have Madeline here and be able to continue to experience all the ways she would charm and delight us.  

I am just so sad to know that in others eyes her life might have been viewed as less valued and unworthy.  And now she is forever protected from such hate in her heavenly home where I am sure she is delighting all that gaze upon her.  But that she had to leave us to escape such ugliness has sent me in a tailspin and I can’t seem to find my way out.

And now I feel sad for “that lady.”  (And I don’t want to.)  Because perhaps she will never know the value of every life.  She might not have a Madeline or a Johnny to bring joy to her heart and a smile to her face.  Does that make her “delayed?…I don’t know…but IGNORANT…yep, I think that’s THE WORD.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Girl

Fall is proving to be a difficult time of year.  I love the gilded sky and the crisp air.  The leaves crunching under my feet as I continue to run to staff off so many mixed emotions.

The calendar ticks off yet another year.  Another year without our Sweet Baby Girl.  November 2.  That date screams at me from the calendar.  It has been 3 years now.  Madeline has been gone from this life twice as long as she graced our presence.  Sixteen months that completely altered my 47 years and forever changed my mind and heart.  The time that is supposed to “heal all wounds” does not exist.  That time simply passes as I continue to search for comfort while forging a new path.

Madeline would be 4 years old now.  As the holidays approach it is painful to watch all that I perceive I am missing, as well as my family.  I watch the Big Brother play with the neighbor kids who are that age.  He is a gentle giant and I ache for all that he could have had with his baby sister whom he adored.  It touches my heart to see that in all of his adolescent craziness his screen saver, on the electronics I despise, is a photo of his sister.  He wants to go to a high school that is an inconvenient drive.  One reason, “Mom, they have kids there that have Down Syndrome, and they are really cool.”  So, you have probably already guessed who is going to be driving a lot.

The Little Brother struggles with all of these emotions that he can’t understand or control.  We have been told he is, “academically gifted”.  I just want him to get through a day at school without melting down.

Johnny is a classic case of still waters running deep.  He is acutely aware of his own sadness.  There was a memorial service at church for all those in our parish on “All Souls Day.”  He didn’t want to go.  I said, “it will be a nice time to remember Madeline.” He said, “I remember her all the time.  It makes me too sad.”  Me to, Johnny, me to.

Life continues, despite such loss, that is the cruel irony.  I have a job that I never thought I would have.  I teach middle school reading.  180 new children who have endeared themselves to me.  Without Madeline’s lessons I would probably not have the patience for this.  The irony, if she was here, I would not being doing this.

As I look at the remaining leaves on a wet fall morning, I have bittersweet memories of a similar view from a hospital window.  A hospital I couldn’t wait to leave but long for the time that room was filled with a Sweet Baby Girl.

Exactly a year ago I wrote Gilded Tears.  I still pray for a  crisp fall morning in a gilded sky with my Sweet Baby Girl.

 

Blessed are the Meek: 3:21

I originally wrote this post in 2013.  It all still applies.  Except now it has been over 5 years since our Madeline was called home.  I still ask why?  I still wonder, what if, what if?  The hardest question to answer is still, “How many children do you have?”  or “So, you have all boys?”  They are everyday questions that cause my heart to plummet.  Our family continues to struggle with grief.  I go on, sometimes with lead boots, but go I do.   Her presence is still missed and longed for.  She never weighed more than 16 pounds but had a huge personality and a smile that melted every heart.

It is World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, 2016.  Funny, when I first learned my baby would have Down Syndrome I was scared and devastated.  Social workers came in at her birth to see how I was coping.  Now she is gone, and no Social Worker was/or has  ever called.    There is no preparing for life without your child.  On this day I remember that our Precious Baby Girl was more than Down Syndrome.  She was a daughter, beloved sister, granddaughter, niece, and cousin.  Like all children with Down Syndrome, it did not define her.  It was part of her.  Down Syndrome added to our life, it did not take away.  Please remember this Dear Reader, any child is not defined by their label but by the love they bring and the lessons they teach.  If you are lucky to receive such lessons, consider yourself Blessed.  “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

 

 

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Madeline – Rockin that Extra Chromosome!

(It is October, Down Syndrome Awareness month. In case you are wondering, blue and gold is the color of the ribbon to be aware. I don’t need a ribbon to be aware. The heaviness in my heart and footsteps is a constant reminder. A reminder that even after almost three years, Madeline’s presence continues to leave a void in my life, and the life of my family. I started a new full-time teaching job, it does not dim her memory or ease my heart. I don’t know why, but although I really do like my job, more often than not I think, “I’m only at this job, because Madeline is gone.” Her photo is on my desk and her smile keeps me going throughout the day. So, I am aware, aware of Down Syndrome, aware of the joy it brought into my life and the lessons never to be forgotten.

Below is a post I wrote almost a year ago for “Down Syndrome Day.” I just wanted to share. I want you, Dear Reader, to read and know the value of all life and the next time a child or anyone with Down Syndrome causes you to turn your head, I hope it is with awe and wonder of the joy and love that person has brought into the world.)

I have been doing some lurking around the Down Syndrome Community.  Funny, that I feel the need to lurk.  So many emotions…the heavy hearted longing and wishing that things were different.  That I to could share pictures of Madeline rocking her extra chromosome and discuss the triumph of her hitting her milestones.  What I wouldn’t give for a video of her first steps or first words.   I see the photos of the other children and I can stare for hours.  Sometimes they make me smile.  And other times the tears silently flow.

I have a dear friend with a little girl, Ms. O.  Ms. O and Madeline would have been the same age.  Ms. O’s Mommy asked me once how I felt when I saw Ms. O.  I told her, ” I feel insanely jealous”, not in a hateful way, but in a way of wishing that I could be just like you.  A jealousy that perhaps only a mother of a child with DS would understand.   That instead of me going through hoops to get that Little O to hug me, my own Madeline could be here to warm my heart with snuggles and slobber me with kisses.

Do I still belong to that community?  I don’t know.  But do I care about that community?  WITHOUT A DOUBT.  When I see the other babies and children I think how lucky their family is.  Lucky to be blessed with this incredible person.  I know these families might think I “romanticize” what life would be like with Madeline.  Maybe I do.  I remember it was a lot of work.  Lot’s of appointments, hospitals and therapists.  It was exhausting but the pay off was beyond huge.  One cannot put a price tag on unconditional love.  Giving Madeline life and making that life full of unconditional love and unlimited possibilities.  She was strong in mind and body.  If her body was weak her Spirit was not.

That is what I see in the Down Syndrome Community.  Strength of spirit!  And the unmatched determination for  these children and adults to live a life where the possibilities are endless.   I see a community that wants nothing more than all people to know this about them and their child.  Isn’t that what any parent wants for their child?  I did…I still do.

March 21 is National  Down Syndrome Day.  3-21.  I love it!  I even got the t-shirt.  But this year apparently, they want to spice up the campaign and give it a theme.   Make it “Odd Sock” day or something like that.  I don’t even know the theory behind it.  My beef, why would anyone (especially, working on behalf of Down Syndrome) use the word “Odd” in its campaign?  Instead of helping others to move forward in any archaic beliefs they have about Down Syndrome, doesn’t this take us back to the world where the children were called Mongoloid and thought to have very limited capabilities.

Because I have learned first hand,  more people than you think still hold these beliefs.  The belief that these children and adults are somehow a burden on their families.  Sad but true…in any day and age…but now that we supposedly know better.  More than one person had tried to comfort me with Madeline’s death by telling me she would have had so many challenges in life or questioned who would’ve cared for her.

Don’t we all face challenges of some kind?  Aren’t we all a little “Odd”?  I know I am.  Ask my family, at times it makes me challenging to live with.  My boys would be more than happy to agree.  We are all different.  But for many of us we appear, “normal.”  There are no tell-tale signs of what makes us unique.  For the most part this prevents us from dealing with some long-held beliefs that others might see our life as less than in some way.

But for those who have the extra chromosome their path might not always be as smooth.  They will more than likely confront a road block or two.  Although much progress has been made, we are still in a time when as little as three years ago, when I first learned Madeline had Down Syndrome, I was then offered an appointment to terminate my pregnancy.

In order to challenge and change the belief that life with an extra chromosome is somehow of lesser value or even a “burden” I believe an easy step would be to refrain from using the word “ODD” when showing support for a community we love and care for.   Odd usually has a not so great connotation, like, “Odd man out”, “Odd-ball”, when something doesn’t seem quite right we say, “well, that’s odd.”  I could go on:  but I won’t.

Perhaps I do still have a place in the DS community.  Because when I read or hear things that remind me there are still many archaic beliefs about having a child with Down Syndrome it makes me crazy.  I would gladly work for any child to have the life I wanted for Madeline.  A life any parent would want for any child.  I don’t find that “ODD”… do you?

Boy of Fall

I have been on somewhat of a summer hiatus from writing here.  More precisely I am currently in a perpetual state of analysis paralysis, otherwise known as much to say, much to do, so as all “normal” functioning adults do, I freeze up in all the “thinking” about doing and don’t get to the actual doing.  So I decided to thaw out a little, with the help of a cup of brew, and put some recent observations down.

This seems to be Little Brother Week.  He is a definite work in progress.  An enigma, if you will.  A child that puts his clothes on backwards, can barely tie his shoes, can’t remember where said shoes are, has a school desk that would make the saltiest teacher weep,  and generally is a textbook definition of a “hot mess.”

Remember Napolean?  You know the guy from France who story has it was a small man with a big chip or attitude or arrogance.  I think they call it “The Napolean Complex”.  Yeah, well, possibly we have a classic case right here.  Don’t be mistaken, Dear Reader, he is not arrogant, it is hard to be arrogant when your underwear is on backwards.  Rather,  he is more like a frustrated Little Leprechaun.  Because within this little body that falls around the 7 to 10 % range of size for his age, is a head that is the  95th percentile.  Hand to God, I have the bladder control to prove it.  And within the 95th % head is a brain that thinks and thinks and thinks.  And this brain wants to do and be good at many, many things.  Usually immediately, out of the starting gate, with no previous experience or extra effort required.

Therein lies the rub.  He is a Little Guy that seems to be built for speed and agility.  The rub, his big brain doesn’t seem to be able to get this message to his little body.  The result, Napolean, who is officially 69 pounds at age of 10, could read an entire playbook and school you on what needs to happen on the field.  Rub, he has these tiny hands that seem to deter him from grabbing that ball when thrown his way.  I would like to say this only makes him stronger and he says, “throw it again, Coach, I want to try again” but in reality, it goes more like this…Little Brother running away in tears or trying to find a way to make himself disappear in plane sight.  Either way, for a kid with a big brain, he has yet to learn that this coping skill fails him every time.

But because we seem to be a family of non-quitters, or just plain foolish, the obvious is now happening…LITTLE BROTHER IS PLAYING TACKLE FOOTBALL…his idea.  This is the first week.  I can’t watch.  I mean it, I can’t.  The Captain took him the first two nights but as luck would have it, The Captain played the National Security card and I had to go last night.

The first night of practice, apparently,  there were many tears of frustration.  Lots of running and drills that he was having trouble signaling his body to do.  The Captain, turned him around and sent him back to the field until practice was over.  But in true Little Brother fashion he walked off the field that night telling Captain Daddy he wants to be a linebacker.  So we returned on Tuesday, cause possibly linebackers are supposed to cry a lot, I mean, I never did understand football.  Tuesday there were fewer tears and the Coach asked the eternal question, “How come you can do the complicated footwork drill but not the easy one.”  Good question, Coach, when you get the answer, you just might have cracked the code.

Wednesday’s practice was the big guns…full gear…helmet, shoulder pads, mouth guard, practice pants with pads…and Mommy on duty.  It was with great trepidation that I set out on this adventure.  On the quick ride over he explained to me the probability of “upchucking” during practice, “cause you gotta admit Mom, my stomach isn’t protected and if someone grabs me by the waist and pushes up before they throw me down, and there is any food in there, it is only going to come up.”  See what I’m dealing with here, Dear Reader.  My response, “that’s nice, now get out there and remember, “it might feel weird, cause you have never worn a helmet before.”  And then being a good mom, I looked the other way and deferred all pep talks, lets check that helmet to “The Husband”.  “The Husband” is the spouse of “The Friend”, also known as “The Teacher” of the Little Brother for two years.  He proved highly qualified,  so I hired him.

Mommy always knows best and yes the helmet did squeeze his ears and the weight of it made him look like a human bobble head out there.  But the distraction of the helmet proved to keep the tears in and smother the frustration a little because we had what I call success…caught every ball and performed all drills to perfection???…NO!  But, NO TEARS, not a one, and that, my friend, was success enough for me.

Getting in the car to go home, he was all smiles when he realized how dirty and gritty and “real football player like” he looked.  So, I jumped on the band wagon and attempted a couple of football type questions.  His response…”Hey Mom, you know what question is even harder to answer than the meaning of life?  What is the exact time that the earth turns on its axis?  I  mean, you gotta admit, that might be harder to answer.”

Finally, the talk went to football practice…”Hey Mom (he starts every sentence this way), I think I know why my helmet is so tight.  It’s cause my head is big from my brains.  Must be cause I read a lot.  Right, Mom, right? …”Hey Mom, why are you laughing?…”

No reason…I was still thinking about your earlier revelation that “Medieval Architecture reigns supreme” and that “knowledge is tricky cause you always know what you can’t do but you don’t always know what you can do.”  And then I was thinking…what a wise Little Leprechaun you are and it is exhausting keeping up with your brain and then I wondered…if Kenny Chesney knew about you when he wrote “Boys of Fall.”

 

 

What goes around

I went to a Memorial Service last night.  My dear friend, “Em”,  lost her cheer coach,as the result of a tragic accident.   He was smack-dab in the midst of embracing  life, his time, his talents, his gifts and  sharing them selflessly with all who knew him and even those that did not.  I went to the service to support my friend.  I had met this man once.  I think I cried harder than anyone there.

As we were walking into the church for the service it dawned on me that this would be the first memorial or funeral I had been to since Madeline’s.  The circumstance and my purpose for being there seemed different enough so while at first choked up  I was not worried about pulling myself together.

But then a switch flipped inside my head and a slide show started to play.  You know, like a power point presentation where the slides flip and flash at you.  Like that.

The first slide was of Madeline’s funeral and being hugged by another Mother who had buried her child.  I remember thinking “Wow she never met Madeline, she is really upset.”  Now I know, she wasn’t as much crying for Madeline as she was for my loss, for my pain, and for my future.  My future without my Baby Girl.

The second slide was at home, in my room, a week or so after Madeline’s funeral,  talking to a woman on the phone.  The nursing company who cared for Madeline had connected me with this woman in hopes that it would be of some comfort.  Funny, I cannot recall the woman’s name, as many events from the initial months without Madeline are a blur.  But her words, those I remember, those I will never forget, those words and her voice played as in Dolby sound.   She said in a broken voice, “I want you to know that although I never met your beautiful daughter, I have already cried for her, and for you, and I am so sorry.  I am just so sad for you and I wanted you to know that first thing.”  I said, “thank you.”  I didn’t get it, really.  But now, now I get it.  And the floodgates opened.

Slideshows played of this amazing man showing a face that radiated joy and a spirit and dedication that drew others to him.  It was a life cut too short.  The minister put it in more literal terms.  The Lord had given him just over 10,000 days and he had lived each one “full out.”  He was an amazing coach and mentor to my friend and all those on his teams and I am so sad for those girls.

But he was also someone much more important than a coach.  He was a son.  At 27 he was someone’s baby.  And for this I cried…a lot.  For a mother who buried her child.

His mother got up and spoke.  She was amazingly strong.  This made me cry harder.  She told us he was her “only child and her whole world.”  And he was taken from her in the blink of an eye.

The man with him at the time of his death came up and hugged the Mother.  A slide flashed in my head of “Our Hannah” who shared Madeline’s last minutes.  And I cried some more.  For life and how it can take a cruel turn and someone becomes a new central figure in your life because they were blessed with the last minutes of your child’s life.  And for his Mom,  who now has this bond, I cried some more.

Seeing her incredible strength I thought of the blur she must be in and the raw, numb feeling I remembered.  And I prayed for her.  I pray for her days and years to come and though a woman of strong faith, there will be days when that will not soothe the constant ache in her heart.  I thought of the people in my life, the bond we never wanted to share and the tears they have cried for me and I for them.  And the day will come when this Mother will do the same… cry tears for another Mom… another Mom who will bury her child, because that’s how a Mother’s love goes around.

 

 

 

Not My Brand

It’s that time…time to Warp… Time Warp that is.  My friend, Kathy Benson of Bereaved and Blessed, invites us to visit old posts and reflect on our life when we wrote them and what has happened in our life and journey since.  This months topic is advice.  Getting it, giving it, what do you think of advice and what is your favorite brand.

Advice, unsolicited, is all around.  The one thing in these tough economic times that is free, yet, even with that low, low, low price, it is over valued.  Unsolicited advice, in my humble opinion, is pretty much someone’s opinion being thrown your way, and you know what they say about opinions…well, let’s just leave it at that.

This brand of advice,  you might say I am a snob but this brand, the one labeled unsolicited, well, I don’t like it…at all.  In fact I won’t even buy it with a coupon.  My brand is what I would call, sought after, yes, that’s my brand.  What I prefer about my brand is that you go to a source you know and trust.  It is usually advice of good quality, which is the result of more experience in an area, similar experiences, values, and usually a certain amount of mutual respect.  The other brand I have found is somewhat watered down and seems to leave a bad taste in my mouth and a significant cramp in my stomach.

My brand can be difficult to find, but the other brand, well, that is everywhere.  I know, Dear Readers, this is not so unique.  I just think that I have enough circumstances in my life that make me a target consumer for the unsolicited brand.  I seem to be top of the market for “guidance” in parenting, autism, and grief.  Any advice that starts out, “what you need to do is” or “don’t you think it would be better if”, “I know they say he is autistic but”, or generally any statement about Johnny or Madeline that begins “you need…”  The exception is if I say, “What do you think I need to do”, in which case I reverse my previous statement.

Autism and grief, on their own, carry a huge weight and require a strong back bone.  Put them together and I pray I can  somehow manage to stand upright.  An incompatible pair, autism requires Mom to be on her toes, and never let her guard down; whereas, grief, causes me to have trouble staying on my toes and operating with a certain amount of distracted thoughts for my Baby Girl.

It is rough to stay on my toes with these heavy boots.  I re-visit a post I wrote where I discuss advice about moving on a year after Madeline’s death.  It is in its unedited raw state as I originally wrote this piece, Progress?”.

A year and a half has now passed, and yes, I do still get that “other brand” of advice at times but I try harder to consider the source and their intention. It doesn’t make it easier but I know some well-meaning people just want to make things better, that simply cannot be repaired.  Like I said in my piece “unless you’ve walked in my boots” but be “careful they are pretty heavy.”  Now that, Dear Reader, is some of the best, trusted advice I have received from a very reliable source.

My boots are still heavy, but the weight shifts and some days they are a bit lighter to walk in.  The body begins to adjust to this ever present weight.  The path is still rough terrain but sadly, familiar.

I leave you with this, please remember,  unless you have stood in someone’s boots and are sure you know their weight, think carefully and twice, that’s my advice…for what it’s worth.

 

Perfect Moment – Road Trip

Better late than never.  At least that is what I am hoping.  The last week of the month and Lori at LavenderLuz.com calls us to reflect on a moment, big or small, when all our stars aligned and all was perfect in our corner of the universe.

It has been a busy few weeks in my little piece of the universe.  The Brothers finishing school for the summer and me doing the unspeakable…RETURNING TO SCHOOL!  That’s right, I’m doing it, officially, going back to that one place every sane person swears they will never again darken the doorstep.  No, not Wal-Mart…MIDDLE SCHOOL!!!!!!  Say it isn’t so!  I can hear my Dad laughing from heaven as I type.

Middle School was not a great time for me.  And, I realize, that makes me different from absolutely NO ONE!  It is an awkward time in too many ways to count.  Self-esteem is fragile, teeth are crooked, skin is bad, friends are fickle and no one seems to feel right in their own skin.  So what do I say, SIGN ME UP!

Better yet, let me spend a lot of money to take a class that is  going to make me even MORE popular and desirable than I ever dreamed possible.  Please God, make me a Middle School Teacher!  Yes, you read correctly, teacher.  I am going to teach reading to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.  And it gets better…I AM REALLY EXCITED!  To fuel this momentum I have been taking a class this week in Young Adult Literature.  A little refresher you might say.

It is a scenario close to “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled.”  Sounds more poetic than I think I have lost my mind and there is no turning back now.  Life is funny like that.  I have been on my path for a while.

My full-time job was here at home and I have been very happy that way.  But now, I am a bit restless.  When the Brothers are at school the quiet is too much.  In the silence I can hear the monitors and other durable medical equipment that filled our home.  I can smell the boutique lotion my friend spoiled her with and in that alone time, I am now lonely.  My plan was never to work full-time outside my house but plans have a way of changing and new roads sometimes need to be built.

As I drove to my first day of class yesterday, I thought how this is a new chapter, a new road.  A book I did not want to read and a road I did not want to build but I fell in a pothole along the way while reading the worst horror story ever.  I now find myself starting a new book, a different genre with a new cast of characters.

The past two and a half years have been a time of building and paving this new road.   I have a long way to go but as I drove I thought…what a long way I have traveled.