Saturday, September 28, 2013

Watermelon...a pictorial..

~"For years my wedding ring has done its job. It has led me not into temptation. It has reminded my husband numerous times at parties that it's time to go home. It has been a source of relief to a dinner companion. It has been a status symbol in the maternity ward."`Erma Bombeck   

There is an Algerian saying (that Omar taught me) that goes.."The luck is in the watermelon."  To which I responded..."that's nice" because really-what else can I say to that? I mean...really...what does that mean?!  It's funny..Omar and I are from such very different places-he from Algeria..and I am a N.Y. girl. Yet here we are living together in Maine.  I used to wonder "How the hell did this happen?" and then we had kids.( I do know how that happened.) 

Let me go back to the beginning...It started 23 years ago in N. Y.  I was managing a muffin shop/cafe and Omar having just arrived from England (he planned to see the states by working his way across them) was looking for a job.  In a twisted turn of events-Omar was hired, but the applications got mixed up and the wrong person was called and given the job in his place.  Thankfully-this person did not work out...very thankfully..because the situation was righted..and Omar eventually wound up working there.  For me-meeting Omar was...something at first sight. I certainly wasn't thinking about relationships..or marriage.  I was an INDEPENDENT woman! I made my own way, did my own thing...lived my own life....And yet?  From the moment I first saw him...I knew...something..I wasn't sure what...just that I needed to be with him...somehow.  We started off as friends.  He was dating someone (she had a mustache)...and I had sworn off dating.  (some past relationships led me to believe that I was better off single-WAY better off-so much so that I hadn't dated in 3 years)  We just enjoyed hanging out together. Until December rolled around.  Omar wanted to see the sights (N.Y.C. is wonderful at Christmas) and his girlfriend wasn't interested.  So, I being the kind and caring individual that I am...promptly jumped on the opportunity offered my companionship.  The rest (including the mustachioed girl friend) was history...

Next week is a big week for us.  There is much celebrating to do.  Twenty years ago Wednesday, I married that man that I met in the muffin shop. Twenty years with the most decent man that I have ever known Omar raises me up.  He keeps me steady...he is my anchor and my launch pad...he keeps me steady...and his love-it encompasses me.  Never have I been so accepted and revered even. He holds me up even when I'm down..dances with me whenever the mood hits us..and always..always we laugh. We have tread some dark places..walked through fire together..and shared some of the most exquisite joys. He is my heart...although in Algeria he would be my kibbda (liver)..personally-I prefer heart but there you go. He is not my other half or better half..he is a whole person unto himself.  Together...together we are pretty damn good. Together we made one of the other reasons for celebrating this week. Fifteen years ago-on the very same day, our wonderful Sam pushed his way into this world.  It was not exactly the most romantic of ways to celebrate an anniversary-but it certainly made it memorable!  He's a great kid-our Sam. Watching him grow into himself has been an adventure..where he was..who he is and where he is going.  We could not be prouder. He takes after his Papa.  that should tell you what kind of man he will become.  Some people have said that I am lucky for having Omar. I don't know about that.  I will say though, that I am blessed. Blessed for having a partner like Omar, and the amazing kids that we share.  If luck really is in the watermelon-well then, I have quite the patch...and they are all good. 

There we are in front of my fathers fireplace with best man and justice of the peace
I was (as you can tell by my blotchy skin-and face...TERRIFIED!!!!!
much more relaxed...puffed sleeves! What was I thinking!
Our first dance- to Nina Simone's "My baby don't care"

Happy 5th wedding anniversary AND welcome to the world Sam!

me and Sam today...he's grown a bit!

Me and Omar...twenty years later and still going strong.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Seven words and a bit of a rant...

~"I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man made sound never equaled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig."~
Alfred Hitchcock

It was Tuesday had been a regular kind of day..nothing out of the ordinary..I was sitting outside sipping coffee..waiting for the bus. I love seeing the kids run through the door (and straight by me) at the end of the day.  I get it.  I mean, they have been cooped up for hours-and they are thrilled at  finally being free.  I totally remember the feeling..As a kid,  the end of the day was  my absolute favorite part of school.  So I don't take too much offense at being totally ignored.  And hey-sometimes they even stop and say hi-before asking for various food items and turns on the computer. I have to give them credit for that.  Sometimes they even stop and chat for a moment-granted, it's usually to tell on one of their brothers or sisters for something they did on the bus. But I'll take what I can get!  So, I wasn't too shocked when Lily decided to chat with me on that fateful Tuesday afternoon...
If only I had known..maybe I could have prepared better, girded my loins..stiffened my upper lip..I wasn't prepared..I was caught unaware-a deer in the headlights..when she uttered those seven small words that could and would change the course of our school year...words that could and would make life at home....interesting.. seven words that strike terror into the hearts of many a parent!  She said....
"Mama, I am going to join the school band!"
"wh..wh..what was that honey?" 
"They had an instrument demonstration at school today-and I want to learn one. I think it will be great!"
I was immediately transported back in time-a time when I was innocent and naive..only four short years ago when Sam said those very same words. Sam, who insisted that playing the trombone would be the "BEST THING EVER!" Sam, the boy who when he got his trombone, had to be forced (using dire penalties) to practice...and when he did..lets just say that our dogs will never be the same...I swore "Never again!"...But, I can't let one awful terrible uncomfortable experience sway me. I can't.  I have to let them try new things. A mother should encourage....right?  So, with sweat slowly beading on my upper lip, I said..
"Oh....great!..umm...what instrument are you going to choose?" (please don't let it be trombone...please don't let it be trombone..) 
"Well...I really want to play the conch shell."
"The conch shell?" (already I'm envisioning her standing on the roof at dawn wearing nothing but a loin cloth-blowing her conch shell to greet the day)
"Yeah...but they don't have lessons in it.  They only used it in the I have to pick two choices from the list I got."
"uh huh.....?"
" I picked either DRUMS or TRUMPET!"
"Of course you did! ...of course you did"
"Are you SURE you want to do this?"
"Well...yeah...why not?"
"I'm just saying that it takes commitment...and time and lots and lots of practice...even when you don't feel like means doing your homework and then practicing before you do ANYTHING ELSE..once you sign up-you HAVE to do it for the year.  I'm not kidding-I have to pay to rent this instrument..and If I pay-YOU ARE GOING TO PLAY...."
"Oh....well...I'm not sure I really want to...let me think about it..."  
 Sometimes, I feel like a bad parent. I do.  I WANT my kids to try explore the world..take risks even! Yet here I am...*sigh* doing my best to talk her out of doing just that..The thing is-I know my girl.  I KNOW that as soon as the novelty wears off (about 5 minutes after she gets the instrument) I will be finding drums shoved under her bed..or a trumpet with Littlest Pet Shop toys stuffed in it. She won't want to practice-she will fight me every step of the way-till we are both exhausted and I finally give in and tell her "Fine! Don't practice if you don't want to!" But it won't stop there-oh no..Because then I will start getting notes sent home..telling me about my child's obvious lack of practice-AND-it won't just be a regular note-of course will be a condescending note!
 "Dear Kathleen, you know if you REALLY want them to be able to play, you are just going to have to encourage them to practice a bit more.."
As if I am the one at fault for this! As if I hadn't spent hours asking...demanding...BEGGING them to practice!  And if by some miracle I do get them to practice?...I ask you this.  Have you ever heard a child play a trombone with resentment?  It's not pretty!  I'm damned if I do-damned if I don't!  So, I am going to forgive myself for taking the easier of two evils. I think that in the long run, we will all be happier for it.
  I have three years until I am faced with this dilemma again.  Zoe will either choose not to join band (like Oscar) OR she will follow in Sam and Lily's footsteps and decide she wants to play the tuba.I will deal with that when the time comes.. In the meantime, I believe that I will start petitioning the music dept. to offer more options on their list of available instruments. I do believe that the "dog whistle" and "air guitar" would make lovely additions...


Saturday, September 14, 2013

.Reduced to "Ish"

~"I never saw a man who looked with such a wistful eye upon that little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky"~ Oscar Wilde

So the school year started-as they always do. On the first day back...At the sound of the alarm, I sprang joyfully out of my bed..delightfully skipped down the stairs-not even pausing to scream out profanities when my feet found the scattered Littlest Pet Shop abominat toys.(.I swear those big headed things move of their own evil volition.)  Nothing was going to get in the way of my springing and skipping. NOTHING.

  The first day of school is pretty easy for my herd.  The girls are excited to wear their new dresses..Lily wants to see her friends..and Zoe? Zoe just wants to wear her new clothes. The excitement peters out pretty quickly for her-once she has worn all of her new things. (we are in the third week now-and she has already had one personal day) My boys were a different story. Well actually-Oscar got up and ready like he always does (he will get his own school post soon) But Sam? *sigh*  Sam started high school this year..and, like a true almost fifteen year old.. he refused to share my excitement. "Hey! Hey! Hey  Sam!  today's the first day of high school buddy!"    "uh-huh."   "I can not believe I have a kid in high school!"  "yup."  "Are you excited!?"  "Not really." "But Sam? ( I'm dancing all around him like a frantic puppy)  It's HIGH SCHOOL!  You are one of the older kids now!  you get to take some courses you're interested in! You're taking  a real art class!!..He's just looking at me. I mean, I'm hopping and skipping...and he has absolutely no reaction...he's not even giving me his standard slightly bemused "she's one hop away from senior living" look.  So, I threw down the gauntlet... brought out the big guns. He was going to be excited about high school-whether he liked it or not!    "Maybe this year.... you can learn  (gulp) how to drive !" (I don't want to think about it)  Did his eyes just light up? (I got him!)  "I want to drive!...I know exactly the car I am going to get too.!!" (he names some zillion dollar  car)  "Ummm Sam?  You do know that those cars cost money-right?..A lot of money."  "Of course I do. But once I sell my story and comic ideas I will be able to afford it." "Yeahhhh...but until might want to think about driving something different...I mean you are going to have to take driving lessons(from someone who isn't me) and you are going to want to practice (again, with someone who is not me)..and believe me-once you learn-you are going to WANT to drive."  "You have a point."  "You'll probably be asking me to use my car."  ", I won't."  "What?..You'll want to drive but you won't borrow my car?"   "No thank you."   "What do you mean?"   "No offense mama..but you drive a mini-van." *sputter* "Whats wrong with my mini van?"   "Nothing."  " My mini van is cool!  It has a c.d. player-and room for six!..not to mention matching floor mats!!!"  I was indignant!  Indignant over the mini-van that I......secretly imagine is a 65 1/2 Mustang convertible (black with white leather interior).  "Look-It's a "mom-ish kind of car."  *gulp*..."Mom-ish?"  "Yes...but that's o.k. because you're a mom-it suits you." "SUITS ME?!! (no!) I bet you anything that  there will be a day when you long for spacious leg and head room , four door accessibility and maximum cargo space! humph." "Mama?  why is your face all red?"  "Sam,  I'm going to give you some aren't going to understand it now..but it may save you know how I tell you words that you should never use to describe a person?.."You mean like fat?" "Yes-just like that.  "O.k."  "Never call a woman "Mom-ish"...I mean I love being your mother-I adore it-I adore all of you!..But some words?  They just don't sound as nice as they mean...can you understand that?"  "Of course I can.  I'm in high school now. " "well..if you don't start getting ready for it-you'll miss the bus...and I would have to drive you! mwhahahahahaha!"

I think it is going to be an interesting year.

Friday, September 6, 2013

.More than enough...

~"But when I reach the place I'm goin'
  I will surely know my way.."~Wynonna Judd

   So, it has happened again.  The unthinkable.  A mother attempted to murder her daughter and then take her own life.  I chose those words carefully-because there is no way to sugar coat it -nor should there be.  It was attempted murder. It was attempted suicide.  It was the ultimate act of aggression.  The why's the how's and what ifs..are all speculation right now.  I know that I can't wrap my head around it. Maybe it is because I had written (with Kim) about this family...gotten to know them, looked at their pictures, watched their journey, shared their story..Maybe it is because I'm a mother..I just don't know.  

 What I do know is that there is a young girl-Issy, fighting for her life right now. A young girl who overnight has become the focus of news reports, blog posts and articles.  Sadly-for mostly the wrong reasons.  I see it already-From the "My wife's cousins best friends sister has a son with autism and her life is awful!"  and "See what vaccines do?" "The mother is evil!" "The mother is a martyr!" "Exonerate!" "Condemn!" "How dare you!" "How dare they!" .."And on and on it goes..and in the background behind all the noise

 Issy fights for her life.

    What I worry about-is what is going to happen a week, a month, or a year from now. Will Issy be forgotten? Her story no longer relevant?  Swept aside by the next big controversy? Only to be remembered as an afterthought, a citation, or a strong warning?  Is this human being, this young girls life only worth the platform on which people stand on? My core shreds at the thought of it.  

  My heart goes out to this family.  Yes-all of them.  As a parent, I can not imagine the depth of darkness this mother must have fallen into in order to commit such a horrible crime. I feel the immeasurable love that I have for my children and have to rationalize it this way. Have to. She had to have been in a very bad place in order to do the unspeakable.  I am incapable of looking at it any other way.  My compassion however does not make her unaccountable.  I can feel for this mother, but there is nothing in this world that justifies taking the life of your child. Nothing. I don't care if they are neuro typical, autistic or have three heads. You do not get to do that. I don't care if they are easy going, physically challenged or violently aggressive.  You don't get to do that.  

Everyone needs to remember Issy is the victim-not her mother.

 I get that when something so horrific like this happens-it is human nature to try and figure out the cause, find something to blame-to try and make sense out of the senseless.  Especially when the crime is so horrendous. BUT!  No matter how awful the crime-it is an even worse offense to blame the victim and/or the victims disability for it. Issy is fighting for her life.  That is enough for one girl to handle. More than enough. 

 My thoughts are with this family.  I hope that one day all of them may find peace.

“You were born a child of light’s wonderful secret— you return to the beauty you have always been.” ~Aberjhani