Last night my Soul Sister, Dee, was bereft. It seems that all of her friends were invited to a holiday party except for her and her roommate. Now, when I say all, I mean ALL of their friends from their area whom they’ve known for years. And those friends were going folks, because when they started asking Dee if she was going, well, that’s how she found out about the party to which she had not been invited. And she was crushed. Some of you are wondering if Dee is in middle school. I know. But nope. Dee is a grown up woman in her middle age. She’s a full on ADULT with ADULT kids. And this crap is still going on. Our sister is beautiful, inside and out, kind to the point of doing without herself to give to others, and has a soul that shines like a beacon of warmth and acceptance to others. She plans ways to be kind to others. But one lowlife jerk guy decided to throw a party and be petty and let hate win (again) and deliberately exclude her. None of her actual friends bothered to look at the list of people who were invited that was published on Facebook for God’s ever-loving and ever-forgiving sake (because that divine SHE has SO much more infinite patience for human pettiness and self-absorption than I do) and no one noticed that she and her roomie were missing, and no one did a thing if it was noticed. They just got themselves all festive and went on to the free booze-a-thon without a care in the world for another human being. And so her heart was broken, and she was at home sobbing, and a few of her friends and I held her in the light last night, and messaged with her and made sure that she felt loved and worthy because she so much is, and not just because she is my soul sister but because she is a decent human and a good person and totally worthy of all things that are good in this world. But we all know the damage was done when the first friend asked her what she was wearing, and she realized that she was not invited when everyone else in her group of friends was going. And we all know that kind of damage is hard to repair despite what the rest of us do and say. Because it hits us in our hearts and souls. Humans crave connections, and inclusion, and the feeling that we are not alone. Exclusion, rejection, forced aloneness, solitary confinement…they’re among the worst forms of torture. So, can we talk about bullying for a moment? Because I know it seems like it’s all good and probably over after high school, if not not sooner, so why do we, as adults have to worry about it? It’s not bullying if it’s the PTO mom not allowing that mom who looks haggard to come to her wine and cheese event planning
You guys! The mail just came, and someone amazing sent me a Guzzle Buddy, and OMG, it’s the best! It even comes with instructions, and if you can’t figure it out, there’s a video to show you how to stick the rubber end into the wine bottle. Plus, there’s a warning about how it’s actually glass and will break if you tip your bottle over and being a responsible drinker. It’s like my Christmas wish came early. I have no idea who sent it (let me know so I can at least toast you), but if someone else could drop off some wine, that’d be great.
Yesterday was one of those days. I knew it would be going into it. But guys, it was even more of a slog than I thought it would be. And praise be all that’s good in the world, I did not turn into the Kraken in front of the kiddo’s counselor and send the offender into the abyss. How is it that #tesd can turn a pony-tail sporting, holiday-sweater wearing, chipper and ready for any turn of events mom into a steaming, salivating sea-monster? Oh, they make it easy. This time, it was the district social worker who came close to meeting the beast at the discharge meeting for the munchkin, who will be back in school at the end of this week. It was supposed to be a relatively innocuous call to set in place his return to school about which I am anticipating no problems at all. Things were looking good, for a change, and I was feeling relieved. And then there was the fingernails-on-a-chalkboard voice on the other end of the phone. “Well, I think we need to be looking at an Intensive Outpatient Program for him, for two or three hours a day three or four days a week after school, and a mobile therapist to come to the house at least once a week, and his neuropsychologist needs to be changed, because well, he’s already missed 30 days of school this year. I know he’s got some medical things going on, but seriously? There are going to be repercussions for that. And Mom is hesitating about letting us evaluate him…” She went on with other crap, but somewhere about there, I stopped hearing her voice because the cacophony of sounds exploding in my head and the fireworks going off in front of my eyes distracted me. I’ve been doing this single mom thing for a decade now, and I almost never think of me first, and if any part of me thought that this kind of intervention was necessary, I’d have been figuring out how to make it work. I’ve done things just as hard when it was required. But this epic know-it-all bitch has never even met my son. She’d never talked to the counselor about him before that moment. She’s never talked to his neurologist or neuropsychologist at CHOP. She referred to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome as “oh, that joint thing,” in what anyone dealing with it would recognize as the ultimate insensitive brush-off of a complex, systemic set of issues that regularly changes and morphs and complicates. I could feel the tentacles unfolding. Oh, the things that I wanted to say beyond the obvious, “Are you fucking kidding?” and “Shut the fuck up!” and “I am so ready to sue you to send him to a private school just so I don’t have to listen to this epic bullshit from people like you anymore.” So many things… ”Is this IOP going to happen after he goes to school for a full day? And is
This, literally, made my day. I went to Costco to do something nice for my mother for her birthday/Christmas. I don’t know why, okay? No, I still can’t walk between the fractured heel spur and the crazy sprained knee. And yeah, it’s a huge warehouse of a place. It’s been a bad week. I’m a little adrift. Obviously making weird choices. But I found THIS. This is the most amazing fruitcake in the world. And I’ve tried a lot. I actually like fruitcake. I’m a freaking fruitcake connoisseur. Last year, they were sold out right after Thanksgiving, so I had none. That was very sad. And even though my child seems to be intent upon competing for the dubious title of “Best Fruitcake Ever” these days, the bar just moved a little higher for him. He’ll have to work harder, act wilder and speaketh in more tongues if he wants drive me to eat the whole thing in one sitting, with a bottle of bourbon, while watching Love Actually (in bed) and declare him the 2016 Fruitcake of the Year. I’m sure he’ll try. He’s kind of competitive sometimes. It’s going to be close, guys. Let’s root for Costco to win.
I love those first few drowsy minutes when you wake up. You know, before you think real thoughts and can just be happy to see daylight and feel warmth. Then reality sets in slowly, while all the pieces come into abstract, scary focus, and, like I have, with more intense feelings of dread every day, for the past two weeks, I think, “I cannot do one more day of this. I cannot face not being able to keep this from getting worse one more time. I cannot face whatever this worse will be. I can’t even manage to to keep the status quo. I can’t do this alone anymore. I need a village.” I send out the same silent, desperate plea for help, for the clarity, understanding, wisdom and compassion I need to make these impossible decisions, for the patience that’s been gone for what seems like forever to be renewed, for even a little bit of the energy that’s been sapped to be replenished, for strength for me and for the kiddo, for the healing for which we’re so in need, for some relief of some kind for him and for me and for Prince Charming to show up in a white Lexus with a shoe that fits and a promise of happily ever after (or, you know, a decent guy with a good job and his own teeth and hair, or a nanny, or a Powerball win or a miraculous cure or some other straight-up Dickensian twist to this tale). And then I find my smile, however real it isn’t, and wake my child and stare today’s reality in the face and hope that whatever it brings it won’t break me. I channel my inner Wonder Woman, and I get out of bed.
Mother to me, sister and brother (after I canceled Thanksgiving late last night because I just can’t even this week with the kiddo, the job, the pain in my leg and other assorted whineries): It’s too late for me to defrost a turkey, so I got asparagus, butternut squash, salad and chicken piccata from Costco. I’m expecting you and Daniel. Me (18 hours later, texting a friend in protest): Doesn’t Costco sell unfrozen turkeys? We don’t like Chechen placentas. Thanks, autocorrect, for keeping things festive…
It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Lots of stress and angst and anger. Lots of looking for ways to help and be of service. I know some of you are planning to take your kids and volunteer to serve food at shelters and other places for Thanksgiving, especially this year, of all the years, when we need to feel connected and like we are doing something, anything to make the world better. Don’t. Just freaking DON’T. DO NOT go to a shelter to serve dinner. And listen to me when I tell you why it’s a lousy, selfish thing to do. I’ve told people this privately before and stunned them into shock. Maybe it’s time I do that for more people. I know that you are well-intentioned, kind-hearted and giving. And everyone thinks that this is wonderful, right? Take your kids and teach them to be grateful and to help others and show them that they are lucky and help them not be entitled, spoiled brats. I get it. I totally do. And you totally don’t if this is your holiday plan. When you take your kids to volunteer to serve meals at homeless shelters on holidays, it’s the equivalent of taking them to the zoo to visit other humans who are not like them and to see them as different and feed them and observe them and learn lessons from their plight. No matter what you tell them. No matter how you explain it. No matter what context you try to give it. It’s visiting humans who are different from you in their environment. And it totally sucks. I know that deep in your hearts, you are trying to do the right thing. You want to teach your kids to be kind and good and charitable. You want them to realize that “there but for the grace of God go I” and that what they have shouldn’t be taken for granted. You want to ingrain the idea of service in them. You want them to be decent humans. Kudos. You get it. We need decent humans, now more than ever, I think. Serving food at shelters on holidays is NOT the way to do that. I’ve been on the side of giving and receiving. I’m actually grateful for both experiences, though the receiving is certainly humbling. And let me tell you that the people who staff shelters and food pantries and other places like them – both volunteers and the paid staff – are truly special humans. The people they serve and help get to know them and relationships develop. They treat the people in need with respect and dignity and humor and compassion, and that develops over time. They know what they are doing (for the most part, but for a few, and the story of utter selfishness that is the woman at one church who closed her food program this week because she didn’t feel like doing it is
So, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are food bank days here, and I went and picked up our stuff at the church as usual. Because we are dead broke, but if you’re going to be broke, you should totally do it in my zip code because we are truly lucky and always have nutritious and fresh foods. Typically, I give the stuff we don’t want to our neighbor who tends to drink too much and whose family doesn’t bother with him. But today, I had to get to the post office, so I cut through a big shopping center on the way home. And there was a family there, mom (a Muslim), dad and a small baby. With a sign that read “help please anything”. Now we don’t see these things often in this area. And begging in that parking lot is not a wise choice cause some of them size 0 Lululemon wearin’ yoga moms can barely see over the dashboards of their Land Rovers and wouldn’t notice if they’d hit someone because they’re busy texting about which kid achieved what and otherwise basking in their own awesomesauce. But there they were, this little family with a battered stroller, and I had a trunk FULL of food bank food. And there were some middle school brats across the lot yelling at them to “go back where you came from!” OH NO. NOT TODAY, my little boys. NOT TODAY. I stopped that car, and I got out, and I snapped photos of those boys so they could see me doing it and I yelled “This will be on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook before you get home!” and they ran because I am the Kraken, and I can put the fear of the Lord into some children. And then I gave the family all the food that I had in my trunk, and a sweater I was taking to the dry cleaner and the wipes I keep on hand in the car, and my emergency first aid kit. And the man couldn’t speak English very well, but he kept thanking me and wishing blessings upon my family. And I said, “NO. Thank you for letting me help you. Thank you, because today utterly sucks for me, and this week utterly sucks, and my life mostly sucks, but being able to help your family may be the only bright spot in it. So thank you for letting me help you and do these small things for you.” I went to the post office, and on my way back, I saw that a couple of cars had stopped, and some guy was literally giving the man the coat off his back. There’s hope, folks. There’s hope.
Totally WON “craft mom” in the final sweep of fourth grade Halloween activities with the Glitter Glue Slime Monsters we made. I’d only been waiting three months for the email that asked if anyone would volunteer to do the classroom crafts. With split-second timing, I snatched the opportunity up, and got to work posting ISO’s on FB for baby food jars, collecting coupons for Michael’s, AC Moore and Hobby Lobby to get glitter glue and searching the Dollar Tree for decorations. But I WON, guys. I totally WON. Victory somewhat tempered by fact none of the other parents seemed to know we were competing and all were relieved that someone else did it. And I’m choosing to interpret those sidelongs glances I got as they tried to help out as awestruck envy rather than an assessment of my relative mental health and how much time I have on my hands. Calling it a win and putting “crafter” on LinkedIn as skill.
10, home from school by a scheduling calendar accident and observing my frantic, expletive-filled search for stray paperwork while making himself Cheerios: You are totally losing your shirt, your know? It’s gone. Me, channeling his super-talented neuropsychologist: *explains that my logical brain, my heart and my body put my worry brain on trial and asked it hard questions about what I’m doing today, and when worry brain lost in court, it locked my logical brain, my hopeful, helpful, positive feelings and my ability to keep myself from feeling sick in a small soundproof room deep in my head and that now it’s throwing a HUGE loud party with fear, doom and gloom in the rest of my head and heart because worry brain is a very sore loser and an asshole* 10: So don’t do it. Sometimes worry brain is there to keep you safe. Me: From jumping out of airplanes or playing in traffic or doing drugs, sure. That’s why you put it on trial and challenge it. Those times it’s right and wins. But sometimes it’s wrong and it loses. They hate losing. Especially powerful worry brains like mine and yours. Total jerks. They’ll do anything to not have to sit down and shut up. 10: So how do you stop it? Me: By saying “Fork you, worry brain!” And then deciding to be brave. *we’ve been watching The Good Place* 10: But isn’t brave one of the feelings it locked in the room with logical brain? Me: Nope. BRAVE is always a decision; it’s never a feeling. Nobody ever FEELS brave. Nothing would ever get done if we waited to feel it. You DECIDE to be brave. Sometimes it’s a quick, almost instant decision. Sometimes it takes some time. But BRAVE is always choice. And it is worry brain’s kryptonite. 10: *thinking about this as I find the last of the papers* And so today I’m doing something that’s been over a decade in play. I’m taking a shot at my Goliath. Denae and Martha will totally get it. Deanna, Nichole, Michelene, Mari, Jeffrey and everyone else I’ve whispered about it to will be there with me in spirit. It could be a one and done simple thing (let’s hope). It could be opening salvo to the start of a war. Whatever it is, I’ve decided to be brave. And to keep praying for a tragic farm accident in RI, involving a quick, painless death. In the meantime, we’ll be in Chester.